Donald Tsang

Foreign media not impressed by hoopla

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 25 March, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 25 March, 2007, 12:00am

Overseas journalists have flocked to the city to report on today's election.

Print and electronic media, mostly the United States and Europe, have interviewed Donald Tsang Yam-kuen and Alan Leong Kah-kit, while the Al-Jazeera English television station has broadcast two reports from Hong Kong.

But do not think the world has been fooled into thinking a real contest is taking place.

Britain's The Economist headlined an article 'Hong Kong's make-believe election', while The Wall Street Journal's Asian edition headlined its effort 'Alan Leong's losing bid to lead city'.

What has interested most foreign journalists was the insistence of some locals that it is a real contest, with local television channels planning live coverage.

In contrast, Johannes Hano, East Asia bureau chief for German television station ZDF, and his crew would be gone by today. 'What's the point in staying? We already know the result,' he said.

The Washington Post's Beijing correspondent, Edward Cody, said the result was of no interest to his newspaper. 'What's interesting is that there's a campaign, but not an election. That, for me, is strange.'

Lawmaker Emily Lau Wai-hing, who has been critical of local media coverage of the election, said foreigners' reports on the poll were 'closer to the truth'.

Mr Leong said foreign coverage had been able to better highlight 'how rigged and how unfair this election system really is - which is more to the point'.

He noted how Time magazine's cover story carried the headline of an interview with Mr Tsang 'Five more years, guaranteed' and said 'the territory is stuck in a halfway house of confusing, semi-democratic electoral procedures that do not do justice to its well-educated and sophisticated citizenry'.

James Chang, of Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council, was denied entry on Friday when he arrived with journalists from the island.