Climb Avery mountain

My first encounter with a 2012 Legislative Council election hopeful takes place bright and early at the bottom of the Mid-Levels Escalator. Candidates must have some sort of roster for using this spot in the morning because you never see more than one group campaigning there at the same time, yet it’s a prime canvassing location, delivering a stream of voters commuting down to Central on Hong Kong’s human conveyor belt.

Today’s leaflet-thruster is the personable Avery Ng Man-yuen of the radical League of Social Democrats. He is cursed with the unlucky ballot number 14 but, on a more auspicious note, wears smart-casual rather than a silly party-branded jacket or sash.

A couple of other contenders have already been here in the last week or so, and they will no doubt be back over the next three weeks. One was the Federation of Trade Unions, who have an incredible five candidates running in Hong Kong Island. As pro-Beijing champions of the working class, they don’t hand out literature to people who look vaguely well-off, anyone under 50 or Westerners. Luckily, the Mid-Levels has a few elderly residents for them to greet and fawn over. Today’s South China Morning Post surveys election pamphlets and finds that most have little or no English content. Oddly, the FTU on Hong Kong Island is pretty much bilingual.    

The other candidate was an extremely forgettable nonentity. It might have been this guy, one Hui Ching-on, who’s an independent…

Would you buy a used car from this man?

Avery was the first one to press a leaflet on me, so he gets a special mention. Sadly, the website address on it – www.manyuen.com – leads to some language school in Canada. After experimenting, I track him down at www.manyuen.hk. The government has also allotted him a page at the Electoral Affairs Commission site. Neither contains all the content of his bilingual leaflet. If this sounds a bit amateurish, that’s because it is. From what I’ve seen of the 14 groups on the ballot on Hong Kong Island so far, his communications effort is above-average. (At least we don’t have people running for office who blurt out bizarreness about ‘legitimate rape’ or think the UN would have the wit to ban golf courses.)

Avery gives his life story (educated in New Zealand) and outlines the LSD’s manifesto (release political prisoners in China, report Donald Tsang to the ICAC, oppose brainwashing National Education, mourn for Li Wangyang). Then he lists his platform. It’s quite good – for someone in a Trotskyist group, anyway. I’m not sure about nationalizing public utilities or planning bits of the economy, but the items on land and tax reform make sense, as do little things like ending the school textbook scam.

The LSD are rabble-rousers who pull stunts like throwing bananas during the Chief Executive’s address to the Legislative Council (a witty allusion to the ‘fruit money’ old people’s allowance). To the pro-establishment media, they are malevolent social misfits and a reason to be wary of democracy. To mainstream pan-democrats, they are hotheads whose antics provide the government with excuses to curb potentially useful parliamentary devices like triggering by-elections and filibustering. To their fans, they are the only people in Hong Kong politics who have a clue.

In the 2004 election, future LSD founder ‘Long Hair’ Leung Kwok-hung more than trebled his previous vote at a time of intense anti-government feeling. Analysis showed that much of the grassroots street-fighter’s support came from well-educated 20-somethings. In 2008, he and his comrades won 10% of the vote (the FTU won 5.7%, the main pro-Beijing DAB party got 22%), leaving the LSD with a proportionate 3 out of 30 democratically elected seats. With seven seats now up for grabs in Hong Kong Island, and both pro-Beijing and pan-democrat groupings set to cannibalize their ideological allies’ support, young(ish) Avery looks like a tempting protest vote.

Click to hear the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing ‘Climb Every Mountain’!

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16 Responses to Climb Avery mountain

  1. Real Tax Payer says:

    I hope that as someone over 50, western and is well-off enough not to have to bother with looking well-off, someone can explain to me before the magic “double nine” voting day what is the difference between the Radical League of Social Democrats, the Democratic Radical League of Socialites – sorry Socialists , and the League of Democrats for the Betterment of Socialism.

    Otherwise I’m just going to vote for the gorgeous 29- year old Ms Chu Tin Hok in the FTU brochure which can be accessed by Hemmer’s “bilingual” link above, on condition that she gives me her mobile number and that she is indeed a bi or at least cunning linguist

  2. Maugrim says:

    Lol the LSD ie flag burning was sooo last month. Mind you the irony is that Long Hair”s English would put a few better educated candidates to shame. I also saw Regina campaigning last week dressed in the sort of sunhat favored by Japanese or Korean “Oba San” standing with a candidate in a bright pink shirt who couldn’t even bring himself to do the fake smile and wave thing they normally do. No Thunderbird sash either.

  3. Revolution says:

    A few thoughts on campaign literature:

    Someone (possibly group no 9) is using “we deserve better” as a slogan. I hope that Hemlock is getting royalties.

    The only English slogan on the front of the Liberal Party’s leaflet, featuring Miriam Lau in big white glasses, is “say no!”. I can certainly say no to the Liberal party and Miriam if that’s what they want.

    Miriam’s leaflet also says that an English version of her stuff is on facebook or something. This seems fair enough to me: how many non Chinese readers are going to vote for her or are interested in what she has to say?

  4. Bela The Ballot says:

    I was sent two official ballot information packs..one addressed to my own name and the other for a mysterious Chinese person who certainly doesn’t live here and didn’t get a pack sent to him last election…

    What could it all mean?

    Police, ICAC or brown envelope from the candidate rigging the election? What do you suggest?

  5. Big Al says:

    @ RTP – compare with People’s Front of Judea / Judean People’s Front / Popular Front of Judea / Campaign for Free Galilee, etc.

    As for the gorgeous 29- year old Ms Chu Tin Hok … marks out of two?

    I was accosted by the very presentable Junius HO, an independent running in the New Territories (West) geographical constituency. While his slogans “for a Constructive Change” and “Fed up? Flare up!” are unlikely to win any major PR awards, he did tell me in perfect English that his website has information in English. Unfortunately his website is on facebook, and as I’m the only person on the entire planet without a facebook account, regrettably I was unable to see what he has to say …

    … which leaves me voting for any candidate who has the foresight to to provide their election platform in Hong Kong’s Other Official Language.

  6. Vile says:

    Re: the Liberal’s “Say No” campaign – I always thought that any true democratic ballot should have a box for “None Of The Above”. We’d soon empty those parliamentarian-type seats.

  7. Joe Blow says:

    I’m also non-Facebook.

    let’s start a club !

  8. Headache says:

    Ah, Junius. Pro-CEPA cheerleader, failed former candidate for the Legal seat and muppet par excellence.

  9. Stephen says:

    I am also non-facebook and non HK Island. I notice that the esteemed Michael Tien is running in my constituency which may be enough to get me voting to try to ensure the arrogant twit doesn’t sneak in.

    Lee Wing Tat for me – not that i’m expecting English, looks or competance it just seems he’s the lesser of evils and lets face it the Pro-Dems are going to need all the help they can get.

    Just imagine a Legco with no Tien’s, Miriam’s, Jasper’s, Tommy’s, Vagina’s etc etc ad nauseum …

  10. Bela The Ballot says:

    As regards candidates with sex appeal may I repeat that

    TANYA CHAN

    has all the requirements of the Asian honey pocket Cupid, bouncy, humorous, broad-minded and undoubtedly fun-loving with a punch in every inch of her diminutive but perfectly-formed, lithe body and gorgeous, pouting, nubile, radiant visage.

    She can be spotted at the junction of Garden and McDonnell Roads as darkness falls, canvassing in fetching sash…

  11. Walter De Havilland says:

    Don’t bother going to Miriam’s facebook page … the English content is not there! Meanwhile in her brochure Regina neatly forgets to mention she was driven from office by thousands marching on the streets. She mentions working as an AO, then skips forward years by stating ‘I looked for more opportunities opportunities to serve the community.’ A sweeping revision of history.

    Top score for the most absurd brochure must go to the FTU SWAT team. I’m assuming the guns are for shooting out lights as part of their campaign to reduce light pollution.

  12. Real Tax Payer says:

    @ All who, like me, hate f***book

    Let’s field our own candidate on an anti- f***book platform and win.

  13. Will.I.Am says:

    Ah, yes… Fakebook. No better way to hijack a thread than to mention the dreaded FB. Of course, Hongkers being The Ultimate In-Crowd crowd, everyone and his koi seemed to be on FB. I was at a large social event where FB was being dropped copiously right and left in conversation when I realized the trend seemed to be that everyone under 30 was “on” the thing, and hardly anyone over. I set out at once to rectify this and the next day claimed my very own FB page huzzah!… only to find within an hour of casual carousing about that it was a complete shambles of “friends” rambling about the inanities of their daily lives and sharing photos of their wonton lunches. Worse than MySpace by a mile and not remotely as sizzling and entertaining as YouTube. When I read that 80 million FB accounts are fake, 80% of “traffic” generated is by bots, and one of the angel investors was a CIA front (“Imagine a single webspace where people _voluntarily_ hand you over their every detail of their personal lives; their friends, acquaintances, habits, photos, political opinions… voluntarily!” some Deputy Director of Intelligence salivated in some interview) and their business model is basically a data mining sweatshop…. I promptly abandoned my (anon) acct.

    Shorted FB right out the gate and smiling all the way to the bank. Missed Groupon… shame shame… let’s do more of these. Yes, it’s another tech bubble, but you can barely see the bubble through the bubbles these days, and yes, I’m shorting Apple. I realized Apple was a short when I recently went to Shamshuipo to replace my aging phone cover and found that basically Samsung S2/3 covers had supplanted the iPhone stock and this is exactly what happened when Apple upended Nokia from the Hong Kong market. My 2 freshly-acquired FB cents, thank you Markie Suuuuuckkkkkerberg.

  14. Vile says:

    I vote for starting a non-facebook user facebook page.

  15. Jonathan Stanley says:

    Who’s using Google+?

    Disclosure: Been Fecebook-free since the NYSE:FB IPO.

  16. Probably says:

    Count me in for the anti-FB brigade. I have received numerous invites to join and yet I suspect none of these from real persons, more the “bots” mentioned by that guy from teh Black Eyed Peas above.

    BTW, Bela, love Tanya too but don’t like the new new haircut.

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