If Hongkongers can see past the political posturing, why can't our politicians?

Alice Wu says it's too bad Hong Kong politics is played out like a predictable soap despite the city's sophisticated audiences

PUBLISHED : Monday, 28 April, 2014, 4:03am
UPDATED : Monday, 28 April, 2014, 4:03am

I enjoyed Johnny Depp's latest sci-fi flick, Transcendence. It makes people think, and I find in it a reason to be optimistic about politics in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong people are, in fact, politically aware. We have braced ourselves for a marathon filibuster that will consume lawmakers and government bodies until the Legislative Council president "cuts" it sometime before the end of May. We know this from experience, of course. This is the filibustering season.

We're not reading into it more than we need to. And we're not attaching more emotions or reactions to it because it is nothing new. Call it political "adaptation" if you want, but we know how things work and how they will end; our political actors are oh-so predictable.

We're not disengaged in politics, which points to a negative suggestion that we have embraced cynicism. It's only that we understand our political actors and their politics. It's this acute awareness of our political circumstances that has led us to this state of transcendence.

Whether or not one agrees with the purpose for filibustering is irrelevant. Whether or not one agrees with the method used for the purpose is also irrelevant. "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung will do what Long Hair does - it doesn't really surprise us any more. Whether it's hell money or other objects, Long Hair will throw it. Here's what we expect based on simple logic: Long Hair will throw something, someone may or may not get hit, regardless of which he will get ejected from the chamber, and that will be the end of it. Nothing consequential will come out of the act except for the fact that something is thrown and nothing gets accomplished.

It's not meaningless, because we learn from it the lesson that whatever Hong Kong people want to achieve should not be left in the hands of Long Hair.

The last thing the intended recipients of his thrown objects would allow is to accede to his demands, because doing so would, first, enable and reinforce his projectile obsession; and second, subject them to more projectile abuse, which for any reasonable person is something to be avoided.

So we can all wave the possibility of a universal pension plan goodbye, at least for this year, whatever may unfold in the chamber in the name of it. It's just not going to happen.

We're no longer arguing over the merits of filibusters. We've moved on: we've achieved transcendence.

This is also true for two Democrat veterans' trip to the United States. It has happened before, and Beijing's outrage is as predictable as gravity, as predictable as the chorus of condemnation that rings out whenever the usual suspects make a Yasukuni shrine visit. The rhetoric is the same, and the result is the same. However deserving of merit their reform proposals may be, they will be rejected. It's all part of the natural course of these political events.

The question now is, are our politicians similarly self-aware? The Hong Kong public is politically sophisticated. When will those who act in our name catch up?

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