Avoiding the hard sell for by-elections
'May 16 - Polling Day: 7.30am to 10.30pm.' The posters beginning to appear around the city are hardly the stuff to stir electors out of their apathy to vote in next month's by-elections. Cynics might suggest that's exactly the government's intention, given its own lack of enthusiasm for the 'de facto referendum' on political reform being orchestrated by the League of Social Democrats and the Civic Party. While it may be doing its 'constitutional duty' in holding by-elections to replace the five legislators who resigned, that does not, it seems, extend to encouraging people to get out and vote. Nowhere in the posters or similar newspaper advertisements now hitting the streets does the government remind people to vote, which is what an election is all about after all. Contrast this with the 2007 Legco Hong Kong Island by-election, a showdown between former chief secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang and former security chief Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee. 'Let's vote!' screamed the poster that accompanied the TV advertisements that began to be broadcast 14 days before polling day. Time will tell whether the low-key approach this time brings out voters or turns them off further, which would no doubt please our lords and masters. A University of Hong Kong survey of 1,612 people this month showed the voting propensity was 43 per cent, which, according to pollster Robert Chung Ting-yiu, might translate to a turnout of 22 to 29 per cent of the three million voters. The turnout for the Chan-Ip derby was 52.08 per cent. So far, so ... good?
For Tang, mainland is part of the big picture
He is at it again - reminding people to take the 'mainland' into account when he meant to say 'big picture', which has a similar pronunciation in Cantonese. Apparently forgetting how hard he was laughed at earlier this month when he made this slip of the tongue during a constitutional reform proposal briefing in Legco, Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen made the same mistake during a Newspaper Society lunch when he talked about how young journalists differed with their bosses' political stance. It's OK, Henry, we all know what's in the mind of a possible candidate for chief executive.
It's developers who come from another planet
Keeping the Beijing factor in mind is a must for aspirants for the top post, but another chief executive hopeful, Exco convenor Leung Chun-ying, had somewhere farther away on his mind. Following the government's new proposals to curb surging property prices, Leung wrote in his column last week in a Chinese-language newspaper that anyone who considered the government's actions interference in housing matters 'must have been living on Mars for the past 40 years'. After stirring up a controversy, he had to come out on Sunday and clarify that he was not criticising the government for failed policies. Rather, he was taking aim at property developers and people who placed too much trust in the markets.