DAB reaches out to Westerners – it’s getting scary

The Curse of Soho strikes candidate number 13 for the Legislative Council in Hong Kong Island, as a lone campaign worker struggles to erect banners beside the Mid-Levels Escalator…

As the redoubtable she-dragon representing the Transport functional constituency, Miriam Lau did what you would expect a small-circle Liberal Party lawmaker to do: consistently oppose measures to reduce pollution from commercial vehicles and increase penalties for minibus and taxi drivers who kill others by speeding and jumping red lights. The equivalent now would be to promise all voters living between Caine Road and Lyndhurst Terrace that she will get them the legal right to dodge taxes and shoplift.

Landlord Allen Zeman endorses her courage in running for a democratically elected seat. Liberal Party boss James Tien is doing the same – not for the first time – in New Territories East (also with the number 13!). As a voting bloc in Legco, these people have spent years lobbying against anything that would increase business competition or promote consumers’ interests. Now, realizing that Hong Kong is growing less appreciative of people who pander to vested interests, they hanker for the respectability and clout that comes with public approval and want your vote. Good luck with that.

By contrast, fronts for the Chinese Communist Party seem quite decent folk. In the geographical constituencies, candidates for the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment Etc of HK make a special point of pushing grassroots issues like bus services, building maintenance and school textbooks. In the District Council (second) Functional Constituency race, however – the five city-wide democratically elected ‘super seats’ – platforms will be less parochial.

The DAB’s big hope for an extra seat here is youthful, photogenic, etc Starry Lee, deputy president and unofficial member of the Executive Council. To show how serious she is, she has sent out a leaflet aimed purely at an English-language audience. (I am presuming campaign workers went through the electoral rolls and plucked out all the visibly non-Chinese voters’ names and addresses.) This is impressive enough as it is; most candidates, not without good reason, focus on Chinese materials. But so far as I can tell, this is no mere direct translation of something already sent out to the majority 95 percent of the electorate. It looks tailor-made for the ethnic vote…

Essentially, it highlights Starry’s commitment to focusing on the middle class, having a more diverse and fairer economic structure, improving air quality and pushing education, especially for ethnic minorities. In that order. These all appear in the DAB’s platform, but most of them are buried way down there past all the promises about public housing and welfare handouts. The leaflet also has only very moderate DAB branding and largely ignores her four colleagues running on the same list.

In some parts of the US, you see drinks and snacks with ‘extra sweet’ on the label in Spanish. Manufacturers create separate recipes to cater for Latinos’ fondness for sugar. The DAB seems to be doing something similar. They are already active among the Indian and Pakistani communities in Kowloon; now, blathering away about air pollution, they’re even packaging Starry for the Westerner vote. Mainlandization comes in many forms and no-one’s going to be immune.

With this sort of capacity behind her, Starry has a good chance of getting one of the five Super-Seats, though three or four other candidates are almost certain to come ahead of her. The person to vote for if she and her generous campaign funding don’t appeal would be Frederick Fung of the less-than riveting Association for Democracy and People’s Livelihood.

Some say that Chief Executive CY Leung has scrapped plans to attend the APEC conference, sending the Financial Secretary in his place, to pull a last-minute stunt to boost the pro-Beijing vote on Sunday. For what it’s worth, the word is that any ‘Hong Kong land for Hong Kong people’ policy will be purely symbolic. It does seem that CY has sorted out a solution to the liberalization of travel to Hong Kong for migrant workers in Shenzhen and other big Mainland cities: the scheme will be postponed indefinitely, supposedly for further cross-border discussion – and that will be the last we hear of it for a very, very long time. Maybe he is going to announce a similar suspension of National Education, so we’re not thinking of hunger strikers on Sunday? Or maybe we simply shouldn’t underestimate CY’s distaste for pointless time-wasting distractions. APEC and Financial Secretary John Tsang were made for each other.

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12 Responses to DAB reaches out to Westerners – it’s getting scary

  1. Bela Lugosi says:

    I’ve told you before. Any picture of Allen Semen and almost any other member of our Scatocracy (rule by Drittsekk) in the same frame is objectionable. Please desist. Yesterday I was seated on a minibus with images of both Starry Lee AND Jasper Tsang brushing against my eyeballs, quite literally.

    Meanwhile….in the news…

    I hear you, my children. Protest, protest. Toujours l’audace! En avant!

    From my coffin here in the vaults of Government House, amongst the saddles and hunting horns of Governor May, I sometimes dictate to the two Elsies: Elsie Leung and Elsie Tu – as they pause between lines in their embroidery. Here are the subject headings for a new oeuvre called:








    Will this do?

  2. Maugrim says:

    Starry had a poster displaying her concern for ‘Ethic Minorities”. You have to love both Miriam Lau’s obtuse English slogans and Raymond Fung’s refusal to submit to the most essential requirement made by almost all political candidates the world over that they smile frequently.

  3. Cerebos says:

    Yup – well picked-up. If you comb through the available candidate material you’ll notice that not only are all the DAB candidates projecting the same unified message but it is also split between one set of points communicated in Trad C and another (shorter) set of points in English. The sweet irony of it all is that they’re the only party who come close to the level of sophistication of longer established political parties in the West.

    In other news, only the Civic party has actually gone to the length of communicating bilingually and at length – for which I am eternally grateful. And while Ka Lok and Tanya have no hope of actually effecting any consequential form of change, I’d argue that a close compare and contrast of their manifesto with those of the other candidates earns them the moral vote. They’ve even got something in there about animal rights for chrissake, complete with pictures of cute happy fluffy schnauzers.. a genius way of scooping up the middle-class 20 – 40 superficial female (and gay male) demographic.

  4. When your own Secretary of Slumlord Development keeps ownership of his house tied up in 2 off-shore corporations, of course any limitation on purchases of HK land will be purely symbolic. If BoC and CITIC can set up HK fronts, so can every other mainlander.

    And I got my Starry Lee missive via email. Read her stated commitment to democracy and burst out laughing.

  5. Headache says:

    That’s a pretty fair list Bela, although I do hold out some hopes for the younger generation a la Cerebos’ post yesterday.

  6. Sojourner says:

    Good one, Bela.

    Just want to say that you can put a pretty dress on a Beijing dog, but it’s still nonetheless a dog.

  7. Adrian says:

    “It looks tailor-made for the ethnic vote…”

    I always considered the ethnic vote to be 97-99% of the population of HK.

    “DAB’s platform, but most of them are buried way down there past all the promises about public housing”

    Have DAB in the past few years made good on any promise about public housing (assuming its an increase and costs to tenants are reasonable, even by HK standards), while they were generally in the near-majority in the legislature and could have done something about it?

  8. PropertyDeveloper says:

    The only email entirely in English I got was one from James Tien — but he then spoilt it by sending one in Chinese.

    Bela, I think there could be a good book out there, debunking, as Hemlock’s blog does, the HK conventional wisdoms and shibboleths, effortlessly leaping from the politico-philosophical to the psycho-social to the niggling habits and blind spots. But please, a bit less spit and more polish, less pxxx and more pith!

  9. Stephen says:

    The DAB has been reaching out to crusty old gwailos for some time.

    Jasper Tsang used to wish me a “good morning” whilst campaigning as i walked past and would flash that sinister smile of his. The words “Fuck off back to your own country you gwailo scum” for some reason used to come to mind whenever he did.

    The Pro-Dems would not break the monotonous cantonese shouting into their bull horns to engage the me – but no matter.

    A vote for the DAB is a vote for the CCP who generously bankroll it. Not now, not ever would I vote for them. The Pro-Dems are largely an inept lot but offer a miniscule ray of hope.

    Here’s hoping we’ve seen the last of Semen, Tien and the loathsome Miriam.

  10. Old Timer says:

    In Hong Kong politics there’s a fine line between a reach-out and a reach-around.

  11. Real Scot Player says:

    Patten must be watching this from afar and chuckling. Never has scorched earth given so many years of entertainment. This is pure Panto

  12. Real Tax Payer says:

    ‘Evening All

    For once I can claim a frontispiece

    I sent Hemmers the zematic pic, scanned from my mailbox legal junk mail

    Or did Hemmers get the same awful missive in his mail box ? )

    Anyway, I guess I’m in the same position as all of you: which of the plethora of candidates to cast my ‘X’ for in each of the 2 constituencies which I’m entitled to vote for

    I honestly cannot say : it’s become as stupid as the USA presidential election where I want to ask “isn’t there a sensible 3rd candidate ? ”

    Happy 9.9 to all

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