Re-branding is a typical corporate reaction to self-inflicted disaster – like poisoning customers with tainted produce. But what do you do if you are not merely suffering a disaster but are one?
We might think that an organization run by and for businessmen would have a clue about such things as marketing, but this supposes that we are talking about genuine capitalist entrepreneurs who are accustomed to competition and effort. In Hong Kong, the top tycoons’ idea of a business is a sole intermediary or monopolistic distributor trading goods and services essential to the survival of human life. If daddy left you the only well in the village or the government gives you the right to operate the only bridge across the river, you don’t need much in the way of acumen to make a fortune.
Thus the talent-free Liberal Party is the least convincing of Hong Kong’s plethora of make-believe political movements (with the possible exception of its own splinter group, the almost-creepy, amphibian-infested Economic Synergy). Even in a rigged system that allows losers with well below 20% of the popular vote to get a directly elected seat in the Legislative Council, the LP is confined to small-circle functional constituencies representing grubby vested interests. People may argue over whether the Civic and Democratic Parties are a pathetic waste of space besotted with their unattainable ideal of universal suffrage, Regina Ip’s new New People’s Party is a desperate gang of second-rate opportunists, or the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of HK are no more than a bunch of Communist Party stooges. But all agree on one thing: the LP are vile and repulsive slime-bags who imagine it is their birthright to blatantly put sectoral interests ahead of the public good.
They hit a new low this time last year when one of their number suggested that the proposed minimum wage should be set at HK$20 an hour. There are sound economic arguments against a statutory minimum wage, but brazen demands to have the right to starve employees somehow failed to capture the public mood, and any hope the LP ever had of creating some sort of alliance between cartel-owning tycoons and the middle-class middle ground evaporated. It is now the task of the New People’s Party – snotty, smug and shallow but relatively non-corporate – to convince better-off Hongkongers that being able to choose their own government would be a bad thing.
Thus it happens that Liberal Party unveils a new logo. This follows their old stylized ‘L’, which transmuted at some stage into a yellow bend reminiscent of a certain fruit on whose skins cartoon characters slip and fall over. To my untutored eye, the new design is an improvement, and indeed better than 95% of the logos that surround us everywhere we look. However, even the most elegant and memorable visual ditty can be ruined by an idiotic explanation of its profound meaning, and the Standard duly reports a variety.
Legislator Miriam Lau opines that the new badge shows that the LP will “keep pace with changes in society,” as Louis XVI also no doubt said at some stage. Textiles heir James Tien proclaims it “very chic,” thus extending by yet another day his 64-year track record of never once saying anything that made the remotest sense. The logo’s designer, one Alan Chan, apparently claims that the two loops and dot are derived from the Chinese characters for liberty (the first two, distinctly box-shaped, characters in the party’s name). His similarly optically challenged partner (presumably in the business rather than Elton-John’s-boyfriend sense) reckons it looks like the mathematical symbol for infinity. Perhaps the idea is to represent the length of time it will take the LP to cease being odious; it can only get more so as the semi-decent Selina Chow fades from the scene.
It is, of course, the aforementioned Miriam Lau who represents the transport functional constituency, a franchise dominated by dozens of taxi, minibus and trucking bodies and in which the MTR, which moves millions of Hongkongers a day, has just one vote. She is the reason every attempt to reduce roadside air pollution, up to the recent and pointless idling engine ban from which nearly vehicle is exempt, fails. The colours of the new logo, it goes without saying, have extensive and deep meanings unto themselves. And green stands for… environmental protection. Whatever its many faults, at least the LP can always give us a good laugh.