Sunday, 4 September 2016

Hong Kong Votes and Obama's Apparent Snub

Taikoo Shing earlier this evening, where lots of people were waiting to vote
The polls for the Legislative Council election have technically closed as of two minutes ago (10.30pm), but there are still people out there queuing to vote. They will allow them to vote, but only those who were in line before 10.30pm.

It's pretty amazing to hear reports like this, that people have come out in droves and I hope this demonstrates to the Hong Kong government and to Beijing that we care about who we vote for and we don't want to lose this right to vote directly for people to represent us.

Last minute checks at the polling station on who to vote for
Apparently social workers were out in some elderly homes to make sure seniors weren't coerced into voting buses to cast their ballot for a certain candidate or party, though Apple Daily reported some elderly had numbers written on their hands of which candidates to vote for.

I voted this morning at 11am in Kennedy Town and there was no line-up. I gave them my poll card, but they didn't want it -- they just wanted my Hong Kong Identity card. Surely they should at least match the two together? And take the polling card to cross-check later just in case? I find this a very strange practice.

A friend, YTSL, had asked if there would only be names on the ballot or numbers. It turns out EVERYTHING is on the ballot -- the person's name in Chinese and English, their political party AND their picture. Surely you can't get your vote wrong so hopefully there won't be many spoiled ballots.

US President Barack Obama emerges from Air Force One
In the next several hours the votes will be counted at AsiaWorld Expo, and the results will be out in the wee hours of the morning.

It's pretty exciting to see so many people come out, though it's expected that those in their 60s and above probably voted pro-establishment, while those 50 and under voted pro-democratic, and probably those in their 20s for localists.

Another big story today was the arrival of American President Barack Obama in Hangzhou for the G20 summit and things didn't work out too well because he didn't come out onto the rolling staircase, but instead emerged from the belly of the plane, which is usually reserved for high security risk areas.

A White House aide and Chinese security official arguing
Then the New York Times reported a shouting match between a White House member of staff and a Chinese security official. When she pointed out this was not normal protocol, he could be heard clearly saying to her, "This is our country".

Also the media had trouble on the tarmac too. The Times reporter who said he had covered the White House for six years, and never had he seen a foreign host prevent media from watching a US president disembark.

Then at the West Lake State House, where Obama would meet Chinese President Xi Jinping, White House aids, protocol officers and secret service got into another shouting match about how many Americans would be allowed into the building before Obama's arrival. The reporter said there were fears things could escalate to a physical confrontation.

"Calm down please," an American official said, according to the pool report. A Chinese foreign ministry official said, "Stop please... there are reporters there."

However, a Hong Kong media outlet claims the "staircase snub" was not that at all, but that it was Washington's decision.

"China provides a rolling staircase for every arriving state leader, but the US side complained that the driver doesn't speak English and can't understand security instructions from the United States; so China proposed that we could assign a translator to sit beside the driver, but the US side turned down the proposal and insisted that they didn't need the staircase provided by the airport," the official was quoted as saying.

That reasoning is hard to believe -- what happens in every other foreign country that the US President arrives in?

It still seems like a deliberate snub at Obama to show him who's boss. He didn't make much of a fuss about it in front of the media, advising them not to "overcrank the significance".

But one can't help but wonder, the arrival of every other state leader in Hangzhou was fine...


  1. Re the Hong Kong election ballots: I'm moved to wonder whether there'd be less (chances of) rigged votes if there weren't numbers for those who otherwise have no clue to identify the candidates, only their names, pictures and party affliations...

  2. HI YTSL -- it's strange how some people's names were already crossed out before they got to the polling station... which is why I think it's important to cross check with that polling card! And to keep it instead of handing it back to the voter...