Do as I say, not as I do for a more ‘exciting life’

Hong Kong’s opposition lawmakers are quite happy to send young people to the front lines of battle; perhaps their own children should lead the charge

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 June, 2018, 4:15am
UPDATED : Monday, 18 June, 2018, 4:15am

I am just reading a fine collection of English-language short stories called You think it, I’ll say it. If you rephrase it as “You think it, you’ll say it”, I wonder if that would make a good explanation of what a gaffe is, especially when it’s made by a politician.

After all, a gaffe is really an utterance made in an unguarded moment when a politician says what he or she really thinks. Civic Party lawmaker Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu had to make an apology last week in the legislature for something he said last year.

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Referring to those activists who were jailed for eight to 13 months last year following an appeal by the government, Yeung said then that “having a criminal record will make one’s life more exciting”.

The activists were trying to storm the Legislative Council building to protest against a proposed government development plan in the northeast New Territories. They are taking their cases to the Court of Final Appeal.

Pro-government legislators have recently been rounding on Yeung’s infamous statement, especially in light of the heavy sentences imposed on 19 people convicted on charges relating to the Mong Kok riot in 2016.

Yeung said he misspoke, and that he didn’t mean it. In any case, he said his mistake was not as bad as those made by people – by whom he presumably meant his pro-government rivals in Legco – who had no credibility or morality.

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I will leave aside how credible and moral Yeung really is, but why would anyone say something like that if he didn’t believe it?

Indeed, it seems fairly typical of the thinking of most opposition politicians, who are only too happy to goad young people on and send them to the barricades against the government.

For their activism, which sometimes turned violent, they are being portrayed as martyrs and heroes.

Opposition politicians blame the government for prosecuting those youngsters, but are shamelessly oblivious to their own cynical opportunism in exploiting them to gain political capital, at whatever cost to those young people.

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You never see those opposition leaders send their own children to the front lines. During the week that nine Mong Kok rioters were jailed for between 28 and 51 months, the son of democracy icon Martin Lee Chu-ming had a big wedding to marry a heir of the Sasa cosmetics fortune.

But hey, those rioters can look forward to a more “exciting life” ahead.