Trumping Trump: With Hong Kong gearing up for an election, brace for lawmakers spouting even more offensive nonsense
Alice Wu says finance sector lawmaker Ng Leung-sing’s distasteful comments about bookseller Lee Bo’s disappearance may well be a sign of what’s to come in the run-up to the Legislative Council election
Most of us have an idea what 2016 is going to be like, politically. It’s going to get uglier than ugly. It’s going to take us to new depths of the bottomless pit. We are guaranteed this because our politicians are geared up for the Legislative Council election. And they have got infecting them Donald Trump, who is shocking the world over with his inflammatory and blatant indecency.
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There are already a few who have shown that they and Trump are cut from the same cloth. Making “When will you die?” a question of official lawmaking business may just trump Trump. But the Trump bug seems infectious – how else to explain all the offensive nonsense spilling out of our lawmakers’ mouths?
Mistaking insults as bona fide debate is making a joke of the political process. Making a mockery of serious illness and the work of mental health professionals dedicated to help others is beyond distasteful. Suggesting there may be health benefits to consuming water with an appropriate level of lead is beyond unconscionable.
This political contest of outrageousness and preposterousness reached new heights (a new low, to be more accurate) last week, when finance sector lawmaker Ng Leung-sing felt that it was his “duty” as a legislator to read an unconfirmed and vicious rumour circulating online about the mysterious disappearance of Lee Bo; his way of “honouring” the public’s right to know.
Since the advent of nonsense politics, Ng’s reading in a security panel meeting of a text message from “a friend”, suggesting that Lee and his missing associates were arrested for patronising prostitutes on the mainland, has to be a farce of the first magnitude. Ng effectively went from thinking the unthinkable – that lead in water has health benefits – and doing so out loud, to simply skipping the thinking altogether by reading words directly off his phone screen.
The descent from faulty thinking to simply passing off forwarded messages as truth has to be the epitome of stupidity. It’s especially worrying and insulting since Ng represents the finance sector. We can now reasonably wonder how he would respond to, say, an online request by some Nigerian royalty to help recover large sums of money from an overseas bank, or a call from someone who claims to be an employee of a mainland security official.
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When did political gaffes become so common? When did apologies for them become opportunities to speak more nonsense? Ng apologised for his remarks, but still insisted he was giving the public “another perspective as rumours were circulating”. The twisted logic of circulating rumours as a public good is an affront to our intelligence.
When our lawmakers tell us that outlandishness and mockery carry the same weight as serious discourse, deliberation and reason in politics, we know something is seriously amiss. Every time legislators make desperate and ridiculous attempts to masquerade maleficence as beneficence, they betray the public good. And when they are blind to their ways, we know that what is amiss is a basic sense of common decency and an astonishing lack of discernment.
These are sad times when we have to ask those who claim to serve the public good to recover a basic sense of decency. Those in Legco who wish to keep their seat need to start showing the public they are ready to clean up the political cesspool the lawmaking body has become.
Alice Wu is a political consultant and a former associate director of the Asia Pacific Media Network at UCLA