My Take

Applying Marx to government dinners

PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 13 September, 2013, 2:42am

Wasn't it Groucho Marx who said "I don't care to belong to any club that will have me as a member?"

I share the sentiment. That is why I don't have high hopes about a series of dinners which chief executive Leung Chun-ying has been hosting to gauge the views of a cross-section of society on political reform to achieve universal suffrage. I am one of the guests invited for next week. Fancy that. These guys on Upper Albert Road must be pretty clueless to want to know my views.

Still I don't want to decline, seeing the big production that Leung's office has made to organise the dinners in Government House. It's a bit rude for the Journalists Association and Scholarism's Joshua Wong Chi-fung to reject the invitation. Hey, he's the chief executive! Yeah, yeah, I know, it's not quite like the governor of olden days inviting you to dine with him. Still I don't think we need to throw bananas at Leung at every opportunity.

Both groups criticised the dinners for "not being transparent" enough. Scholarism said such meetings should be open to the public. Perhaps they want Leung to give everyone in Hong Kong a free dinner.

For the association, it was because guests would be barred from quoting what officials said. Leung's office responded that the confidentiality rule was imposed in similar past engagements.

But that's unfair. Government officials get to know our views but we can't quote theirs. In such settings, all officials would only be capable of making the most anodyne comments. So why are they so worried about being quoted?

If Leung really wants to consult the public on universal suffrage, he should start now instead of hosting lunches and dinners. It must spoil the appetite to have to argue over the composition of the future nominating committee. Leung is expected to launch a consultation early next year. But why wait?

As Civic Party's Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu said: "I hope [Leung] won't organise such things any more because you really need a consultation to get things moving."

Still, I just can't resist the chance to drive my beat-up, unwashed Mazda into Government House.

It will have to be the cheapest, filthiest car ever driven into this august institution.