• Thu
  • Aug 21, 2014
  • Updated: 7:55pm
PUBLISHED : Saturday, 05 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 05 January, 2013, 2:38am

Rent-a-mob on the road to rancour


Chief Asia correspondent Greg Torode is one of the most experienced reporters in the region. In his 20 years at the SCMP, Torode has spent 15 years as a correspondent, travelling extensively to report political, strategic and security developments. The way the region is adapting to China’s rise has formed a key part of his work. His exclusive stories and analyses are widely followed by regional and international media.

Pro-government rallies are like a peculiar Hong Kong kaleidoscope. The longer you stare at them, the stranger they look.

Pro-establishment organisers taking their support of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying to the streets may well be congratulating themselves on money well spent (quite literally). The rallies, after all, did serve to dilute the impact of the New Year's Day anti-Leung rally, which proved to be significantly larger than expected. Theirs was a cunning propaganda stunt.

But they are playing a dangerous game if they think this represents a sensible way forward. For various reasons pro-government rallies may prove counterproductive; there are good reasons why they are so rare elsewhere.

Their claim to represent the "silent majority" in the face of what they insist are noisy, unrepresentative and agenda-ridden attacks from those against Leung now looks pretty shabby. The turnout - estimated by police at just 8,000 - hardly bolsters that claim. Courting the "silent majority" - a fluid, bipartisan mass at the best of times - is tricky.

Then there is the lurch off the high road. At various times the pro-government forces are able to make ground, in some quarters at least, with their concerns that Hongkongers protest too easily, that the political scene here is far too radicalised for the sake of its own development. Start deploying precisely the same tactics - and fuel them with cash - and suddenly you're riding the back road to rancour. But most dangerous of all is the risk that the pro-government sector will start, again, to believe its own propaganda. This risks further stifling very necessary internal debates.

Whatever the flaws of the anti-Leung movement, there are important messages about the need for integrity and better governance that must be heeded.

Pro-government rallies ultimately only serve to highlight the tragic flaw in Hong Kong's system - one that gives elected legislators no chance of power and those in power, such as the chief executive and his team and the civil servants, no direct mandate from the people. More democracy, better policies and inclusiveness are the only rational way around such hazards, not rent-a-mob manoeuvring.


Related topics

For unlimited access to:

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



This article is now closed to comments

With all due respect to wchin, not all politicians are the same. There are the Maos,Stalins,Hitlers, and there are the Churchill,Mandela,Sun Yatsen & Ghandis.
The primary and glaring issue faced by Hong Kongers is that under the farcical system,she is ruled by an "elected" (anointed) Beijing lackey at all times, with a supporting cast of bureaucrats drawn from the upper echelons of society - totally detached and immune to the desires and needs of the vast majority of the great unwashed citizenry masses.
The astounding clumsy display of aloofness and incompetence by all (Tung,Tsang & now the foxy Leung), does not bode well for the Island's continuing welfare.
The protests imbalance - 6 digit numbers by the anti Leung movement, versus the rent a mob 4 digit crowd "silent majority" speak volumes about the pent up angst of Hong Kongers for them and their chidrens' future under the status quo.
Anarchy may be the crisis that just may be the answer. Crisis does provoke drastic clear sky solutions.
whether pro or anti government, as long as it's done legitimately, then fine. are we naive to believe that the anti protests are not organized by his opponents?
granted his policies have raised the ire of the HK people, like national education but with the protests, they have been pushed back (at least he's reacting to the sentiment).
all these protests to push him out of office, is it useful?
Look at Japan, 7 prime ministers in 7 years. The next one (Tang, whoever) is not necessary different. All politicians are the same.
@"More democracy....(is) the only rational way around such hazards"
Rubbish! Look what a mess "freedom and democracy" has done for the ungovernable USA and to Europe, where as much as half its unemployed youth has no future.
Ungovernable??? It seems that those who click recommend really didn't read your comment. Down with the USA. Down with democracy. You are too quick to try and turn an argument into a case of 'us against them'. China against the West. It's nothing of the sort.
We have massive unemployment in China, where people are consigned to the scrapheap at 50. Does this mean that China has the wrong system of government?
Surprised to see such a shallow comment from you captam.
Dai Muff
And yet more mainland Chinese are sending their kids to the USA than vice-versa.
more mainland Chinese are sending their kids to the USA than vice-versa
we have to weigh in the total population & its age demography as well as the affordability (wealth) before we can conclude.


SCMP.com Account