Much Ado About Nothing

I’ve been trying to refrain from commenting on Hong Kong’s political scene, not least because I have been since an early age under the influence of my French teacher who believed that “politics is the opium of the mind”. Of course, another reason is that I know too little about, let alone understand, Hong Kong politics to be qualified to write anything about it.

It just strikes me as odd that Hong Kong seems to have an extraordinary cult of worshipping senior administrators, or at least admiring their capability almost to the point of adoration. This fact is borne out by Donald Tsang constantly getting high popularity ratings soon after his “election” (although they have been steadily dropping ever since).

Now once again, Hong Kong people are getting all excited about the imminent face-off between two former senior civil servants, Anson Chan and Regina Ip, in the contest for the legislative council seat left vacant by Ma Lik.

My question is: why do people fuss over two former administrators? No matter which of the two ultimately wins, neither one is going to change things for Hong Kong people. Haven’t Hong Kongers had enough of the stuffiness, inherent snobbishness, the lack of imagination, inside-the-box thinking and overall inflexible, follow-orders working style of these typical obedient subordinates of the former British masters, who used to care more about their own public office career with all the attendant perks than about the real-life hardships of the ordinary people on the streets? Can they really be expected to change their mindset overnight, notwithstanding their attempts to shake off their old aloof, patronizing image by taking to the streets and making apologetic speeches? They may have administrative experience on their side, but leadership qualities, a sense of right and wrong, compassion and empathy are far more important attributes for a truly effective politician.

Without the presence of the British as driving instructors, I have strong doubts about senior civil servants in Hong Kong being naturally better choices as politicians than any reasonably well-educated, well-intentioned professionals (especially the self-made ones) from the private sector, as appears to be the popular belief. At least with the latter, there might be a chance for a breath of fresh air in the present stale political climate.