Ice Bucket Challenge is for charity ... and politicking

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 24 August, 2014, 3:43am
UPDATED : Sunday, 24 August, 2014, 11:04am

A bit of silliness can go a long way in the age of social media. Rich, powerful and famous people around the world have taken up the Ice Bucket Challenge by drenching themselves in cold water. And it's all for the sake of charities. The challenge went viral in the United States this summer. It has now caught on in Hong Kong. Commerce chief Greg So Kam-leung and environment minister Wong Kam-sing have done it in front of the cameras. So was challenged to take the freezing shower by HKTV boss Ricky Wong Wai-kay, who had earlier undergone the challenge himself with a group of colleagues.

Other big names who soaked themselves for charity include film star Andy Lau Tak-wah and singer Joey Yung Cho-yee, as well as Chinese University vice-chancellor Professor Joseph Sung Jao-yiu.

What began as an attention-grabbing exercise to raise money for research on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, has morphed into a global phenomenon for people to donate money to the charities they champion. Initially, people who were challenged had a choice of pouring cold water on themselves in front of a camera or donating money. But in Hong Kong, as elsewhere, many have felt obliged to do both. It has also given a comical twist to the often bitter fights between pan-democratic figures and pro-establishment politicians.

Wong and his political assistant, Michelle Au Wing-tsz, took on the challenge after being nominated by lawmaker Kenneth Leung of the Professional Commons. Civic Party lawmaker Dr Kenneth Chan Ka-lok has challenged Beijing's liaison office chief, Zhang Xiaoming, and pro-establishment march organiser Robert Chow Yung to take up the exercise. Meanwhile, Beijing-loyalist Leticia Lee See-yin called out media mogul Jimmy Lai Chee-ying, former chief secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang and the Civic Party's Claudia Mo Man-ching after soaking herself.

That's politicking, but at least it's for a good cause.