The Celine Tam show (and some guests)
Patriotic speeches took a backseat on National Day yesterday. Instead, we had the X Factor, Hong Kong edition.
Public relations minders scored a big one for the Hong Kong government by putting Celine Tam Tsz-kwan on stage. Boy, the seven-year-old girl can sing!
Performing effortlessly, Tam sang Secret Garden's hit You Raise Me Up, Beyond's Truly Love You, and the patriotic My Motherland in multilingual succession.
It was the patriotic highlight that stole the whole patriotic ceremony. And everyone went away talking about the girl, oblivious of the speeches given by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and friends.
That was just as well. Anything associated with Leung these days automatically gets booed. But who could be so heartless as to pick on a little girl, even if you were the most hardcore nativist or diehard pan-democrat?
The overnight sensation had been well-rehearsed.
For each song, her father Steve Tam had her practise 10 hours over three days.
A music teacher, he started training his daughter at a young age and sent her to music contests on the mainland.
She has apparently won eight championships so far, including a singing contest in Guangzhou where she competed with 3,000 children from around the country. One of her YouTube clips has been viewed more than 400,000 times.
I don't know about you but all that training and competition sounds a bit like excessive tiger-parenting to me. And where does she find time for school and to study? Or is she being home-schooled?
Questions aside, the PR exercise has been such a success some papers didn't even bother to report what Leung said in his speech. It was something about the need for Hong Kong to be more understanding of China. You could have said the same thing about Beijing.
Given the feel-good emotions and goodwill young Celine has generated, officials may be tempted to invite her back for more.
That may be a double-edged sword, though, because no one remembers what you have to say when she gets all the spotlight.
Just ask Leung.