Wednesday, August 18, 2010

He who bows lowest

A slight diversion from Mummy chat for a moment to explain a strange phenomenon occurring in Pokfulam (the suburb where we live). We are currently in the run up to a local election for a seat on the district council.

The seat was formerly occupied by Ronnie Chan (now gone to work as a government advisor). Ronnie started a new method of connecting with the electorate by standing with big banners at the junction of my apartment complex and the main road and waving all day. He was the only candidate we ever saw. Our apartment complex has around 1,000 apartments. The equivalent complex just below us about the same. So some clever election analyst figured out that dear Ronnie could capture around 4,000 voters by simply standing in one place all day. Ronnie won the election by a landslide.

This might sound a bit facile but there are few differences in policy platform between the parties. They tend to be either democrats (whose main angle is universal suffrage for HK, because we don't actually have it yet) or the pro-Beijing parties (who don't want it, or only in a form that could never challenge the mainland government). In reality all important decisions in HK are made up of a largely unelected bunch of people at a city-wide level, so the district council hasn't got much impact. Therefore, it is more like a school election popularity contest than a sensible election.

For this election we have two democrat candidates. I think the pro-Beijing ones have largely given up on our district, which is mainly expat and middle-class Chinese. Both candidates have adopted Ronnie's approach and placed themselves strategically at points to gain maximum awareness.

Initially I was impressed by Ellis. Not only does he stand there all day, but he adds a bow to every passing car. Not just any bow either, but full ninety degrees bend at the waist bow. He does this to every car. I was impressed and had decided that he would get my vote.

However, over time we have seen less of Ellis and he seems to have been replaced by supporters who just wave. I would rather see Ellis, it shows a sense of commitment, but at least if he is going to send a replacement then they should also adopt the bow.

Feeling somewhat let down, this morning I was on the bike on my way back from circuits to find our other candidate, Paul, setting up his own stand. This was 7am and he was doing it himself. Not just sending some student supporter to get his banners ready, but doing it himself. Ellis doesn't do that!

So now I find myself conflicted.

That said, I've not yet filled in the permanent residency forms so I am not actually entitled to vote. But that doesn't stop me taking this whole election process terribly seriously.

No comments: