Leung revels in the dreary detail

Alice Wu realises, after sitting through Leung's numbingly dull policy address, exactly why our politicians are often at cross purposes

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 21 January, 2013, 3:35am


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At some point around noon last Wednesday, it occurred to me, like a bolt of lightning, that I have no idea who Leung Chun-ying is. Obviously I know he holds the highest political seat in the city, but who is this man?

It happened some time during his reading of paragraphs 73 to 78 of his maiden policy address. I was dumbfounded: this man really is going to go through each and every plot of land, tell us about them, in hectares and the projected number of flats they will produce.

Of course, this self-made man "made himself" by using his knowledge of land and its potential. It explains how he can go through the details in that manner - droning on and on, like the drilling that goes on and on at my neighbour's ever-renovating flat.

But for him to think that his audience would sit through it is truly befuddling - or, perhaps, telling.

The man does not seem to be unaware that his way of conducting politics is unconventional. It is fair to say that he just doesn't care about being the type of politician that people expect to see today. He doesn't care that speaking in terms of hectares and numbers of flats is not going to excite the masses. He cares not for droopy eyelids. He ploughs on, and on, and on, seemingly unfazed by his low popularity figures.

Others in similar poll-stricken predicaments would have been throwing sweeteners at everyone, to buy back some popularity decimals.

But no. Instead, this man did the unthinkable. He didn't bother to dress up his maiden policy address - no niceties, let alone sound bites. He dazzled no one. He didn't even twinkle.

In his monotone voice, he transported me back years and reminded me of the professor one inevitably encounters in college. He is the academic everyone tries to steer clear of; the one who has perfected the art of boredom at the podium. He reads from his lecture notes from start to finish, offloading his knowledge, with not a care as to whether he made his students cry or yawn.

Leung is unlike any politician we know. We are familiar with the lofty and romantic notions some of our lawmakers speak only of, and they are good at it - resuscitating the ghosts of Rousseau, Locke and Hobbes to back their cry for Hong Kong people to stand in the path of this man who ploughs on and on.

But Leung speaks a completely different language. He's on a whole different plane.

It's almost as if our politicians are somehow living in parallel universes. One talks of revolution, the other talks of the 33 hectares that would provide 8,700 flats at Kam Tin South West Rail Kam Sheung Road Station and Pat Heung Maintenance Depot. One talks of a return to the state of nature, and the other talks about the 4.9 hectares of land to be supplied by the Urban Renewal Authority.

Those who have sworn to be this man's obstructionists have a lot of rethinking to do.

And the chief executive himself needs to plough quicker - because, as pragmatic as he believes Hongkongers are, we are also exasperatingly impatient.

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