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Two contrasting messages were delivered on video this Lunar New Year.
On the one hand, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying took the opportunity to mark himself out as a man of the people by getting his hands dirty mixing traditional turnip cakes with a group of chefs using ‘recycled’ ingredients before eating them with elderly residents in need.
His oft repeated theme was ‘sharing’ – a message that could well be levelled at Hong Kong’s wealthy elite. With its soft focus and warm fuzzy colours Leung’s video is a fine example of how to project soft power, inspired perhaps by Xi Jinping’s undoubtedly spontaneous visit to Beijing restaurant serving squidgy savoury buns last month.
On the other hand, US Consul General Clifford Hart, takes the Year of the Horse a bit too literally in his message. Featuring Hannah the Horse, a finger puppet of the US government who wants to join the consulate’s car sharing scheme as a “one-horse power; green alternative, the lengthy video message appears pitched towards Hong Kong’s under fives in both tone and delivery.
The consul and members of his staff address the diminutive equine puppet as if it were an applying for a green card. It tries very hard to tick all right boxes as Hannah endures a series of stilted interviews from staff as she does her best to prove her value.
She eventually faces Hart, who practices his Cantonese and appears to offer her a job as his chauffeur. No expense spared in this Hollywood production.
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's Lunar New Year speech
This is my second Lunar New Year’s message to the people of Hong Kong since being appointed chief executive and, in common with previous years, my wife Ching-yi and I decided to mark the occasion by making a short film.
When we were considering what style of movie to make, my colleagues suggested it should involve real people and welcome the Year of the Horse with a balance of optimism and caution.
One of my most fond memories of celebrating Lunar New Year during childhood is enjoying the seasonal food. When I recalled hearing about voluntary organisations in Hong Kong that avoid waste by recycling food and donating it to people in need I decided to make the film on the theme of ‘sharing’.
After contacting one of the organisations concerned, Ching-yi and I found ourselves working as volunteers in a kitchen preparing turnip cake, one of the most traditional new year’s delicacies. When our work was finished we joined elderly members of society at the community centres around the city to enjoy the cakes. It was very enjoyable to talk with them over lunch in the run up to Lunar New Year and we were almost unaware of the cameras rolling in the background.
Shooting went smoothly – relaxed and without drama – and the film turned out a success. It was a pleasure to share the food we had helped prepare and I would like to take this opportunity to thank the voluntary organisation we worked with and all the others involved who offer help to those in need at this time.
While we celebrate the Lunar New Year with our families, I hope everyone will share their happiness with people with need. May we all enjoy love and warmth in our home of seven million people during the Year of the Horse.