Sunday, 16 October 2011

Shame on Us

Once again, Sir Donald Tsang's presence at the Legislative Council question and answer session for his last policy address on Thursday ended up as a farce.

Legislator Raymond Wong Yuk-man's assault was by all means predictable and quite expected. Yet Sir Donald's response was regrettably clumsy and stupid.

Those who understand Cantonese or Chinese (refer to the subtitles), please check it out yourself on Youtube here:

Over all these years since Sir Donald took office as chief executive of Hong Kong, he never really seems to be able to maintain his composure, if any awareness or serious attempt to do so.

As a result, he fell prey again and again to those legislators who took advantage of clangers and misbehaviour of senior officials. Understandably, one can hardly resist the temptation to defend and rebuke. But this is exactly where the trick of the vicious cycle sets in: The more you blame your rivals without reflecting on your own attitude and thus crafting your response, the harder they attack on you and the more you hate them. This is exactly what happens in Sir Donald's case.

And Legislative Council chairman Jasper Tsang's overreaction to dismiss Mr Wong and his colleague Leung Kwok-hung only made things worse. As we can see from the video, despite their provocative attitude and disruptive actions, they did not utter a word of improper language or use any form of violence. The dismissal is thus controversial and seems unfounded on evidence. This yet provided the pro-democrats another great opportunity to showcase their "integrity" and "dedication" for "justice".

But I'm not saying that Mr Wong and Mr Leung and their colleagues can come clean. It is no secret that their performance as legislators has been far from satisfactory, let alone any closer to good. For example, Mr Wong's questions raised at the general assemblies of the Legislative Council are surprisingly irrelevant and ridiculous, even though he is a seasoned journalist and professor himself. His questions are often meant to embarrass anyone in the government who is responsible for preparing the answer. The real target of the issues are often missed, if deliberately.

Let's re-consider the recent example on Wednesday. When the session was supposed to focus on the policy address, what is the point of bringing up Stephen Lam's appointment of Chief Secretary for Administration? Can't we just stick to the agenda, undoubtedly an important one, and put first things first?

Equally disappointing is the media and public reaction. Why so many of us are so obsessed with the moral judgment of telling who is right and wrong and taking sides? What does it mean if you choose to support Sir Donald or Mr Wong in this case? Nothing! And so many people don't even bother to think carefully whether Mr Wong's yelling could be regarded as some sort of violence!

Over the past 14 years since the handover I have already seen too much of this kind of ridiculous episodes dominating the air time and press coverage. This is why I am unbearably weary of news these days. Too many of us seem to have lost our brain to think logically and properly. No serious attention has been given to the grounds and implications of policies and measures in question. Due to the limited space and air time, media reports have been filled with pointless rhetoric and meaningless debates like this one rather than well-thought arguments supported by reason and evidence. Criticisms, be they relevant or not, are all over the place, but prescriptions or counter-proposals are rare, if any.

I just can't help but asking why. If we take so much pride in our smart brains that have made Hong Kong what it is today, why do we have such mediocrity at the helm of the city? Many would blame the absence of democracy in Hong Kong, but how about the legislature? There are still plenty of directly elected seats to make some difference. Why do we have so many folks who don't seem to know what they are supposed to do in their current places? Why can't we exercise our power, albeit limited, to kick them out and source for someone better? Imagine if we were going to select the next chief executive by universal suffrage, is there any better alternative to the existing candidates? Will the top talents of the city dip their toes into the dirty waters of politics?

So stop blaming and start thinking if we really want to make a case to Beijing that we deserve something much better. Stun them with good governance, justice and reason. Show them that we can manage our business well. The repeated blunders and farces of our local politics would only reinforce their prejudice that we are brainless economic animals who know nothing but to fill our stomachs full.

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