Hong Kong enjoys the funny side of the deadly serious Legislative Council elections
Five creative campaigns you should not miss
Rapping like hipsters, dressing up as manga characters, imitating Hollywood shows – acts typical of a talent show are making the rounds on social media. Except that the performers are politicians captured in old video clips from past campaigns as a bout of political nostalgia hits Hong Kong during the month-long campaign for next month’s Legislative Council elections. These creative yet at times incomprehensible clips are providing light relief to an otherwise serious campaign that will decide who wins the 70 Legco seats come election day on September 4.
1. The Civic Party rap
The Civic Party composed a rap song in 2008 calling on Hongkongers to register as voters ahead of the polls. In the three-minute plus video, the party’s professionals, including Audrey Eu Yuet-mee, Alan Leong Kah-kit and Ronny Tong Ka-wah, attempted to rap about all the problems Hong Kong was facing, from the stalemate in constitutional reform to the deteriorating air quality. It might be a piece of cake for these barristers to deliver long speeches eloquently in the chamber, but they all appeared a bit stiff as they danced and rapped. Still, it must have been a happier time given that two of the six rappers – Tong and accountant Mandy Tam Heung-man – have since quit the party, with the former setting up middle-of-the-road think tank Path of Democracy and the latter joining another party, the Frontier.
2. Are you ready? Vote for Reginababy
Young actress and model “Angelababy” Yang Ying is a household name in Hong Kong, but not many Hongkongers would have thought Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, whose “iron lady” image has little in common with Yang’s, would dub herself “Reginababy” in the 2008 Legislative Council elections. Ip’s “summer interns” composed a song that year called “Regina Baby Superwoman Remix”. It was a barely disguised attempt at a massive makeover of her image as it called on voters to vote for the city’s former security chief and the current chairwoman of the New People’s Party. The song started with a catchy Spanish line “Todo el mundo, vota por Regina” (Everyone, vote for Regina) followed by a repetitive phrase “Are you ready? Vote for Ip Lau Suk-yee! Everyone, vote for Reginababy!” Perhaps the song might have made more of an impact if Reginababy did the rap herself. It’s not too late to do a re-mix if she jumps into the fray for the chief executive race next year.
3. The Rice Bowl Dance
It might sound surreal for a Legislative Council candidate to use his precious airtime in a televised election forum to stage a dance, but that was exactly what Jimmy Siu See-kong did in the 2007 Hong Kong Island by-election. Dressed in a traditional black Chinese costume, Siu led his team to perform what he called the “Rice Bowl Dance”. Holding the bowl above his head, Siu and his posse took three steps forward and shouted the word “victory” in unison and then repeated the “dance moves” three times in several directions. Siu said he got the idea for the dance from the old Chinese saying “Food is the first necessity of the people”. The solicitor did not quite reap what he sowed as he harvested just 613 votes in the poll.
4. The FTU cosplayers
The Beijing-friendly Federation of Trade Unions might be politically conservative, but its election campaigns have never failed to surprise Hongkongers. In his 2012 election posters, Wong Kwok-hing, in his 60s, dressed as if he was playing war games. Wong might have wanted to show his commitment to overhaul labour welfare by holding a gun, dressed in a tight black T-shirt with a scarf around his neck, but to many he looked more like a robber than a reformer. Meanwhile, Wong’s colleague Wong Kwok-kin took dressing up a step further by donning the costume of Naruto, an adolescent ninja portrayed in a Japanese manga series. Dressed in a red hat and white cloak, Wong said his look reflected his persistence in fighting for long overdue legislation for standard working hours. But what he has gained instead is a wry online reputation as the “the city’s famous cosplayer”.
5. The Democratic Party’s West Wing trailer
Adopting a more serious tone, the Democratic Party produced a clip to introduce all its aspirants in 2004, a video often touted by insiders as one of their best election videos. With an apparent reference to The West Wing, the classic American political drama series, the video was shot in the old Legislative Council building in Central – which now houses the Court of Final Appeal – as well as the chamber of founding chairman Martin Lee Chu-ming. The huge crew of Democrats was seen debating policies in a serious and earnest manner. The ups and downs of the party were also captured in the video. That year, the Democratic Party was the biggest pan-democratic force in the chamber with nine of its members being returned – including the iconic Lee – compared to just six in 2012. The late democracy icon Szeto Wah was featured in the video along with a baby-faced James To Kun-sun, who was then a mere 41 but already a veteran party lawmaker.
For a full list of candidates standing in the Legislative Council elections, click here.