Democrats turn to TV in votes hunt

PUBLISHED : Friday, 20 August, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 20 August, 2004, 12:00am

Taking its cue from The West Wing, the party hopes to show that it can handle power

The party once led by Martin Lee Chu-ming is using a lesson in governance from another Martin - The West Wing's fictional president Josiah Bartlet, played by actor Martin Sheen - in its quest for votes in next month's Legislative Council elections.

The Democratic Party is launching a public relations campaign portraying itself as a party ready to play a responsible role in government.

It is also stepping up campaigning in the Kowloon East constituency to counter any negative impact from the detention in Guangdong of one of its candidates in the election, Alex Ho Wai-to, after he was caught with a prostitute in his hotel room.

The party's election strategists yesterday released footage from its latest campaign, showing besuited party leaders and election candidates in earnest discussion and strolling along Legco's corridors of power.

'We want to project the image of a multi-seat majority party which is professional, responsible and capable in its role at the legislature,' said Democrat Gary Fan Kwok-wai, who is overseeing the project.

Mr Fan said the two-minute, black and white video portraying members as a presidential cabinet at work was inspired by The West Wing. The popular American TV series shows President Bartlet and his aides making tough decisions and emerging victorious from political dramas.

Stills from the Democrats' campaign will be e-mailed to voters in the next few days. Links in the e-mails will allow recipients to watch the two-minute video, which also introduces election candidates.

An edited 30-second version will be shown on television, while stills will feature in print advertisements. The campaign is an attempt to change its image as solely a party of opposition and to project a centrist look.

As well as image building, the party is to pour manpower and resources into Kowloon East after Mr Ho - who is third on the party's list of candidates in the constituency - was ordered to undergo six months' re-education through labour after being arrested last week in Dongguan. The party's election strategist, Law Chi-kwong, said it had decided to step up canvassing in Kowloon East for Wu Chi-wai, the running mate of Fred Li Wah-ming and Mr Ho.

The latest rolling opinion poll of 328 Kowloon East voters, conducted by the University of Hong Kong and think-tank Civic Exchange in Kowloon East from Friday to Tuesday, showed support for the lists headed by the Democratic Alliance for Betterment of Hong Kong's Chan Kam-lam and pro-democracy barrister Alan Leong Kah-kit had both risen 3 per cent compared with surveys conducted from Thursday to Monday, while the Democrats' support was down 1 per cent. All the figures were within the survey's margins for error.