With the by-election/referendum out of the way, Hong Kong’s visionary leaders urge us to focus on constitutional development.
This is all very confusing. For well over 10 years now, whenever the good people of the Big Lychee spoke out or even dreamed quiet, fleeting thoughts about political reform, a grim-faced man would swiftly appear out of nowhere, grab them by the ear, shove them under a very cold shower and loudly remind them that We Must Focus On The Economy.
And now Chief Executive Donald Tsang is going on the radio to cry “Woe! A thousand times woe! The future of Hong Kong’s democracy is at stake.”
Such is the desperation of Donald. Stop focusing on the economy! Drop everything. We must all do our bit to get this constitutional reform package passed by the Legislative Council. Our leaders, at their wits’ end, are reaching out directly to us. Little, unimportant, nobody, disfranchised us.
Apparently, the idea is that we pick up the phone, call our favourite pro-democrat and say, “Hey Tania, c’mon, be a babe and vote for that package, huh?” To persuade us, the government’s propaganda machinery would normally flood the city with posters and videos featuring either a grinning cartoon character telling blatant lies, or a group of actors pretending to be a prosperous, happy and clean family skipping hand-in-hand through green meadows. And indeed, they did put together a TV commercial featuring wholesome citizens frolicking in a depopulated, oxygenated cityscape – as seen promoting tooth-brushing, mudslide avoidance, healthy web-surfing, vegetable-washing, kindness to the elderly, and so on – complete with voiceover mumbling gibberish about rolling things forward.
It is a mark of the gravity of the situation, however, that a worried senior official (obviously aware, by the way, of the pointlessness of the Information Services Department’s usual work) has demanded a relatively professional campaign.
Thus we have videos aimed at folk with a mental age of over six who can understand a metaphore, like this…
(which even has a slight whiff of humour about it) and this…
(featuring heart-tugging Hong Kong ad industry clichés #6 and #8). And we get some zippy, minimalist posters…
Yes, the complete-the-word concept is unoriginal to the point of being tired. But it’s a world away from the typical ISD Pyongyang-on-Ecstasy approach of “Let’s all say no to drugs and mosquito breeding for a harmonious Hong Kong now!”
Put simply, they’re so desperate to get this package through, they’re not treating the population like total morons – only like the half-morons who swallow private-sector advertising agencies’ output. It must be serious.