Forum airs views, then insults
A forum at which by-election candidates were supposed to hear the concerns of elderly people turned into a shouting match yesterday.
The senior citizens wanted the candidates to consider their worries on such issues as medical service and welfare. Instead they were treated to a display of name-calling during which they also came in for criticism - prompting an apology from a 72-year-old organiser of the event.
The forum, held by a group of senior citizens under the care of Caritas Social Services, drew about 200 people each to morning and afternoon sessions.
The first clash was between Wong Yuk-man of the League of Social Democrats and a rival in the West Kowloon constituency, businessman Wilson Shea Kai-chuen.
Wong, who claimed success in pushing the government to increase the old age allowance to HK$1,000 a month, was criticised for having thrown a bunch of bananas at Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen in 2008. Wong shot back: '[Shea] has no credibility. He is in the pro-establishment camp and the New Century Forum, a fringe group of the Communist Party.' Shea earlier denied any link with the establishment.
Wong then took on Hong Kong Island candidate Wong Hing, who lamented that the questions from the floor had gone off-track.
'You should not criticise our seniors,' Wong Yuk-man, one of five lawmakers to quit their Legislative Council seats to force the by-elections, told Wong Hing. 'I lose face by being on the stage with you.'
Host Tai Shui-ching, 72, then told Wong Hing: 'We elderly are not as intelligent as you. Please be tolerant if we have offended you.' The independent became a target again when he said he gave up his family in Canada to come to Hong Kong for the election. Chants of, 'Get back to Canada' were heard from the audience.
The afternoon session for the New Territories and Kowloon East constituencies was less combative, with candidates pledging to improve services for the elderly.