Public Eye

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 May, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 May, 2010, 12:00am

A civic duty to vote? What a load of bull

Public Eye didn't vote on Sunday. We didn't buy into all that bull about it being a civic duty to vote. Sunday's election was simply a game of hardball politics. Five pro-democracy legislators quit so they could run again in by-elections to highlight their cause. When an election is forced on the people as a political ploy, it loses currency. This relieves everyone of their civic duty to vote, including the chief executive. Civic duty rests on sacred ground. It rises above political games.

Political hardball plays both ways

Political hardball is a game with no rules. If you play it, expect hardball from the other side, too. A breakaway faction of the democracy movement initiated a game of hardball politics to force Beijing's hand on a democracy road map. Five lawmakers quit to force by-elections, calling it a referendum on democracy. The faction expected everyone to play by its rules. It imagined a perfect world where droves of voters would vote down the pro-establishment figures, sending a message to Beijing that the people are impatient for democracy. But the other side played hardball politics, too. It boycotted the election, branding it a waste of public money. Outmanoeuvred, the instigators of the by-elections cried foul. They blamed dismal voter turnout on the boycott. They smeared Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen for failing in his civic duty to vote. They tried to mask their failure as success. And the moral of this story? When you dare others to play hardball politics, don't expect them to just lie still while you pound away at them.

By-election losers using fuzzy logic

What's in a number? Those who orchestrated the by-election say their vote tally of about 500,000 compares favourably with the half a million who marched in the July 1, 2003, street protest. Public Eye says that's losers using fuzzy logic. When half a million took to the streets in 2003 they represented the mood of an entire society fed up with poor leadership. The mass protest was spontaneous and largely apolitical. It united a city. The half million voters who backed Sunday's forced by-elections simply represented the hard-core views of a radical faction in the democracy movement. Placing the election on the same pedestal as the 2003 march tarnishes the good name of that march, when Hongkongers rose up as one to have their voice heard.

Months of hype fail to sell 'referendum'

Split-second decisions should be avoided at all costs in politics. The five legislators who quit to trigger the by-elections didn't make that mistake. They took their time thinking it through. Yet months of hype about a so-called referendum on democracy failed to boost voter turnout. At the end of the day only 17.1 per cent of the electorate turned up, hardly an outpouring of support. Opinion polls had long showed voters opposed a forced election. But the five refused to do an about-face, risking their Legislative Council seats to champion democracy. Does that make them unsung heroes or just clueless politicians? There, Public Eye has just used the five most overused cliches in journalism, according to The Australian newspaper. Can you spot them?

Thrill of the chase drives flat sales

Donald Tsang says he's puzzled by why far fewer people are buying flats now that prices have dropped. He can't understand why people only buy when prices soar. It's elementary, my dear Tsang. Hongkongers regards flats as a way to get rich quick, not as a home. When prices jump everyone gets into a frenzy. Developers create this frenzy with midnight sales and last-minute releases of prices. Speculators fan this frenzy. But when prices drop the thrill of the money chase is gone. Speculators lie low. There's no quick killing to be made. That's why Hongkongers stay away.