Over the past months and weeks the local news agenda has been dominated by publicity campaigns of the two potential candidates running for the next chief executive. Almost every day they attended public or private forums "at the invitation" of various interest and pressure groups, ranging from political parties to the most popular online forum in Hong Kong. But so far no one has ever tabled a full-blown and well-thought platform to bring the public discourse to the next level. Their remarks were reported in soundbites that served as little more than fuel for gossips and parodies.
Even though most of us are not eligible to cast the vote for the next chief executive, does it mean we have nothing better to do than venting our frustrations in the form of sneers, parodies and indifferences? Why can’t we play a more active role in scrutinising the candidates by asking more critical and sensible questions than "what do you think of so-and-so’s comments about you" or "how do you respond to so-and-so’s remarks"? If we really care about the well-being of this ailing city that we call home, we need to tell the candidates as well as all those behind the crappy electoral system that we care, and we are well capable of doing so. Gossips and smears like calling Henry Tang "a pig" or "Dragonball", making fun of his personal attributes or questioning whether C Y Leung was lying when he said his mother had bound feet can achieve nothing but compensate our desperation and frustration. Worse still, these meaningless remarks and behaviours only serve to reinforce the enduring (mis)perception that Hong Kong people are economic animals that are neither interested nor capable of playing the political game. Among other factors, this is precisely why both the British and the Communist Chinese have denied Hong Kong a more accountable and effective political system that is long overdue.
This is why I am so hopelessly frustrated with all the rhetoric about the chief executive elections. News reports are dominated by public relations campaigns that are meant to twist and distort perceptions. Journalists fail miserably in their duties because they have been running after the candidates and the people around them for soundbites rather than asking the critical and sensible questions. Discussions are bias-laden, out of focus and losing sight of the truly important issues. If we are too busy or apathetic to reflect on our future, or simply incapable of thinking sensibly, then we should stop complaining about our seriously flawed political system. We are just getting what we deserve.