Hong Kong has a new chief executive. This comes after months of canvassing by a varying number of aspirants that was whittled down to a final three in the weeks before last Sunday, when the Election Committee chose Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor to be the SAR’s head of government.
Going by the ubiquitous campaign posters and televised debates between the candidates, a first-time visitor to the city in those weeks may have been duped into believing that the people of Hong Kong were deciding who should govern them.
Why waste time and money appealing to the masses when only the 1,200 members of the Election Committee could vote? Wouldn’t it have been more economical to send pamphlets to these 1,200 members and save the television airtime for more profitable programming? Speaking of which, I watched one of the debates and found it entertaining though hardly edifying.
One of the most exciting political debates is found in Chapter 43 of the 14th-century historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms. The actual words and details are products of a novelist’s imagination, of course, but the event is historical.
Zhuge Liang, principal adviser to the warlord Liu Bei, is on a mission to the territory controlled by another warlord, Sun Quan, in southeast China, to convince the latter to form an alliance against their common enemy, Cao Cao. The debate between Zhuge and Sun’s coterie of advisers, who advocated surrender to Cao, is a study in masterful rhetoric. With a combination of bellicosity, wit and guile, Zhuge finally convinces Sun to form an alliance, setting the stage for the beginning of the Three Kingdoms period (220-280).