For one family, reform debate fails to get message across

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 June, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 18 June, 2010, 12:00am

To the Au family, the debate between Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen and Civic Party leader Audrey Eu Yuet-mee was merely a show that did nothing to enhance their knowledge on the subject.

Sitting in front of the screen with her two children at their home in Lai Chi Kok, primary school teacher Kathy Lo Kin-yan said she was watching for the sake of watching.

'We should have suffrage, but I don't think watching the debate or doing anything radical can help.'

Describing herself as 'sort of politically apathetic', she said a stable life for the two children was most important to her.

'Democracy and votes are less linked to my daily life.'

She did not vote in the May by-elections or the 2008 Legislative Council election, saying: 'It was not that meaningful to pick from an average list of candidates. Citizens have little power of control in policies.'

She had expected to gain some insight into the reform proposal from the debate but was disappointed.

'The debate was flat without much interaction. I didn't gain much knowledge from their speeches,' said the mother of three-year-old Zachary and one-year-old Chelsea.

But she got some inspiration. 'When the two sides kept debating a step forward for suffrage, I was wondering whether that government ad featuring a pair of dancers was speaking the truth: is the step forward leading us to the right direction?'

Her husband agreed.

'It was a so-so show,' said Au Ka-wai, who is also a primary school teacher. 'But it reflected Tsang's shortcomings. It was not a debate, but a show for both sides to present their stances.'

He said Tsang was less wooden than he had appeared on other occasions but seemed to be suppressing his anger when cornered by Eu.

'He ... did not look sincere,' he said.

He gave Tsang a fail mark describing him as a 'below-average political speech maker' and expressing doubts whether he 'really believes in what he has been selling'.

To Eu he awarded 8 out of 10 for her better preparation.

'Supposedly Tsang invited Eu to the debate for a chance to fight for more support. But evading his opponent's questions without offering real substance on the proposal will only create a negative impression with the public,' he said.

As might be expected from a child, Zachary's views were simple.

'It was boring!' he shouted from the end of the room. 'All three of them [including host Ng Ming-lam] did not laugh so it was scary. But the auntie in red [Eu] was better.'