Sunday, 19 March 2017

One More Verbal Joust Before Vote

Carrie Lam, John Tsang and Woo Kwok-hing try to sway voters one last time
The final chief executive debate was held this evening at AsiaWorld-Expo with some 400 people from the Election Committee attending. They were given the opportunity to directly pose questions to the three candidates -- Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, John Tsang Chun-wah and Woo Kwok-hing.

Interestingly their responses were timed so that in the end all three had the equal amount of time to speak.

I watched the debate on hk01's Facebook Live and whenever Lam was speaking, there was a flood of angry-faced icons flowing across the screen, which contrasted with Tsang, who had lots of happy faces, as well as Woo.

However, in the audience, Lam got a lot of applause from the mainly pro-Beijing camp.

Again Tsang came out swinging at Lam, using any opportunity he could to discredit her, or try to show that she was not as an effective leader as he was.

He said that you can work hard, but you have to work smart -- to which he got a lot of applause from the audience. He hinted that while she worked hard, she was probably taking on too much and insisting that things be done her way.

On the other hand Lam hit back saying she was envious of Tsang because when they were colleagues, his desk would always be clean with nothing on it, while hers had piles of files on it she had to go through.

Tsang also gave the example that he had a lot of support from former colleagues who volunteered their time to help his campaign and he was grateful for their support -- did Lam have anyone helping her?

She claimed that getting her former underlings to help would have been difficult for them as it would have caused divisions among them socially as they met for dinners. Is she trying to make this more political than it need be?

Woo chimed in that he did have support from his colleagues, but being in the legal circles, they were low key and didn't want to make their support public, which got a lot of laughs and applause.

Lam tried to show that she was active in visiting Hong Kong's various districts and hinted that Tsang didn't show up once, but he did as far back as December 2013, but that time he was pelted with an egg by a protester which might have turned him off from future visits...

She also said that she was invited to meet with ethnic minorities once -- but Woo countered by saying he had at three meetings with them -- so where was she the other two times? Touche!

At times it felt like Tsang and Woo were tag-teaming against Lam.

But in general Tsang had the upper hand overall because of his knowledge of policies, while Woo doesn't have that experience and could only speak from a legal perspective. He tried to discredit Lam by saying if she was a witness in a court case, she would not be a trustworthy one... but the court of law and the court of public opinion when it comes to politics are two different things.

We want our politicians to be honest, but we know they cannot do that 100 percent of the time. Woo took a dig at her, saying she would have to pay back her tycoon supporters somehow...

The vote will be held in a week and 7 million of us have no say, but just under 1,200 people do. This is not a fair election, but here we are again, five years later going through the motions again.

As Tsang said in his closing remarks, we thought we voted for the best person, but that turned out not to be the case (referring to his former boss, Leung Chun-ying). Tsang explained earlier that Lam is CY Leung 2.0 because she has similar policies and nothing new to add. The former financial secretary said it would not be good for Hong Kong to have someone like this again, and have to wait another five years for change.

What is Beijing going to do? Tsang definitely has the popular vote, while pro-establishment are told to vote for Lam. However, some critics believe Tsang won't create much change either, having been a seasoned civil servant for decades. And what about him saving up so much money in the reserves only to be spent on white elephant public works projects instead of allocating more resources to the people who need it most -- the poor, ethnic minorities, and first time home buyers who need an extra hand.

We'll have to see what happens next Sunday. Bickering among ourselves isn't going to get us anywhere either...

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