Sik Wu!

The four winds blow, and the tiles align. With your ducks sitting in such a spectacular row, what do you have to lose? When I read over the weekend that Albert Ho, the head of the Hong Kong Democratic Party, had been huddling tete-a-tete with Anson Chan, I sensed a new breeze stirring. When I heard that Kam Nai-wai, the Democrats’ 冇希望 without-a-prayer candidate, dropped out of the race yesterday, I knew the deal was sealed. Sik wu! Anson Chan will run for Legco in the Hong Kong island district special election.

Like I told you, I’m really bad at mah jong. It’s the beginner’s fatal flaw to get distracted by the alluring surfaces of the play–the beautiful patterns, the satisfying feel of the square cubes as you “wash” them under the palms of your hands. But I should have been paying closer attention to this crucial fact: the most coveted legislative council seat in Hong Kong has a sell-by date of September 2008. Whoever gets elected will just be sitting out the rest of the late Ma Lik’s current term, a total of 9 months (and, effectively, the job ends after only about 6 months of actual Legco sessions). So running for the seat does not involve a commitment to years of public service.  And, especially for the player who lays her tiles down first, there’s not a lot of risk involved, really.

My friend David, who lives on Caine Road and so has a vested interest in this election (it’s his district), has this analysis of Ms. Chan’s strategy: “Anson gets to test the waters and see if she still has popular support. If she gets a lot of votes in the by-election, then she knows she could run again and win in the regular Legco election next year. And if she wins the seat,  she could still make a graceful exit from politics at the end of the Legco term in 2008. All her options are open.”

Really, she’s got a heavenly hand. And so, in this game Anson Chan eats first. But if you are eager to see a December 2 death match of the helmet-haired ones, I wouldn’t count on it. As Hemlock rightly points out, Hong Kong island district is the most pro-Democracy redoubt in the city. Who on Hong Kong island is going to vote for a Beijing-approved candidate besides some Fukienese holdouts in Chai Wan and the odd Chiu Chow businessman in Western District? If Regina Ip sizes up the situation and figures the best she can do is play for a chicken hand, she may well decide to take her tiles home and wait for 2008.

In which case, there will be some different players at the table. (If Long Hair and Wong Yuk-man are as grumpy as I suspect they’ll be about the latest developments, it’s a good bet there will be a third party candidate from the LSD). In the meantime, while I’m packing my bags to return to my home in the district at the center of Hong Kong’s latest political typhoon, I’ll be keeping an eye on the guy I think would best represent the interests of me and my neighbors (as opposed to the best candidate to stir up a temporary media frenzy). That is to say, my favorite doctor.


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