City Forum's shouters should shut it
City Forum was never meant to be a place for shouting matches. But nowadays, the Sunday meeting in Victoria Park rarely ends peacefully.
What was supposed to be vehicle for civil discussion among scholars, officials, community representatives and members of the public has become a magnet for angry radicals, disgruntled youths and outspoken old men. The forum, organised and broadcast live by RTHK to dissect the most topical issue of the day, has become a microcosm of the city's noisy and fractious politics.
Edward Yum Liang-hsien personifies this growing trend. The People Power activist was back on Sunday, shouting rebuttals from the audience against Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong vice-chairman Lau Kong-wah. Lau was on stage explaining why he believes the government had to close easily abused loopholes in the by-elections law.
An appreciative audience applauded when Yum showed up. He had been missing from the weekly forum for several months under a cloud of rape and indecent assault charges. As soon as he was cleared by the police, he jumped right back into the thick of the debates. Why? Because, improbably, City Forum has been the springboard for his political career. It is difficult to characterise Yum. He is not exactly a politician. He has never run for as much as a district council election. He rose to prominence solely by challenging City Forum guests, though never offering a coherent alternative agenda. What he and his colleagues offer is rejectionism, negativity and an attitude: say 'no' to just about anything from the establishment.
His political theatre may gratify some people, but it does not augur well for the quality of our political discourse.