My Take

Scholarism protesters have taken over from 'Long Hair', more's the pity

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 November, 2013, 4:37am
UPDATED : Monday, 18 November, 2013, 4:37am

Move over, "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung, it's time to retire. Young political activists are taking over the streets. They have proved far more willing to storm police barricades, scuffle with officers and disturb the peace. The torch has passed to the next generation. Leung, who for at least two decades has been the eminence grise in street protests, is passé. These days, his antics in the air-conditioned Legislative Council chamber are just too tame.

Just look at those brats from Scholarism, who led another rally against Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying on the weekend. Its leader, Joshua Wong Chi-fung, was agile as a monkey as he slipped from one officer to another. Not only do kids like Wong have nimbleness and speed, they have endurance as well. They can lie in wait for hours for unfortunate souls like Leung to show up, have a brief period of intense scuffling and sloganeering, then wait for hours again for their targets to finish whatever public functions they attend before starting all over again.

Long Hair, who rarely trims his mane except when serving brief jail time, is rarely seen on our streets these days. Middle age has set in; those aching bones are no longer fit even for 1990s-style protests, which were much milder than now. The beer belly and love handles are showing. Kids like Wong and his friends are disgustingly slim and fit.

I do have a soft spot for Long Hair, though, who is fun to talk to and have a drink with after a day's work rallying and me reporting. He has a quirky sense of humour. He is like a child who never outgrows the need to disturb the peace of adults. Deep down, despite all the Marxist or democratic posturing, he must find it ironic that such an unemployable career as street protesting has landed him with a cushy job that pays HK$80,000-plus per month and more than HK$20,000 in expense claims thanks to disaffected taxpayers or voters who put him there.

By contrast, Wong and his pals are self-righteous, doctrinaire and humourless. Their idea of direct democracy - anyone can nominate anyone to run for high office - is at odds with representative democracy practiced almost everywhere in advanced industrial countries. If Wong could at least crack a joke, people might take him more seriously.