Cheap theatrics stifle voice of reason
From Japan to South Korea and Taiwan, brawling has been a speciality of hot-headed legislators. But at least most have had the decency to slug it out in their own legislative chambers and constituencies.
Whatever the truth, the alleged dust-up between two Hong Kong politicians in Taiwan, there to observe the island's presidential election, has already reflected badly on our city. Democrat district councillor Andrew Fung Wai-kwong alleged he was assaulted by lawmaker Wong Yuk-man in Taipei. He showed the marks on his face and neck as evidence to photographers. But upon his return to the city last night, Wong denied he had hit Fung. At the same time, his followers in People Power went on the offensive, claiming Fung was in the wrong first for criticising Wong on Facebook.
By virtue of their profession, the two men were acting as unofficial representatives of the people of Hong Kong. Politicians on such missions, even if self-appointed, should act with dignity. Both men belong to political parties that have been at the forefront of the city's democracy movement.
One reason many journalists initially took Fung's claim at face value was because it fitted with Wong's character, a lawmaker well-known for his rowdy and disruptive behaviour. Compared to Wong, old-style democrats have been the voices of reason as critics of the government. They study government documents, and take apart the spin and questionable figures thrown up by officials. Though denied real power, they understand and try to perform the people's business. Officials at least have to answer their objections.
Wong and his fellow radical lawmakers never do their homework. Their grandstanding consists of disrupting public meetings and shouting down officials, who are therefore under no pressure to reply or justify themselves. There's always a whiff of violence in his theatrics.