Monday, 14 October 2013

Scraping for Criticism

How's this for a seating arrangement for two leaders on the sidelines of APEC?
Henry Tang Ying-yen continues to try to hog the limelight wherever possible to prove he could have been the better man for the Chief Executive job.

On October 7 Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying attended the APEC summit in Bali and on the sidelines had a meeting with Philippine President Benigno Aquino.

It was obvious Leung was pressing for an apology three years after eight Hong Kongers were killed and seven injured in a horrific hostage-taking tragedy in Manilla.

However, Aquino refused to do so, saying a lone gunman, former policeman Rolando Mendoza was to blame.

"We're taking a small step in the right direction, [but] I don't think anyone should overpromise the results of further dialogue between Hong Kong and the Philippines," Leung said.

Almost a week later Tang criticizes his foe in his lack of experience in diplomacy matters.

"I think Leung is a smart person. He will learn a lesson from it and become smarter in future," the former chief secretary said.

Tang is pointing out that during the meeting, Aquino sat on his own, while to his right, Leung and two of his aides sat on a couch.

Academics point out this seating arrangement contradicted diplomatic norms, where leaders sit side by side even when both are not state leaders.

"Hong Kong and the Philippines are both members of APEC and they have equal status," Tang said. "The government should have been able to avoid this embarrassment."

However, none of us were in the room at the time, and there is also the possibility the Balinese hosts did not give them a proper room to have formal discussions.

Nevertheless, days after the botched meeting, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang put pressure on Aquino to resolve the row over the hostage tragedy, taking the discussions to a higher level and led to some kind of breakthrough.

Li said the incident had "dragged on for long" enough and had "affected the feelings of the people of China, especially the compatriots in Hong Kong". He added he hoped the Philippine government would resolve the incident reasonably and fairly.

Aquino agreed ministerial meetings should take place soon, but again refused to apologize.

While we are hopeful the victims and survivors of the incident will finally bring some kind of closure, it is annoying to see Tang trying to prove he could have done a better job in resolving the crisis.

Why is he saying Leung isn't doing a good job when Tang himself was in government at the time... as chief secretary, what did he do to demand an end to the incident?


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