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To MsExPat: The LSD is dead. Long Live the People's Force.

Dan the Man's picture

To MsExPat: What are your thoughts on the split up of the LSD (League of Social Democrats) in Hong Kong?

My thoughts: In Hong Kong, Raymond Wong and Albert Chan have left the LSD due to differences with Andrew To (the head of LSD). In my opinion, this basically means the LSD is dead as a political force in Hong Kong. In the Hong Kong legislature, only 3 of the members belong to LSD. With Wong and Chan leaving, this means only 1 member, Long Hair, still belongs to LSD, and Long Hair still considers himself a political ally of Wong.

Even if Long Hair stays with LSD, he doesn't appear to have much direct influence with To who will do whatever he wants. Similarly, Long Hair is making political decisions on his own without any regard to what To wants to do. If anything, Long Hair is more likely to consult with the Wong and Chan on his political decisions than with To - because all of them are HK legislators.

The only reason why LSD was as important as it was in HK politics was because it had 3 members in the HK legislature. But with Wong and Chan leaving the party and with Long Hair not coordinating with the LSD on his political actions, the LSD (or more accurately, the LSD leadership) will be irrelevent.

In the 2008 election, Andrew To couldn't win a seat in the HK legislature. Looking back, this is a significant event because it means he doesn't have a prominent post in which to push his politics. With Wong and Chan leaving LSD, the HK newspapers and magazines aren't going to interview To nearly as much (they'll go to Wong or Chan or Long Hair directly) which means his political prominence will drastically fall. But also, I think it's questionable whether or not Andrew To has enough political support on his own to ever win a seat in the HK legislature. Certainly, many people in the past supported him because he was on the same side as Wong and Long Hair. But with Wong and Chan splitting with him and his party, it's not clear he has enough votes on his own to win a seat in the HK Legislature. To the contrary, both Wong and Long Hair both have independent supporters who support them and not the party, and they've won elections because of those supporters. I don't think To has that kind of support.

As for his ability to take control of LSD, one has to give credit to To for his political manipulations to gain control. First he won the trust of Raymond Wong. Next he got his supporters to take over LSD. Then he created some new corporations also called LSD which is controlled by his operatives in case he ever loses power in the original LSD. All this is very clever and smacks of Chicago politics. But ultimately with all 3 lsd or ex-lsd hk legislatures ignoring To, To will be inconsequential in HK politics if he doesn't have enough support on his own to win a seat in the HK legislature - and I don't think he will.

As for To's politics, it appears to he's an Obama-admiring Post Partisan Unity Pony. His schtick is to say he disagrees with the other pan-democrats while constantly saying he has to work with them. It's pretty clear he's more interested in destroying Albert Chan and Raymond Wong than in opposing the Chinese Communist party.

One final question: will Raymond Wong run for re-election in 2012? I seem to remember him saying that he wouldn't, but with this decision I suspect he will.

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MsExPat's picture
Submitted by MsExPat on

Not your fault! With only the English language news media to go on, I suppose that's how it could appear, looking from the outside.

I have the unfair advantage, as well, of being very close friends with at least two of the major players, and so I'm privy to what's been going on behind the scenes, which I can't really discuss here.

In short, no, Andrew To is not an Obama unity pony admirer, no, he's not a mono maniacal Chicago style power-grubber, trying to bring down the "brave" Wong Yuk Man, and no he's not opposing Long Hair. He and Long Hair are close friends. Andrew is the closest thing Long Hair's got to a protege.

Secondly, Wong Yuk man is not anyone's champion or hero. His background's shady, he has family problems that compromise his ability to act independently as a politician. He's got little or no ideology, and he's a control freak. At the end of the day, he'll do what satisfies his ego. I've watched this all play out over the last 2 years.

There are 1,100 members in the LSD. Yesterday Wong Yuk Man walked out with 200 followers. (If you can read Chinese, I recommend today's account of yesterday's meeting in Apple Daily).

Two hundred out of 1,100--that's not exactly a screamingly positive mandate for Wong Yuk Man.

Will the LSD fall apart? Maybe. But not because a majority of its members support Wong Yuk Man. If it falls apart it will be because of lack of leadership. Andrew is intelligent but not a charismatic leader--that's Long Hair's gig. But Long Hair is constitutionally allergic to being the leader of a big organization like a party. That's why he was happy to join forces with Wong Yuk man, despite Yuk-man's weak ideological foundation and loose cannon personality.

What I think will happen is that Yuk Man and Chan will end up splitting, Albert will dive back into his district work, Yuk Man will not run again for the legislature, Long Hair will go back to doing what Long Hair does best, which is be an independent agitator (and legislator), and Andrew will either carry on with LSD or start up something new on his own.

And the pan-Democracy movement will limp onwards, as it always does.

Dan the Man's picture
Submitted by Dan the Man on

In that case, I have certain questions to ask you.

1. It's not like Mingpao or Singtao's coverage is much different than SCMP and the Standard. It's pretty obvious that much of the HK English newspapers/magazines are just translations of the HK Chinese newspapers/magazines. Or sometimes the reverse.

2. Why did Andrew To and the LSD executive committee set up a New LSD Corporation under the control of his allies? Sounds to me that's just a political trick to give himself more control - it's always possible he'll be removed from LSD by the vote of its membership but that can't happen in the New LSD corporation because it's under direct control of his allies.

3. What about the recent LSD executive committee's decision to "apologize" for Albert Chan? Didn't understand why that was done except to pi*s him off. Apologizing for the banana-throwing incidents made more sense to me because that always seemed to me to be juvenile.

4. Since, as you say, Long Hair and To are so close, does that mean Long Hair actually supports working with the Democratic Party despite its attempt to quash the de-facto referendum and its alliance with the CCP in passing the directly-elected functional constituency law? That would be news.

5. Actually, I'm not surprised at all Wong would lose in a vote by its members. For some reason, the LSD is willing to accept just around anyone as a member - especially if they're kids. To is younger than Wong and the LSD youth brigade wants to vote for someone more like themselves (policy probably doesn't matter to the young people as much as older people).

MsExPat's picture
Submitted by MsExPat on

But today's essay in the Standard (English) is, imho, about 100% spot on in terms of analysis and in terms of what I know about reality on the ground.

Your point (1), though, is quite mistaken. As far as the English language papers go, no the SCMP does not just translate what's in the Chinese language papers when it comes to local politics. They provide a very watered-down, un-nuanced summary based on original reporting.

There are 16 or so Chinese language papers, all covering local politics in different styles, and from different niches in the political spectrum. Most Western readers in HK aren't interested in HK politics to that degree of detail.

The Standard is very pro-Chinese, but I cite it here because it is the pro-China papers that have been providing the most detailed--and, ironically, accurate--coverage of what's going on. A friend of mine who works with Long Hair joked with me "I don't need to talk to my colleagues to find out what's going on with the LSD...I just need to open up Wen Wei Po [the Chinese Communist Party organ]."

Finally, you really mis-understand the reason behind the split. It is personal, not ideological. Wong and Chan are a-ideological populist politicians, and that has been the problem with the LSD since its inception.

Please avoid the impulse to cast this situation with an American/US political framework. What's going on in HK has NOTHING to do with Obama politics, compromise, consensus or anything US based. Even the concept of "Political Party" here is very different from what we think of a party.

Dan the Man's picture
Submitted by Dan the Man on

But today's essay in the Standard (English) is, imho, about 100% spot on in terms of analysis and in terms of what I know about reality on the ground.

Hmmm... the Standard appears to be repeating a lot of what I said. Since, as you say, the article is "100% spot on in terms of analysis", I must be pretty spot on too.

Finally, you really mis-understand the reason behind the split. It is personal, not ideological. Wong and Chan are a-ideological populist politicians, and that has been the problem with the LSD since its inception.

That's an interesting point, but in an article in the Standard it said to the contrary:

"The bitter divorce was set off [...] included his dissatisfaction over To's decision not to go after
the Democratic Party in the upcoming district council election, to punish it for supporting the 2012 political reforms."

Ya know, ideological reasons. Maybe you should read that article.

Your point (1), though, is quite mistaken. As far as the English language papers go, no the SCMP does not just translate what's in the Chinese language papers when it comes to local politics. They provide a very watered-down, un-nuanced summary based on original reporting.

Few people are interested in every nuance of politics. So you have a few more quotes from VIP in the Chinese language ones. Do most people care? No.

There are 16 or so Chinese language papers, all covering local politics in different styles, and from different niches in the political spectrum. Most Western readers in HK aren't interested in HK politics to that degree of detail.

True. If one looked at every Chinese language paper, magazine, blog, etc out there in HK, there would be more details in the Chinese language ones.

The Standard is very pro-Chinese, but I cite it here because it is the pro-China papers that have been providing the most detailed--and, ironically, accurate--coverage of what's going on.

Sure. Mary Ma is the mouthpiece of the CCP. Everyone knows that.

Please avoid the impulse to cast this situation with an American/US political framework. What's going on in HK has NOTHING to do with Obama politics, compromise, consensus or anything US based.

That's nice. By the way, on Youtube's hkmyradio, there's a segment with Wong and To talking about over and over again how awesome Obama is. So they -To and Wong- are the ones who talked about Obama first. But no one else can mention that. As they say, the rulez are the rulez.

By the way, how come you didn't answer any of questions? I'll repeat them again.

2. Why did Andrew To and the LSD executive committee set up a New LSD Corporation under the control of his allies? Sounds to me that's just a political trick to give himself more control - it's always possible he'll be removed from LSD by the vote of its membership but that can't happen in the New LSD corporation because it's under direct control of his allies.

3. What about the recent LSD executive committee's decision to "apologize" for Albert Chan? Didn't understand why that was done except to pi*s him off. Apologizing for the banana-throwing incidents made more sense to me because that always seemed to me to be juvenile.

4. Since, as you say, Long Hair and To are so close, does that mean Long Hair actually supports working with the Democratic Party despite its attempt to quash the de-facto referendum and its alliance with the CCP in passing the directly-elected functional constituency law? That would be news.

Does answering those questions violate some kind of confidentiality agreement you have?

Submitted by lambert on

Because Wong and To talk a lot about Obama, the Chinese and Americans have the same understanding of what a political party is? Quite a stretch.

Dan the Man's picture
Submitted by Dan the Man on

Because Wong and To talk a lot about Obama, the Chinese and Americans have the same understanding of what a political party is? Quite a stretch.

I never said that. By the way, MsExPat didn't have a problem with using Obama politics to illustrate what goes on in HK politics when it suits her.

Here on her blog:

I read through the responses--some are in English, but most are in the language I like to call "Internet Chinese", a fusion of traditional characters, spiked with spoken (often profane) Cantonese and English words and letters. 98% aren't comments really, but cheers. Some of them echo Long Hair's "Good Night DAB!" from the video. Others shout, "Go Long Hair!" "Long Hair is the best!" "You're a hero!" Some repeat their cheers 3, or 10, or 50 times. A few flamers materialize, only to be squashed to a pulp by masses of indignant, Long Hair supporting netizens.

This all looked familiar to me. I spent the spring in the U.S. reading similar flame wars on the political blogs during the presidential primaries. The landslide winner of those flame wars was Barack Obama, who leveraged his netizen fanbase into political capital, and won the primary. Obama became the King of the Blogs.

So I'm not allowed to use Obama but MsExPat is? Nice rulez.

Submitted by lambert on

MsExpat wrote:

What's going on in HK has NOTHING to do with Obama politics, compromise, consensus or anything US based. Even the concept of "Political Party" here is very different from what we think of a party.

You wrote:

By the way, on Youtube's hkmyradio, there's a segment with Wong and To talking about over and over again how awesome Obama is. So they -To and Wong- are the ones who talked about Obama first. But no one else can mention that.

I wrote:

Because Wong and To talk a lot about Obama, the Chinese and Americans have the same understanding of what a political party is? Quite a stretch.

You respond:

I never said that.

That's true, I see. Making your original response off point and irrelevant.

Responding to a point that says "HK has NOTHING to do with Obama politics, compromise, consensus or anything US based" by saying they "are the ones who talked about Obama first" and how "awesome" he is confuses Obama the personality with US politics considered systemically.

What in the name of sweet suffering Jeebus does pronouncing the magic word "Obama" first have to do with anything? More focus, please. And where on earth does this talk of "permissions" and "rulez" and "not allowed" come from? This is verging on trollery.

NOTE I'll concede that the Chinese have flame wars, and to that rather small extent there is some similarity between US and Chinese politics.

Submitted by lambert on

Some may not believe this, but the threshold for "de-accessioning" accounts here is actually rather high. See the NOTE on flame wars, for example. What's the answer on that?

Dan the Man's picture
Submitted by Dan the Man on

Making your original response off point and irrelevant.

Fine with me. We're all human and make mistakes, but if you want to, you have my permission to make fun of me as much as you want to about my mistake.

So what about my 2nd response?

Submitted by lambert on

Which "second" response do you mean?

Anyhow, I shot down the obvious one; I can't speak to the detail of Chinese politics. Although I'm with Msexpat that Chinese politics shouldn't be viewed through a US frame -- "Chicago," and so forth. That's problematic even with the Brits -- "Blair == Clinton" or whatever -- and we have a much more shared history and culture and political systems with them than we do with the Chinese.

Since you don't respond on the "permissions" and "rulez" stuff, I assume you're dropping that too. Wise move.

Dan the Man's picture
Submitted by Dan the Man on

I'm with Msexpat that Chinese politics shouldn't be viewed through a US frame

My 2nd reply was the one where Msexpat was viewing Chinese politics through a US frame. I'll repeat it again with some slight changes.

By the way, MsExPat didn't have a problem with viewing Chinese politics though a US frame (i.e. Obama) when it suits her.

Here on her blog:

I read through the responses--some are in English, but most are in the language I like to call "Internet Chinese", a fusion of traditional characters, spiked with spoken (often profane) Cantonese and English words and letters. 98% aren't comments really, but cheers. Some of them echo Long Hair's "Good Night DAB!" from the video. Others shout, "Go Long Hair!" "Long Hair is the best!" "You're a hero!" Some repeat their cheers 3, or 10, or 50 times. A few flamers materialize, only to be squashed to a pulp by masses of indignant, Long Hair supporting netizens.

This all looked familiar to me. I spent the spring in the U.S. reading similar flame wars on the political blogs during the presidential primaries. The landslide winner of those flame wars was Barack Obama, who leveraged his netizen fanbase into political capital, and won the primary. Obama became the King of the Blogs.

So I'm not allowed to use Obama but MsExPat is? Nice rulez.

MsExPat's picture
Submitted by MsExPat on

You deliberately quote me out of context. I was writing about the phenomenon of the Internet as a factor in the last Hong Kong legislative council elections. And the ways in which Hong Kong's online netizen political universe was different than the US blogosphere.

I really don't have the interest in pursuing a discussion with someone who deliberately misrepresents my material. That may not be troll-baiting in the official Corrente rules, but it is in mine.

Submitted by lambert on

"This all looked familiar to me" is the starting point, not the ending point. Eg:

"Unlike Obama, Long Hair didn't plan or strategize his huge popularity in the online world. Like most things Long Hair, it just kind of happened. ...."

"Well, we acquire new languages and skills when we have a strong need for them, and once Long Hair's net geek football comrades showed him that he could find the (illegal) live feeds of European matches on Chinese websites, his tech fluency went exponential. "

"It's an incestuous world, this Hong Kong netizen universe. This is, after all, probably the most connected city in the world. We Hong Kongers are wired up the wazoo, to cellphones, computers, heck, even our television comes through a broadband connection. Internet culture here is more intense, pervasive and powerful than it is in the U.S., where there are so many other media diversions competing for attention, and where you really can, still, escape to places beyond the reach of the Wired World. Here, in small, densely-packed HK, you can't."

And so on.

Dan the Man's picture
Submitted by Dan the Man on

Chinese politics through a US frame.

Here is another quote where Chinese politics is viewed through a US frame:

"The old-school, Hillary Clinton HK democrats wiped the floor with the high-falutin' Obama-types in the Civic Party."

For those who think I'm quoting out of context (and, therefore, it was not viewing Chinese politics through a US frame), please click the link.

Submitted by lambert on

I think the whole article is, again, about differences, and not similarities. I really don't have time to moderate a "gotcha" thread, either. Life is short to spend on material that adds no value.