The banners of 2012, part 1

For many smaller businesses in our cartelized, monopolistic, anti-competition World’s Freest Economy, advertising presents a problem. There are only two broadcast TV stations and a small clutch of commercial radio outlets, and the airtime is far too expensive for most companies. Space in newspapers isn’t cheap, and there is no equivalent of the suburban editions published by city papers in the US, in which advertisers can target just one neighbourhood. Prominent billboards and neon signs cost big bucks. Many small businesses have no choice but to add to the clutter of street-side signage, install garish audio-visual displays or push fliers into mailboxes or into the resistant hands of passing pedestrians.

With a few high-profile exceptions, our politicians are mostly like small and medium enterprises when it comes to publicity. In some districts candidates stand by the roadside waving at passing traffic – begging for sympathy votes, presumably – or they wear costumes and canvass on bike or open-topped bus. Mostly, however, they hand out leaflets. And they drape banners on railings, just as housewives in the more third-world parts of town dry bed sheets.

The government allocates candidates patches of railings known as ‘designated spots’. They cannot be visible from traffic junctions or pedestrian crossings, in case they distract drivers and you get an accident (note that this ban doesn’t apply to any other eye-catching signage, like graphic ads for breast enhancement services). The guidelines for electioneering are detailed and inflexible, and politicians’ banners are similar in size and shape.

The design of these banners is often dismal. The grumpy old pro-Beijing guys have the worst: an unsmiling portrait in a circular frame, and little thought given to typefaces or colours. But some are OK, and this one for ‘big sister’ Pamela Pak, the radio personality running for the new and confusing at-large District Council Functional Constituency is almost worth stealing and sending to a young relative who would love it on her bedroom wall…

The name is pronounced ‘baak’, as in ‘baak choy’ – as befits someone with a cadaverous white face. But most people write ‘Pak’ in English, while she seems to have adopted Peck. Are we supposed to subliminally think ‘…on the cheek’? I would like to think so; it’s one device the Electoral Affairs Commission hasn’t banned. Any resemblance of the candidate to Audrey Hepburn is possibly not coincidental, and indeed is a testament to the wonders of PhotoShop. The photo is close-up and cropped and goes right to the edge of the poster with no margin or frame (‘bleeding edge’ in graphic-speak). This is a modern look; traditionalist old grouchy pro-Beijing types wouldn’t want to portray themselves this way, not least because it’s bad feng shui to ‘cut’ a bit of yourself off.

Then we have the colours – so rich you can almost taste them. The warm raspberry flavour of the fuchsia-pink clothing is echoed in the background to the characters announcing her name and is in sharp contrast to the fresh, crisp mint of the green background, while the dark blues of some of the lettering add a hint of respectability and gravitas – as if to say “I am more than just a tax-dodging, ex-convict joke-candidate with an embarrassing clown for a partner, with whom I have become a poor man’s Brenda & Kai-bong Chau.” Design-wise, as we shall surely see when we take a few steps further down the pedestrian walkway outside Exchange Square to examine Pamela’s rivals’ efforts, this is a classy Legco 2012 banner.

On other matters (1)… You are Paul Chan. You have been given the job of Development Secretary to solve Hong Kong’s appalling housing problems. The public finds out that you in fact make money out of the suffering caused by Hong Kong’s appalling housing problems. A man stands up to defend you, but he is property tycoon Henry Cheng, who could fairly be said to be one of the reasons Hong Kong has its appalling housing problems. The South China Morning Post intones: “…analysts are not sure this will be enough to steer Chan through the crisis…” You are inclined to agree.

On other matters (2)… Looking through some rather weighty material on the South China Sea – or Sansha City, as we should now call it – I read that Beijing is discouraging Mainland citizens from visiting the Philippines. Voila! Do we finally have an explanation for the Hong Kong Security Bureau’s mysterious continued ‘avoid all travel’ Black travel advisory for the islands, so long after the freak Manila bus hijacking in which Hong Kong tourists were killed? Could it be one of those little duties the Big Lychee’s authorities have no choice but to perform owing to pressure from above? Like turning away exiled dissidents and Falun Gong members at the airport, or like having a brave stab – at least – at introducing Article 23 security laws or national education? A riddle solved, maybe.

Click to hear Audrey Hepburn sing ‘Moon River’!

This entry was posted in Blog. Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to The banners of 2012, part 1

  1. Quick Silver says:

    At least one Chinese newspaper prints a suburban edition for bucolic Tuen Mun.

  2. Real Tax Payer says:

    Today is beat-Bella-to-the-mark day….

    If one clicks on the blue link “confusing” in the Pamela Baak piece ( (Hey ! Isn’t she the society lady who did jail time for something horrible… tax avoidance or the like : but then again , these days one positively needs to have jail term in one’s resume, or at least to have been indited for something evil , in order to run for legco ) …

    …back to “confusing” : click it and go to the Standard link and look bottom left to the Potshot pick/ click/ enlarge. Now that’s what I consider a good campaign advert. Bikinis and birds…

    I would vote for her any day !

  3. Bela And The Spin Doctors says:

    Henry Cheng has had high ambitions ever since taking over from Daddy Cheng Yu Tong. Every piddling honour he garners from the mainland is trumpeted like the Nobel Prize in New World’s PR organs. EIther he is really ambitious to serve the community or the ICAC files on New World are growing too thick for comfort.

    Meanwhile…in the news…

    Let’s all support Standard Chartered, the bank which gives us understated head offices, elegant bank notes and talking ATMs! And it’s green!

    Bela’s B Side is now out…MONEY LAUNDERER:

  4. Headache says:

    Seems a nice time of year to visit the Philippines.

  5. Sir Crispin says:

    Wham, bam, thank you Pam.

  6. PropertyDeveloper says:

    I wonder if blue isn’t a little infra dig on the local spectrum.

    For once Hemlock has been a little slow off the blocks: haven’t you noticed the relative dearth of fruit from outre-Sansha City?

    Perhaps we could call her, on the model of tips-i and look-ee, Pak-ee?

  7. Walter De Havilland says:

    Having seen ex-convict Pamela Pak up close on the 14M PLB, I can confirm that photoshop was at work to produce this picture. In real life she looks like a bulldog chewing a wasp. Occasionally she can be seen on Tai Hang Road frightening passing children and dogs.

  8. Old Timer says:

    Isn’t Pamela Pack/Pak/Pock the lady who accuses every man who disagrees with her of groping her juggs? And what about that Causeway Bay flat-cum-guesthouse that got her into hot water a couple of months back? Already forgotten? Then maybe she could be next up for Dev Sec?

  9. Walter De Havilland says:

    Apparently Pamela was a trolley dolly in the past. Given her age that must have been on a Sopwath Camel.

  10. Stephen says:

    Anyone know when Pammy Pak (Peck, Vegetable) started donning a hat ? Is she Bald ? If she took the hat off would voters confuse her for People Power’s ‘Big Man’ Albert ? Did it start when the CSD threw her a prison cap and it morphed into this ‘ladies day Ascot’ look.

    Is Hong Kong’s legislative election starting to look at little like something The Philippines puts on every four years ?

  11. Big Al says:

    No, she was the camel! And what’s with the hat? Has anyone seen her without one? I think the only reason she wears one is that she’s bald as a coot and has a huge “666” birthmark on top of her head. We deserve the truth! I think the public should be told!

    All of this electioneering reminds me of an old Spitting Image sketch in which Brian Walden asks Neil Kinnock what he would say to people who accuse him of blatant electioneering … he responds “Vote for me!”.

  12. Real Tax Payer says:

    Ze leetle grey cells do not fail me…

    Here’s wikipedia on Ms Peck / Pak/ Paak / BAAK

    “Your CHOI-ce”

    ( PS : This explains why Paul Z has no chance : he’s honest, clean and straight , so no way he is qualified to sit in Legco with all the ex-cons, stock market manipulators and common-all-garden swindlers)


    Peck came to Hong Kong from China when she was three months old. Her dad died and her mother could not support her, so she went to live with her mother’s sister, accompanied by her wet nurse.[1]
    She says that her uncle was ‘dissolute’ and would often bring girlfriends home. But her aunt befriended them so that they left.
    Peck was seen by social welfare officers. At around age 15, she ran away with a boyfriend, missing her HKCEE exams.


    She became a flight attendant and hosted radio programmes when not flying. Three years later she went back to school, and later studied TV broadcasting at the graduate school of San Francisco State University.
    Her name was made with the launch of her talk show ‘Heart To Heart’ in 1986. She was known as the ‘Queen of Late Night Radio’ for her on-air relationship advice.

    (Later), on her radio show Talk of the Town people discussed their love lives openly on air, to which she gave typically pithy but practical advice.
    Conviction and imprisonment for tax evasion

    On 19 April 2001, Peck was convicted of tax fraud and sentenced to three months in prison. She had forged meal receipts and employee salary records to evade $210,000 in profits tax.
    She had pleaded guilty to four counts of assisting Platinum Promotion Ltd with intent to evade tax between 1994 and 1998 – effectively four taxation years – by signing fraudulent returns. She held 99.9 per cent of the shares in the company.

    Peck served her sentence, at Tai Lam Centre for Women, a low-security prison. While serving her sentence, she was not allowed to contribute to any of the various publications for which she wrote columns.[2][3]
    Since the mid 1990s she has been the partner of ‘celebrity’ lawyer and legislator Paul Tse.

    Tse is also her legal representative ( !!! WOW ! )

  13. Private Eye says:

    This is going in Pseuds Column next week….

    …Then we have the colours – so rich you can almost taste them. The warm raspberry flavour of the fuchsia-pink clothing is echoed in the background to the characters announcing her name and is in sharp contrast to the fresh, crisp mint of the green background, while the dark blues of some of the lettering add a hint of respectability and gravitas

  14. darovia says:

    On the subject of the Philippines maybe that her adopted moniker Peck is short for ‘pek-pek’ – a piece of Philippine slang that describes most politicians.

  15. PropertyDeveloper says:

    Or pe-pe, also known as bum.

  16. Joe Blow says:

    “with whom I have become a poor man’s Brenda & Kai-bong Chau.”

    Are you saying that Paul Tse is a homo and she is a lez ?
    Is THAT what you are saying ?
    Are you implying that they are not married (yes, they are married) in the “biblical sense” ?

    Not that there is anything wrong with that.

    I saw Pam a little while ago walking in CWB and, yes, she looks scary. Like, prematurely embalmed.

  17. Real Tax Payer says:

    I propose a big vote of thanks to Hemlock for The Big Lychee !

    Yeah !

    At least we do a lot less damage by writing and generally piss-arting here ( or in Bella’s case: dubbed singing on Youtube) than beating down the doors of Tamar Base , which is hard to do from a home based keyboard, still less physically speaking on a hot and highly polluted summer’s day

    Hey Ho , Hey Ho , it’s off to the keyboard we go…


  18. pcrghlll says:

    Jesus, this is turning into a freakshow – Mr Hemlock, make it stop!!!!

  19. Incredulous says:

    I once had the dubious privilege of photographing here for a now defunct TV magazine covershot in 1986 and even then the make-up artist needed a cement-mixer to fix her face! I’d hate to see her in real-life now.

Comments are closed.