My District Council Candidates
November 18 is voting day for the Hong Kong district council elections. I live in the Kadoorie district (known technically as G07 Kadoorie) of Kowloon City. There are two candidates in this district:
(1) Chan King Wong (independent)
(2) Siu Leong Sing (Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood)
I have recently received their mailed campaign materials, which is mailed to all registered voters, and I will tell you about my reading.
Before I begin, let me cite the HKU POP poll on the Hong Kong District Council elections:
What is the main factor for your vote?
47%: past performance
What is the critical consideration for your vote?
84%: stand on livelihood issues
10%: political alignment
First problem to be tackled by the District Councilor?
39%: local district problems
So, what do I know about the two candidates before I opened the mailed materials? Here is the sum total of my knowledge about them:
Chan King Wong is the incumbent councilor. Basically, I used to know only that his banner is hung on the railing at the intersection of Prince Edward Road West and Kadoorie Avenue. Last week, Chan King Wong came around with a loudspeaker and told the residents of our building that he was notified of a sewer leak affecting us and several other apartments up Braga Circuit and he promptly worked to ensure that repair was made. That may or may not be true, but that was the first time that I have ever seen or heard Chan King Wong in person. I do not recall receiving any mail from him before.
Siu Leong Sing is a 23-year-old who is described as a "Community Organizer." I have never heard of him until his mailing piece came in.
Before I discuss the mailing pieces, let me first show you the candidates' biographies as provided to the Electoral Office, which routed the information together with the details about the polling date and location to me by mail.
Chan King Wong's slogans refer to using loving care to improve the community and creating a good living environment. Siu Leong Sing's slogans said: "Speaking for you: Striving for double universal suffrage in 2012" with the sub-title: "Fully supported by Audrey Eu, Alan Leong and Albert Ho."
Let us look at the mailing pieces of the two candidates. Siu Leong Sing's piece came in two parts, one is a four-page color brochure in Chinese and the other is two-page monochromatic brochure in English. Let me type some of what was written in English:
I persist in individual idea continuously, it has fulfilled my pledge. I have served in Kowloon City for several years: holding the regular meetings with residents, to hear problems and questions from the residents, and to follow up attentively. Being a Community Organizer, I think that it is very important to solve these problems.
Sing shows loving cares for inhabitants. He is very concerned for the inhabitants' needs. Besides, he always strives for the reasonable rights and interests of the inhabitants, the improvement of the people's livelihood. Simultaneously, Sing organizes and condenses the inhabitants' strength, works with concerted effort, and the improvement of the community.
Expectation on Hong Kong Democracy
Democracy means human rights, freedom, jurisdiction independency and uplifting the quality of life. People's participation in constitutional development is what we call "Democracy."
Hong Kong is a prosperous city but its policy is lack of people's participation and cannot cover all walks of life in society. Finally, it will hinder our economic growth and stability. In order to maintain a peaceful and enjoyable life, we cannot miss our democracy and economic prosperity.
Those people who are living below standard and are contributing towards the society silently cannot be neglected. Their weak voices are always covered by the autocrats. The only way to remedy this is to push one-man-one-vote to bring all these voices to the front and to fight for what they deserve. We are all together to fight for a full universal suffrage in 2012.
Name of Polling Station:
(1) Carties Community Centre - Kowloon (256A Prince Edward Road West, KLN)
(2) Worker 'sChildren Secondary School (14 Princess Margaret Road, Ho Man Tin)
The grammatical errors in his brochure are annoying, but nothing annoys me more than the typographic error on the polling location -- the place is Caritas Community Centre and not Carties Community Centre. How much does he know about this district if he doesn't know that?
Let us now look at the front covers of the two color brochures:
Chan King Wong's brochure emphasized his past service as the incumbent councilor and he uses vague niceties (the Hong Kong spirit, economic prosperity, social stability, open freedom, corruption-free, law-abiding, etc). Siu Leong Sing's brochure emphasized the support of certain big-name pan-democratic politicians. There are six photographs. In four of them, Siu is shaking hands with a Legislative Councilor. So does that mean that he couldn't get a photo op with Audrey Eu and Alan Leong?
If we go back to the HKU POP poll, the main factor is 'past performance.' The incumbent Chan King Wong can rattle off a list of accomplishments, whereas the challenger Siu Leong Sing cannot. That is why the challenger used endorsements instead. For me, this is a weakness, not strength. The challenger does this because he does not have the strength to stand on his own accomplishments.
Now let us look at the list of accomplishments of both candidates as listed inside the color brochures. First, Chan King Wong has an array of photographs that showed the before and after conditions in which he managed to solve local district problems. These issues relate to repairing cracks in the pavement and stairways, adding a pedestrian crosswalk at 65 Waterloo Road, adding a pedestrian overpass at Embankment Road over Boundary Street, the installation of benches on Knight Street, etc.
I have no way of telling whether all of the credit should go to Chan King Wong for these accomplishments. I checked with the local restaurant waitress about the 65 Waterloo Road pedestrian crosswalk and she said, "Wait! That crosswalk was there as long as I have lived here. How can this man claim that he made it happen?" As I said, I don't know ...
Next, here is Siu Leong Sing's list of accomplishments.
Joined the July 1st march each year to contribute my effort to gain democracy
Joined the long democratic march to gain double universal suffrage in 2012
Attended the June 4th candlelight assembly
Successfully improve the water seepage problems at Victory Avenue/Argyle Street
Successfully improve the odor problem from the Argyle Street transformer station
Successfully obtain the re-paving of Argyle Street and Prince Edward Road West with anti-skid steel sand
Successfully procured the E21A bus route
Fought for the timetable to build the new Shatin/Central line after the merger of the MTR and KCR
Opposed the high 9% price hike by KMB
Assist residents to deal with apartment water seepage problems
Successfully achieve the clean-up of unused advertising signs
Actively participating in building board meetings and providing advice
Fought to increase "fruit money" to senior citizen and to establish a universal pension plan
Fought to reduce management fees for pension plans
Demand the improvement for senior citizens to get outpatient clinic appointments
My general reaction is that this should be a no-contest election. An incumbent does not get ousted except for obvious poor performance and malfeasance. Since I (and most other residents) know little or nothing about what the incumbent has actually been doing (or failed to do), there is nothing to hold against him. As for the challenger, he does not have a record to run on. He needs to give me a reason to vote for him, and he hasn't.
Then there is the political angle. The HKU POP poll showed that the critical consideration is the stand on livelihood issues for 84% of the people and political alignment for 10% only. Chan Wing Wong makes it clear that he is an independent. On the last page of his brochure, he also states his political position: "Balanced guarantee for human rights and rule of law," "support the development of democratic universal suffrage" and "genuine implementation of one country, two systems." That's wishy-washy enough that it satisfies everyone and upsets nobody.
Meanwhile, Siu Leong Sing uses endorsement by heavy-weight pan-democratic politicians as his main asset and he says that he is speaking out for the weak voices that have been covered up by the autocrats. I wonder if he has studied the demographic characteristics of the Kadoorie constituency? This is one of the most affluent areas in Kowloon, with residents such as Andy Lau, Jackie Chen, Kelly Chan, Jimmy Lai, etc. This message is likely to be counter-productive for this constituency.
Now I will tell you that on November 18, I will go and vote for Chan King Wong. I don't necessarily like him, but my decision is based upon the information that I have (from the mailed brochures from both candidates and my personal contact (or lack of contact) with these candidates). My decision is cold and calculated. How could I do otherwise (other than no-show or casting a blank ballot)?