• Sun
  • Dec 28, 2014
  • Updated: 8:06pm

In their own words

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 04 December, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 04 December, 2011, 12:00am

We've heard them talk about ways to alleviate Hong Kong's housing problems and improve education. We've read about them boasting of their achievements in public service, and the whispered counter-spin about past missteps in their political lives.

We've even been treated to tear-jerking stories of how they beat the odds to climb the social ladder and become the people they are today.

For the past few weeks, the leading candidates in the race for chief executive have been baring their all - or at least their version of all - to anyone willing to listen as they attempt to fashion themselves as thoughtful, respectable and compassionate people worthy of the city's top political position.

However, the one element that has been largely absent from the discussion is culture.

Throughout the years, those seeking positions of power have had their choices of audio-visual entertainment or bedtime reading scrutinised as the press seek a hint of the real people behind the polished veneer. In turn, the candidates - with the help of campaign strategists - have also sought to convey subliminal messages by letting the public know which film, song and book have most moved them.

As the race for Government House heats up, The Review sent out questionnaires to the four politicians who have joined the fray: former chief secretary of administration Henry Tang Ying-yen; ex-convenor of the Executive Council Leung Chun-ying; legislator and former security secretary Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee; and Albert Ho Chun-yan, legislator and chairman of the Democratic Party.

They were asked seven questions about arts and culture, and encouraged to elaborate 'in considerable length'. Here is what we received.

Henry Tang Ying-yen

What are your favourite Hong Kong and foreign films, and why?

If You Are the One [by mainland director Feng Xiaogang] is my favourite Chinese-language film because of its dark humour and witty dialogue. Casablanca is my favourite foreign-language film. I enjoy the twist, and the characters' loyalty and passion. The song, As Time Goes By, is a timeless classic and has touched my heart.

What's your favourite piece of music, and why?

Nessun Dorma in Turandot, written by Giacomo Puccini. It's a beautiful and powerful aria. The music and lyrics fully capture the emotion of the protagonist.

Which book inspired you the most, and why?

The Singapore Story: The Memoirs of Lee Kuan Yew. It recounts the colourful past of Singapore's most famous statesman and his dream of uniting Singapore with Malaysia. In the end, Lee has not always been successful, but I found his great vision and mesmerising personality most inspiring.

How often do you attend local performing arts shows? What was the most recent performance you attended?

I occasionally attend local performing arts shows. I particularly remember one concert performed last year by the Asia Youth Orchestra. The orchestra is made up of a talented group of 100 musicians from all over Asia. Together, they showed that music, as a universal language, allows people to put aside their differences and come together as one.

What's the best museum you've been to, and what impressed you the most?

I think that would be the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. I'm impressed by its continuous efforts to exhibit works from upcoming artists and promote the avant garde. Although the museum is renowned for its paintings by master artists ranging from Picasso to Monet, its curators have an eye for works by young, daring artists from around the world. Hong Kong's modern art scene would greatly benefit from a similar museum.

What are Hong Kong's strengths and weaknesses in the arts, and how can they be cultivated further?

Our multifaceted culture enables Hong Kong people to create unique experiences through the arts. However, we still lack substantial information for people interested in the arts. It is important to give more exposure to Hong Kong culture and the people involved. The West Kowloon Cultural District Authority has been busy searching for talented people to help create and manage exciting projects.

What can be done to create a distinct cultural identity among Hongkongers?

The youth of today will spearhead Hong Kong's cultural development in the coming years. It is essential that we create a solid platform for youngsters and artists to build on and develop in the future, so they will have more room to explore and experiment.

The scion of one of Hong Kong's most prominent industrialists, Tang took the reins of Peninsula Knitters after finishing his studies at the University of Michigan. A chairman of the Federation of Hong Kong Industries from 1995 to 2001, he first attained public office when he was appointed to the Legislative Council in 1991, and then to the Executive Council in 1997. He joined the government in 2003 when then chief executive Tung Chee-hwa named him secretary for commerce, industry and technology; he became financial secretary a year later after the resignation of Antony Leung Kam-chung. Tang served as Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's chief secretary for administration from July 2007 until his resignation from the post on September 28. He was also the first chairman of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority.

Albert Ho Chun-yan

What are your favourite Hong Kong and foreign films, and why?

Night and Fog, directed by Ann Hui On-wah and starring Simon Yam Tat-wah, from 2009. The film brings back every detail of a case [in which a man killed his mainland-migrant wife and their two daughters before jumping to his death] and reminds me how much I want to prevent such incidents happening again. Gandhi, [directed and] produced by Richard Attenborough and starring Ben Kingsley from 1982, is a powerful film taking me through the life journey of the person I most respect in history.

What's your favourite piece of music, and why?

Beethoven's ninth symphony - it's full of passion for love, courage and peace.

Which book inspired you the most, and why?

The Monk & the Philosopher by Jean-Fran?ois Revel and Matthieu Ricard. It explores the ultimate meaning of life through the interaction of Western and Eastern wisdom.

How often do you attend local performing arts shows? What was the most recent performance you attended?

I attend two or three [local shows] a year. The last one was a charity concert of the SAR Philharmonic Orchestra on November 21.

What's the best museum you've been to, and what impressed you the most?

The Louvre in Paris - the paintings.

What are Hong Kong's strengths and weaknesses in the arts, and how can they be cultivated further?

There's a lack of a comprehensive arts policy, especially when it comes to nurturing local talent. Our strength lies in the uniqueness of Hong Kong: a free, cosmopolitan and resourceful place for creative minds.

What can be done to create a distinct cultural identity among Hongkongers?

We should preserve our historic heritage to help maintain the collective memory of our unique history.

A lawyer by trade, Ho formed the Hong Kong Affairs Society in the early 1980s and was a founding member of the United Democrats - the predecessor of the Democratic Party - which he has served as chairman since 2008. Ho was elected to the Regional Council and then the Legislative Council in 1995. He has served as a legislator since the formation of the first post-handover legislature in 1998.

Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee

What are your favourite Hong Kong and foreign films, and why?

My favourite Hong Kong film is Rouge, starring Anita Mui Yim-fong and Leslie Cheung Kwok-wing. My favourite foreign film is Les Parapluies de Cherbourg [The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, by French director Jacques Demy]. I like them because of the fine acting and the haunting theme music.

What's your favourite piece of music, and why?

Michael Jackson's One Day in Your Life. It sums up my feelings about my country and my people.

Which book inspired you the most, and why?

D.H. Lawrence's Sons and Lovers, because of its moving portrait of a young man struggling to grow up as an artist under the shadow of his grumpy, coal-mining father.

How often do you attend local performing arts shows? What was the most recent performance you attended?

I attend Chinese opera performances (Peking, Kunqu, Shaoxing and so on) regularly, but I can't recall exactly when I went to my last show.

What's the best museum you've been to, and what impressed you the most?

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. It has a very large and diversified collection of art, spanning different periods and continents.

What are Hong Kong's strengths and weaknesses in the arts, and how can they be cultivated further?

The greatest strength of Hong Kong artists is their insight into both Chinese and Western cultures, and their ability to cross cultural frontiers.

What can be done to create a distinct cultural identity among Hongkongers?

I think aspiring artists need to broaden their horizons; think deeply, read and travel widely and use their imaginations. Any city's success as a cultural centre comes down to the success of individual artists - it's not just about concrete high-rises or glitzy cultural facilities.

A literature graduate from the University of Hong Kong, Ip joined the civil service in 1975, and was appointed director of immigration in August 1996, then secretary for security two years later. She left the government in July 2003 after massive demonstrations forced the authorities to stall proposals on anti-subversion laws, which Ip had vocally advocated. She went to study at Stanford University in the US, but returned to Hong Kong in 2006, founded the think-tank Savantas Policy Institute, and was elected to the Legislative Council in 2008.

Leung Chun-ying

What are your favourite Hong Kong and foreign films, and why?

One of my favourite films is Echoes of the Rainbow. It accurately portrays the mood of Hong Kong in the 1960s and the positive attitude of the people during that period. As it was a local production by local talent, the film again demonstrates the prowess of Hong Kong's movie industry. The Sea Gull is my favourite foreign film for a very selfish reason: my wife, Regina, and I saw it on our first date. This film inspires people to aim high.

What's your favourite piece of music, and why?

I enjoy modern and classical music, both Chinese and international.

Which book inspired you the most, and why?

I read a wide variety of books, in Chinese and English, and both historical and political. However, The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway is surely on my A-list. It's a story of an old fisherman who, by sheer determination, overcomes the adversity of the oceans and by extension his fate.

How often do you attend local performing arts shows?

What was the most recent performance you attended?

I don't see as many as I'd like to, but I do find the time to catch some, even while overseas. For example, while on a business trip to Singapore recently I saw a show produced by Hong Kong director Clifton Ko Chi-sum. But the most recent was an original musical performed by a group of disabled artists associated with Haven of Hope Christian Service at Tsuen Wan Town Hall in late October.

What's the best museum you've been to, and what impressed you the most?

I don't think any museum can claim to be the best, as each is doing its job to engage people and stimulate minds. Therefore I have many favourites: among them are the Louvre in Paris and New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art.

What are Hong Kong's strengths and weaknesses in the arts, and how can they be cultivated further?

One of our strengths is that we have inherited from both Chinese and Western cultures. And then there's our open society, which is receptive to new ideas from all over the world. But our children aren't adequately exposed to art and culture as early as they should be. This is partly because the curricula at our schools do not contain sufficient provisions for the arts and culture.

What can be done to create a distinct cultural identity among Hongkongers?

Hong Kong people definitely have the ability to develop their own cultural identity. Take Cantonese opera, for example: local productions have developed special features quite distinct from those in Guangdong, such as bringing Western elements into stage design, and so on. (I'm an adviser to the Chinese Artists Association of Hong Kong.) To build on this identity, it's vital that we maintain an environment conducive to freedom of expression - that is, less regulation and more encouragement. This should be supplemented with appropriate resources for training and facilities.

The son of a policeman, Leung studied surveying at the Hong Kong Polytechnic (now University) and then valuation and estate management in Bristol. He joined Jones Lang Wootton on his return in 1977, became a partner of the company in 1984, before leaving to start his own practice in 1993. He was secretary-general of the Basic Law Consultative Committee from 1988 to 1990 and a vice-chairman of the central government's Preparatory Committee for the establishment of the SAR. He was appointed to the executive council in 1997, and was its convenor from 1999 until his resignation from the body in September. He was council chairman of the Lingnan University from 1999 to 2008, and then of the City University of Hong Kong from 2008 to October this year.

Share

For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive
 
 

 

 
 
 
 
 

Login

SCMP.com Account

or