Shaken by the dismal 23 per cent turnout for the Election Committee nomination exercise last week, concerned parties have urged the authorities to redouble their efforts to publicise the elections proper to the Legislative Council. The Government's propaganda machine has already moved into high gear to lure the 2,795,371 registered voters to cast their ballots on May 24. Despite the confusing polling arrangements, it is virtually impossible for anyone in Hong Kong to remain ignorant of the upcoming elections. The SAR will be saturated with campaign messages from both candidates and official sources during the six-week countdown to polling day. If the promotion campaign turns out to be a failure, it will be due to overkill, not a lack of publicity. There is a danger that some electors will be turned off by excessive election messages. All aspirants can enjoy two free mailing services to distribute campaign materials to the electorate, and officials have projected that in May each elector will receive more than 23 campaign letters posted by the Government. This does not include those delivered by the candidates themselves. Between the two mailing services, it would hardly be surprising if more than 60 campaign letters wound up in your letter box. Should there be three or more voters in your family, the tally might well approach 200. Unlike commercial junk mail, voters are not protected by any 'opt-out' arrangements to preserve their peace of mind. Coupled with leaflets and stickers handed out at restaurants, bus stops and shopping malls, any reasonable person could be excused for being turned off by the campaign. Some mainstream publications have come up with regular half-page specials on the elections, mostly opinion survey results conducted by the Chinese University and the University of Hong Kong tracking the popularity ratings of the major political parties. Radio Television Hong Kong has planned a series of 20 forums in which geographical constituency nominees will debate with their rivals. Residents of Hong Kong Island, for example, will see the same list of candidates in their constituency confronting each other four times, most likely over the same issues. The Government broadcaster will also focus on the most keenly contested functional constituencies. Metro Broadcast, which did not show much enthusiasm for covering the 1995 elections, has scheduled five weekly specials starting next month to give listeners a better idea of their future representatives. Alan Tam Wing-lun's official theme song for the Legco elections is destined to become the best-heard ditty in the run-up to polling day. It will dominate the Government's Announcements of Public Interest spots in the electronic media. Akin to the 'Keep Hong Kong Clean' campaign, the election promotion song has adopted a 'This is our home' approach. The song, entitled This Home, with lyrics written by James Wong, is now available only in Cantonese. Neither the tune nor its lyrics are easy to remember. The song harps on the theme (strangely enough) of selfless love. With little adaptations, it could easily be turned into a carol for the Community Chest, or any other charity. 'I try and express my best for you,' sings Alan Tam, 'hope you can feel it; each and every one of my efforts are out of my selfless love.' It ends with the refrain: 'to bring colours to my home, splendid colours; for our future, I cast my vote, a symbol of all love.' Inflating electoral ambitions to such levels of philanthropic benevolence borders on hypocrisy. Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa and Chief Secretary for Administration Chan Fang On-sang both hailed the Election Committee nominations as being 'fair, open and honest', when they inspected the polling stations last Thursday. What they did not say was that even they -the most powerful political figures in the SAR - are denied the right to vote in the EC exercise. They are two of the 2.67 million general geographical voters being discriminated against. Their franchise only values at one-third that of the privileged few who also have a say in the functional and EC elections. Most voters have indeed accepted the elections as a fait accompli and are willing to make the best of them. Overselling by the Government might be counter-productive.