26 October 2016
Wang Guangya, director of Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, said his office would seriously and conscientiously carry out changes in response a report released by Central Commission for Discipline Inspection. Photo: HKEJ
Wang Guangya, director of Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, said his office would seriously and conscientiously carry out changes in response a report released by Central Commission for Discipline Inspection. Photo: HKEJ

Party watchdog slams HK and Macau office: What does it mean?

The Communist Party’s anti-corruption watchdog has just released a strongly critical report on the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office (HMAO) – but gives little insight as to whom Beijing favors for the next chief executive or its future policies for the special administrative region.

On its website, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) said it had conducted a two-month inspection of HMAO in July and August.

“The party leadership is not strong or powerful enough, nor is the implementation of relevant policies of the centre strong enough,” the CCDI said.

“Party discipline rules are not taken seriously enough: personnel changes not carried out in a timely way: and promotion of people not done seriously. The [furnishing] standard of the offices of leading cadres has for a long time been above the standard.”

It said that it had reported problems with some officials to their superiors and that these will be handled in an appropriate way.

The report makes bitter reading for its director, Wang Guangya, who said he sincerely accepted the report and that his office would seriously and conscientiously carry out changes.

He and his staff are said to be extremely nervous, fearful for the negative consequences of the report.

The chief of the CCDI team was Ning Yanling, who has conducted more than 10 such investigations in cities and provinces since he took up his present post in July 2015.

Many high-ranking officials have lost their posts as a result of his reports.

Members of the team held one-on-one meetings with members of the HMAO, with the doors locked to maintain secrecy.

For Hong Kong people who want to know whom Beijing will support as the next chief executive and what its future policies in the SAR will be, the report gives few clues.

Jasper Tsang Yok-sing, the recently retired president of the Legislative Council, said the inspection was the normal work of the commission and that its opinions were not out of the ordinary.

It does not mean that the central government will further tighten its control of the SAR, he said.

Over the weekend, the pro-Beijing dailies in Hong Kong did not report the news – a highly unusual move, given the fact that they are supposed to be loyal mouthpieces of the central government.

Beijing is not pleased about many aspects of public life here – the rising interest in independence, demands for universal suffrage, the growing wealth gap, the sharp divisions between supporters and opponents of the central government, and the resentment of many against mainlanders.

Many people in the mainland believe that the situation here is “chaotic” and do not wish to come for that reason.

They also believe that, once they were identified as mainlanders, they would receive abuse and insults, even if they were spending money here.

But it is unclear who Beijing holds responsible for this.

Does it blame HMAO and the Liaison Office for not presenting the policies and views of the central government in a more favorable light so as to win the hearts and minds of Hong Kong people?

Or that these two entities did not introduce more hardline policies to silence critics in Hong Kong?

Does it blame the two for not giving Beijing good advice and not selecting individuals who could better unite society?

The criticism of personnel selection can be read as a criticism of the nominations of Donald Tsang Yam-kuen and Leung Chun-ying.

Beijing is uneasy at the corruption charges that Tsang is facing and Leung’s unpopularity.

A public opinion survey published by the Ming Pao newspaper last week (Oct. 11) found that 62.7 percent opposed Leung having a second term, with only 18 percent in favor.

John Tsang Chun-wah came as the top choice for the next chief executive with 59.9 percent in favor and 15.4 percent against, followed by Jasper Tsang Yok-sing with 43.4 percent in favor and 25.2 percent against and Carrie Lam with 41.9 per cent in favor and 31.8 percent against.

Some analysts read the latest critique as a sideshow in the ongoing power struggle in Beijing for the 19th Party Congress.

The CCDI report is good ammunition for opponents of Zhang Dejiang, who has overall responsibility for Hong Kong and Macau affairs.

He is chairman of the National People’s Congress and ranks third in the standing committee of the ruling Politburo.

Since late August, pro-Beijing newspaper Sing Pao has been waging a ceaseless propaganda war against Zhang.

It reminds the public of a long list of incompetence and corruption cases associated with Zhang when he was party chief of Guangdong.

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Hong Kong-based journalist and author. He had worked as a correspondent for the South China Morning Post in Beijing and Shanghai.

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