You can sense when a top Beijing official is coming to Hong Kong even if you don’t follow the news.
How else would you explain local politicians falling over themselves to make sure everything is ship-shape?
For pro-Beijing legislator Ma Fung-kwok, that means no eating at reporters’ desks in the Legislative Council media room and no smelly food either.
Ma told reporters at a closed-door meeting Tuesday that some of them have turned Legco into a dai pai dong — the quintessential Hong Kong outdoor eatery.
Ironically, Ma represents the cultural and sports sector, so reporters are part of his constituency.
In the same meeting, Wong Ting-kwong complained that reporters often doze off in the conference room, a roundabout way of describing himself sleeping away Legco deliberations, especially speeches by pan-democrats.
(A photo montage of Wong in different stages of slumber was recently shown in court as part of evidence in an assault trial.)
And executive councilor Cheng Yiu-tong lustily praised his boss amid signs he is slipping against an insurgent ABC (Anyone But CY) campaign.
The trigger for these events appears to be a three-day visit by Zhang Dejiang, the top Beijing official responsible for Hong Kong.
Nobody knows if these “preparations” were meant to impress Zhang by putting them in the news or whether they were intended to sweep dirt under the rug.
Ma replied no comment to Apple Daily eight times when asked about his closed-door remarks.
He might have a hard time convincing people with long memories to vote for him in the Legco elections in September.
Still, you would be hard-pressed to top Cheng, a loyal establishment ally who played up Leung’s “soaring” accomplishments and wished pan-democrats gone for good.
“The issue is not replacing Leung but the opposition party,” Cheng said.
“As long as they are here, they will continue to lay blame and play on any chief executive.”
On the flip side, one could say that as long as Leung is here, he will always serve the best interests of… Beijing.
We shall see what Zhang has to say about that.
Expect China’s most powerful lawmaker to get it from both sides.
Pan-democrats have their own plan to keep Leung from another five-year term.
They have it in writing because there are only a few moments Zhang can spare them at a cocktail reception on Wednesday.
The pan-democrats have opted out of the official dinner in his honor.
That’s one less worry for Ma that they might mess up Zhang’s table.
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