The uphill battle for public opinion

Another day, another distressingly feeble attempt to push public opinion in favour of Hong Kong’s proposed political reform package. Executive Council member Fanny Law names two pro-democracy legislators as individuals who could possibly be allowed on the ballot. Click to hear REM’s ‘Pretty Persuasion’!The Civic Party’s Ronnie Tong and Dennis Kwok, she suggests, count as ‘good doggies’, who deserve a pat on the head. The contrast is with the ‘bad doggies’ (they know who they are), who openly deny the Chinese Communist Party’s legitimacy and therefore fail what is basically a latter-day religious test. (Though possibly one less restrictive than that of US Republican Party nomination race, where rejection of astrophysics and biology is required.)

The government is hoping that at some point popular approval for the package could be high enough to shame at least some pro-dems into voting for it. No-one knows what level of support that would be. However, opinion polls so far show the public to be seriously unimpressed, with less than 50% supporting the proposal. This miserable result confirms the obvious fact that Beijing’s heavy-handed tactics last year – berating Hong Kong and imposing a reform proposal with a superfluously rigged voting structure – backfired. It’s a bit late now, not to say unconvincing, to be trying to get chummy with supposedly ‘moderate’ pan-dems. Ronnie calls it an insult.

The South China Morning Post does a full-page thing on pan-dem ‘moderates’. It finds that they show no signs of wavering and voting for the package; in other words, they are just the same as all the pan-dems in the legislature who are not called ‘moderates’.

These three lawmakers are independents and represent functional constituencies. Charles Mok of IT points out that people with higher educational attainment (his coder nerd voters) are more likely than the average population to oppose the reform deal. Ouch. Kenneth Leung’s Accountancy franchise includes some patriots and dullards as well as dems, and officials are trying to rustle up an internal bean-counters’ poll to pressure him into abandoning his original pro-dem stance – but he seems defiant. Joseph Lee of Health Services could also only support the package by breaking earlier promises made to his constituency of (broadly dem-leaning) nurses and hospital pharmacists and technicians.

These are the lawmakers the government sees as its best hopes.

Officials are no doubt planning a brain-storming session. The subject: How can we get the public opinion polls to show at least 60% in favour of the reform package? Basic rules: no open-top buses, no grinning cartoon characters, and no talking to ‘moderates’ as if they are toddlers being asked to eat greens. Secondary rules: no relying on fake signature campaigns or putrid TV ad campaigns. Oh, and fundamental basic rules: no concessions on blatant rigging of nomination of candidates, and no going back on the Hong Kong Must Be Bludgeoned Into Submission ethos of our masters. Good luck.

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14 Responses to The uphill battle for public opinion

  1. Boris Badanov says:

    End the need for a whole electoral franchise vote to choose between idiot tycoon A, DAB member B and egotistical Paulean post handover CCP convert C. Just have an octopus chose the winner or a bingo machine. The former worked for those betting on the World Cup some years back and the latter is beloved of the elderly worldwide. They can’t be any worse than what’s proposed and would put us all out of our misery. The winner’s mandate would be just as real, or not.

  2. PD says:

    The CP and its local lap-dogs have only their own arrogance and hubris to blame for the current impasse. If they had allowed, say, 4 or 5 CE candidates, a 30-40% stooge threshold, a slightly less insulting “reform” package under the Duck, or kept Ryvita/Fanny/Vagina a little bit less in your face, they could possibly have swung it by the skin of their teeth, thanks to all the gerrymandering and rotten boroughs.

    Having said that, they’re bound to be offering fabulous bribes and jobs to the famous five, so it’s not in the bag yet. And if a couple of pan-dems fell in front of a bus…

  3. reductio says:


    Yes, where is Paul when you need him? (That’s Paul the Octopus not Paul Chan, although looking at today’s revelations in the SCMP it would be easy to confuse the two: both are slippery, slimy bottom dwellers).

  4. Scotty Dotty says:


    Q: What’s the definition of a moderate Muslim?
    A: A Muslim who’s run out of ammunition.

    Which means:

    Q: What’s the definition of a moderate pan-dem?
    A: A pan-dem who’s run out of arguments.

    *boom boom*

  5. PCC says:

    Civil rights lawyer: “Sheriff, why was the suspect shot 87 times?”

    Sheriff: “Because we ran out of bullets.”

  6. Stephen says:

    Does the NPC 31/8 decision dictate that the nominating committee had to remain as 1,200 worthies in 4 broad sectors, same sub sectors and be elected by the same 200K + corporate and establishment voters? If there was (some) room to change it (exclude corporate voters, delete sunset industries like fisheries) why did the HKSARG choose not to do so? Forget public nomination (never going to happen) concentrate on changing this as the best chance of getting a Pro-Dem on the ballot. If, as I certainly hope, it does get vetoed and horse-trading is to be done this is where I would target.

  7. Stinkyfoot says:

    Dogs, good or bad (not running), end up at the table. Very weird comment by Fanny Law. What needs to be conveyed to our beloved public is a sense that we understand how the rules have been changed since the Sino-British agreement, and how far this current regime in China is deviating from that understanding. It is clear from newly released documentary evidence that Deng and Thatcher agreed on future electoral reforms and that ‘Xianggang ren zhi gang’ was to be the way forward.

  8. Cassowary says:

    Getting rid of the corporate voters would make a difference in a lot of the sectors. Forget finance, they’re hopeless. But if catering were opened up to anybody holding a valid food and beverage license, and retail to anybody who can demonstrate ownership of a company with a zoning-compliant retail address, there could be potentially hundreds of thousands of subsector voters. Give transport to all MTR employees and anybody with a valid commercial driver’s license. But it’s too similar to what Patten did in the 90s, and will never be allowed.

  9. LRE says:

    “I believe such Pan-Democrats would have the chance to become Chief Executive candidates in future.”

    As the great social philosopher Wayne Campbell once put it: “It might happen. Yeah, and monkeys might fly out of my butt.”

  10. Peter says:

    “Does the NPC 31/8 decision dictate that the nominating committee had to remain as 1,200 worthies in 4 broad sectors, same sub sectors and be elected by the same 200K + corporate and establishment voters”

    No. The electoral base and make up of the Nominating Committee will be handled by future local legislation if the political reform proposal passes. But the government gave strong hints that it’s not changing the make up of the electoral base.

  11. @Cassowary – the Catering subsector is a perfect example of what’s wrong with the Functional Constituency system, and the (S)Election Committee subsector broadly follows the same philosophy – tycoons only. “Catering” in this context actually means “Restaurant Owners”, not the thousands of waiters and dishwashers who work in those restaurants. If Tommy Cheung depended on these ordinary folks for his LegCo seat, would he still be opposing every increase in the minimum wage?

  12. adam says:

    “Does the NPC 31/8 decision dictate that the nominating committee had to remain as 1,200 worthies in 4 broad sectors, same sub sectors and be elected by the same 200K + corporate and establishment voters? ”

    My understanding is that the decision stated the nominating committee must be 1200 in size and divided into the same 4 broad sectors. However, beyond that there is room to change the election procedures and modify the sub-sectors.

    “If there was (some) room to change it (exclude corporate voters, delete sunset industries like fisheries) why did the HKSARG choose not to do so?”

    The government repeatedly said they did not want to make any changes to the sub-sectors or the election method because there was “no consensus” and they needed support from the existing sub-sectors to make any change. This was complete non-sense because the only people who the government needed to get support from were the pan-democrats. The Liberal party lectured everyone it was impossible to change the selection method of the NC at the same time as introducing 1 man 1 vote, because that went against “gradual and orderly progress”.

    For their part the pan-democrats refused to take part in the second round consultation, which made it even easier for the government to make not change, although to be honest this was pretty much a foregone conclusion.

    The last opportunity to have the NC formation properly debated in public was the HKFS talks with the government, but HKFS opted not to continue them. BJ prefers to cut last minute deals behind closed doors, rather than have the public really consider how the NC is formed.

    Cassowary – I don’t think Finance is necessary helpless. If every bank employee, or even just every bank employee having a university degree, was allowed to vote it would make a huge difference. For Financial Services, every CFA could vote and every licensed insurance broker in Insurance etc.

    I thought Catering was already open to anyone with a valid food and beverage license though. They always have tended towards being pro-government and any opposition candidates or canvassers are possibly put off by concern over their licenses being renewed or frequent police visits and license checks during peak business hours.

    Regarding making the nomination committee more democratic, it is worth noting that a recent SCMP article on the death of Lu Ping, stated Chris Patten’s electoral reforms ‘violated’ the Basic Law. Actually Chris Patten’s reforms, which opened up FCs to millions of voters, were within the allowed parameters of Basic Law, they just went against the spirit of it. In the same way the 8/31 decision is within, but goes against the spirit of the Basic Law by making a mockery of “universal suffrage”.

  13. Cassowary says:

    I think the catering sector is even worse than that. I’ll have tomcheck but I did look it up once and it’s not just anyone with a valid food license, but restaurant owners with membership in a list of specific and opaque restauranteur’s associations.

  14. Cassowary says:

    Never mind, you’re right. It is all food license holders. I got them mixed up with retail, where it is only companies with membership in certain associations which can set their own entry requirements however they like.

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