My Take

Long Hair for chief executive? Pull the other one

Street protester-turned-lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung has thrown his hat in the ring to be Hong Kong’s next leader, but his bid is simply nonsense

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 09 February, 2017, 1:25am
UPDATED : Thursday, 09 February, 2017, 1:25am

Leung Kwok-hung wants to join the chief executive race. Nicknamed Long Hair, the veteran street protester-turned-lawmaker announced his intention to join the fray yesterday. The question is, why?

It has long been rumoured that Leung wanted to be a candidate but was held back by more mainstream pan-democrats, who argued that it would be counterproductive for him to do so. Clearly, he has broken ranks and is supported by several localist lawmakers.

‘Long Hair’ Leung Kwok-hung’s bid for Hong Kong’s leadership will widen rift in pan-democrat camp, critics say

In a rambling speech yesterday at a press conference, he offered an explanation of why he was jumping in now. He said he would only run if he could gather more than 37,790 signatures – 1 per cent of the registered electorate – on the internet as an exercise in civil nomination. He admitted he was not the best candidate, but argued the pan-dems needed one of their own on the ticket. However, he also said the Election Committee was “a small circle” and his joining the race would expose its illegitimacy.

I leave it to wiser minds to make sense of his rationalisation. It all sounded completely incoherent.

Ditto his localist friends at the press conference. This is the same person who rounded on fellow pan-democrats – Alan Leong Kah-kit of the Civic Party in 2007 and Democrat Albert Ho Chun-yan in 2012 – for running in the chief executive race. He had argued their candidacy lent legitimacy to an illegitimate election process. Now he is doing exactly the same. Indeed, the current Election Committee consisting of more than 330 pan-democrats and their allies is without doubt more representative than the “small circle” membership of previous committees. That’s all the more reason for the pan-dems to use their votes wisely rather than wasting them on Long Hair.

Pan-dems have the votes, but will they use them wisely?

As for Leung saying he would only run if he had enough public support, this, too, is a meaningless gesture. Perhaps he should simply field a non-human candidate, a long-standing democratic tradition as a means of casting a protest vote, satirising the system or just providing entertainment. It would achieve the same purpose, except the candidate would be far cuter. A pig, a chicken, a dog, a cat or even a hamster would do.

Given the anti-government and anti-mainland sentiments of large swathes of our population, such an animal would no doubt attract many internet votes. It may prove to be even more popular than Long Hair.