We need some rationality back in our paranoid politics

The sudden surge in bizarre conspiracy theories about anything and everything is making a mockery of discourse

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 September, 2016, 9:42am
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 September, 2016, 9:42am

Our city’s politics is not only divisive; it’s getting paranoid. Everyone seems to be ready to entertain the most outlandish conspiracies about their rivals, and even members of their own ideological camp. Our politics is becoming pathological. Here are some recent examples.

Eddie Chu Hoi-dick, the newly elected lawmaker who has made reforming the Heung Yee Kuk his political mission, has turned rural leaders into enemies. The conspiracy theory among many village heads and landlords in the New Territories is that he is a paid agent of property tycoons who have amassed huge land banks. Why? To hinder the development of land other than for those projects sanctioned by the tycoons.

Eddie Chu spreading ‘white terror’ with talk of death threats, Yuen Long rural leader claims

If you read Chinese, there are active discussions in such online forums as discuss.com.hk and “Public Group”, a Facebook page set up by self-proclaimed indigenous villagers.

If you think it’s absurd of Donald Trump to accuse Barack Obama of being the “founder of Islamic State”, we have our own version, which considers Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying the originator of Hong Kong’s independence movement.

Its most bizarre version found its expression recently on the front page of Sing Pao, which also claims the Liaison Office in Hong Kong does not represent the central government.

However, similar ideas have been voiced by pro- and anti-establishment critics and activists.

‘The dark shadow of the Stars and Stripes’: Beijing blasts Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong as a pro-independence advocate backed by the USA

Meanwhile, many government and business people seriously think the Occupy movement was instigated by foreign forces such as the CIA. But paranoia cuts across ideologies. Many pan-democrats and student activists believe Leung was behind the sacking of Commercial Radio host Li Wei-ling, as well as the rejection of law professor Johannes Chan Man-mun for a top post at the University of Hong Kong and the cancellation of a creative writing programme at City University – because too many writing projects expressed support for the Occupy movement. Or, if not Leung, it’s Beijing.

Leung was even said to have triad connections which could be behind the attacks on former Ming Pao editor Kevin Lau Chun-to and on some activists in Mong Kok during the Occupy protests.

Paranoia is as old as politics. That’s why we should exercise caution and rationality, especially now.