Only for show

PUBLISHED : Monday, 28 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 28 November, 2011, 12:00am


During election season, it's easy to get tunnel vision. When chief executive candidates announce that they will soon announce what everyone has known for months, and that becomes 'news', we know we've been sucked into a political black hole.

When a PowerPoint presentation is packed not because of its content but for effect, alarm bells should be ringing. Showboating may be a necessary evil in election campaigns, but if the public is reduced to being showboated by PowerPoint, it's just pathetic.

The powers of the chief executive office may be great and, therefore, many may feel warranted to use whatever means at their disposal to get them. The point of campaigning, however, is to showcase the candidates' visions and what they see as ways of achieving them. Unfortunately, we have been hearing too much about what so-and-so thinks so-and-so should talk about.

Many people have been advising the candidates to slam the government, to feed off public discontent. Has anyone considered how absurd that advice is?

Both candidates were integral parts of the current and previous administrations. However they try to keep their distance, they will not be genuinely seen as unconnected. A contest about how each could get one up on the other, by severing links and slamming the administrations they were very much a part of, would serve no purpose.

Heeding such poor counsel would result in candidates backing themselves into a corner: if it was so bad, why didn't they just leave? Certainly, the current administration would not suffer as a result of such attacks, while the two candidates would only discredit themselves in the eyes of the public.

They would invite questions about their political skills, and their ability to effect change during their time in government. Concerns would also be raised about their character. Abandoning past teammates and colleagues (civil servants) who do the grunt work, solely for personal gain, speaks volumes of one's nature; it is downright stupid, for the candidate may be digging his own political grave. Even if such a candidate wins the election, who would be left to help implement his policies?

An election campaign that rides on candidates' regrets - the should-haves and could-haves - will serve no purpose. Just as an election cannot be won with PowerPoint presentations, regrets aren't exactly a show of political strength or leadership. Sadly, from what we have seen so far - the petty fights, snide comments, and display of 'supporters' like we're in a meat market - it is apparent that our candidates suffer so badly from election tunnel vision that they are missing the big picture.

What this city is looking for is a leader; someone who sees that the global economic conditions are not exactly rosy, and has a plan for the challenges and threats that are closing in fast on Hong Kong.

What we don't need are candidates who make empty promises, and who are too self-absorbed to see past themselves. Talk is cheap. Actions always speak louder than words. And it's time for our chief executive candidates to focus on this city instead of themselves.

Alice Wu is a political consultant and a former associate director of the Asia Pacific Media Network at UCLA