Sunday, August 25, 2019

Voters In Macau, Hong Kong’s Neighbor, Peacefully Elect A New Chief Executive

On August 25, 2019, Macau’s Election Committee, the territory’s 400 official voters, almost unanimously (392 or 98%) elected Ho Iat-seng, former president of Macau’s Legislative Assembly, as Chief Executive.  Ho was the only candidate.

Bizarre? Democracy with Macau Characteristics!

The Macau Special Administrative Region (MSAR) of the People’s Republic of China was a former Portuguese Overseas Territory (first visited by the Portuguese in 1517).  Portugal transferred sovereignty to China on December 20, 1999, about two-and-a-half years after Britain returned Hong Kong to China.

China’s National People’s Congress enacted a Basic Law (mini-constitution) for Macau similar to that of Hong Kong.  It specified the procedure for choosing the Chief Executive, differing from Hong Kong in that residents of Macao were never promised universal suffrage of one man, one vote.

The election process of Chief Executive is as follows.  An Electoral Affairs Commission sends a notice to “legal-person” voters to register their interest in the process (by April 23, 2019, for the 2019 election).  A legal-person voter is a registered association with voting power for the Chief Executive Election Committee.  The representative chosen by each legal-person voter is then authorized to nominate candidates for the 400-member Chief Executive Election Committee.  The Election Committee represents four sectors:  (1) industrial, commercial, and financial; (2) cultural, educational, and professional; (3) sports; and (4) labor, social services, and religion.

There are 5,375 eligible legal person voters.   (Each registered association gets one vote.  I have been unable to find the list of registered associations on the Internet.).  When the polls closed on June 16, 2019, 5,001 legal voters (82.7%) cast their vote for persons to serve on the Election Committee.  Of the 350 candidates nominated by legal voters, 344 were selected:  88 from labor and education, 120 from commerce and finance, 26 from culture, 42 professionals, 17 from sports, and 50 from social services.  Six were rejected.  The remaining 56 (normally 50) were representatives of the National People’s Congress, Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference delegates, and local departments and organizations.  The Basic Law stipulates that a person must obtain at least 66 nominations from the 400-member Committee to be accepted as a candidate for Chief Executive.

As of mid-June 2019, three persons indicated they might run for the job.  In mid-August Ho Iat-seng formally announced that he was a candidate for Chief Executive.  The other two, who previously indicated interest, did not declare their candidacy.  Ho was the sole candidate.

China was pleased with the outcome of this process.  People’s Daily praised the excellence of Macau residents, suggesting that Hong Kong people should learn from Macau.

Ho will be sworn in on December 20, 2019, the twentieth anniversary of Portugal’s transfer of sovereignty of Macau to China.

PS.  Macau does not have an extradition law.  Unlike Carrie Lam in Hong Kong, as of this writing, incoming Macau Chief Executive Ho Iat-seng has not raised the idea of an extradition law.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Want To Halt The Spread Of Socialist Ideas On American Campuses? Send All First-Year Students To Hong Kong For Orientation Week.

Let’s send the Class of 2023 to Hong Kong for Orientation Week instead of the university to which they have been admitted.  Let American students meet with their Hong Kong counterparts to see why Hong Kong youngsters are on the front line risking life and limb for Liberty and standing up against socialist Tyranny in China.

For Hong Kong, Liberty is not an abstract ideal.  It is life itself.  Socialism is not an abstract ideal needing only good men and women to achieve its noble goals. It is Tyranny.

There is no greater struggle going on in the world today between Liberty and Tyranny than in the streets of Hong Kong.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Hong Kong Residents Are Writing Their Chapter In The Annals Of Freedom

Against impossible odds, Hong Kong youngsters and their supporters among the population, are making a remarkable stand for Liberty.  Ten weeks and counting, they are resisting a proposed law permitting extradition of Hong Kong residents to China and demanding  the right to elect their leaders, not having them picked by China.

All four Chief Executives of Hong Kong, ostensibly legitimized through controlled elections, have been dismal failures.  The first, Tung Chee-hwa (1997-2005), resigned during his second term following a futile attempt to impose an anti-subversion law.  Tung now blames America for inciting and supporting the resistance.  The second, Donald Tsang (2005-2012), spent time in jail on corruption charges after finishing up the balance of Tung’s term and completing his five-year term as Chief Executive.  The third, C.Y. Leung (2012-2017), got caught up in the Umbrella Revolution, was tagged with financial hanky-panky, and declined to run for a second term.  Now Carrie Lam, by far the worst, could not leave well enough alone.  She forgot Mao Zedong’s great essay:  A Single Spark Can Start A Prairie Fire.”  She lit the match, poured gasoline on the fire, refuses to withdraw the proposed extradition law, and reiterates she will do a better job of listening to the people of Hong Kong in the future to help restore stability and prosperity. Credibility gap, anyone?  Carrie Lam, her government, the Hong Kong Police, and China have all lost face.  If this all ends badly, as happened in Tiananmen, Lam will go down in history as the woman who destroyed Hong Kong.  Lam should have retired to Britain with her family in 2012 as she then hinted she might.

Hong Kong residents are risking life and limb to maintain their civil liberties (echoing Patrick Henry).  Indeed, were a referendum held with two options, (1) restore British rule or (2) continue as a Special Administrative Region of China, Hong Kong residents would doubtless choose Britain.  Must be a bitter pill for Chinese President Xi Jinping to swallow.  Too bad he didn’t learn from China’s great leader Deng Xiaoping, who invented the “One Country, Two Systems” formula.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Waiting For Godot With American Characteristics For The Modern Era

The Inspector General’s report on the origins of the Russian Collusion story (e.g., the FISA court warrants) was imminent last spring, definitely in June, for sure in July, well past due in August, now unquestionably due in September. Ditto for Attorney General Barr and other Justice Department investigations.  Or maybe not!  Increasingly probably not.  I would not be surprised if AG Barr’s investigations, like former FBI Director James Comey’s description of Hillary’s emails, result in “no reasonable prosecutor would bring a case.”  So, for conservatives or Trump supporters out there, don’t get your hopes up.

Is there a Chinese trade deal anywhere in our future?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  An intensifying trade war with China will likely further depress equities and slow global growth,    An agreement would be good for equities and growth.  But a trade agreement will not change the underlying trends.  China will not honor any promise to stop intellectual property theft or halt cyberattacks against U.S. firms.  The merchandise trade deficit with China will not decline.  Perhaps, deep down, Trump knows this, or maybe his economic advisers have failed to explain the balance of payments to him.  In either case, so long as he stands strong, or appears to stand strong, on supporting manufacturing jobs in swing Midwestern states, he should win reelection.  It worked in 2016.

Will budget deficits decline in our near-term future?  President Trump is delighted with the Defense Department increases and Democrats with social spending increases in the two-year budget agreement.  Trump says there will be plenty of time to make cuts in his second term, except that cuts won’t happen.  There will be more overseas military contingencies that require more defense spending.  In return, Democrats will get dollar-for-dollar increases in social programs.  Budget deficits and public debt, like old man river, will just keep rolling along.  Low interest rates make current debt financing manageable, but wait until the next recession hits.  Two trillion dollar deficits will suddenly appear.  Investors may begin to worry.  Who knows how markets will handle two trillion dollar deficits?

Will conservative ideas make a comeback in our leading citadels of higher learning?  Not for at least another 20-30 years, if then!  As the few remaining conservative elderly White males retire, they will be replaced by younger women and under-represented minorities, who are 10-15 percentage points to the left of the already overwhelmingly left-liberal faculties.  The left keeps marching on, growing stronger by the day.

Lots of other mid-summer musings in my briefcase, but let’s try to enjoy the rest of the summer before the new school year begins and the political silly season intensifies.