23 October 2016
Actor Anthony Wong applies the "pocket it first" principle during the Film Awards Night, settling for the presentation of the best director award instead of being the show's master of ceremonies. Photo: TVB
Actor Anthony Wong applies the "pocket it first" principle during the Film Awards Night, settling for the presentation of the best director award instead of being the show's master of ceremonies. Photo: TVB

When ‘pocket it first’ becomes a mere gimmick

Every day we make hundreds of decisions, many of them related to the principle of “pocket it first”.

First question of the day: Would you cash out of the market? China allowed fund managers to short-sell and tightened margin financing but it also cut the banks’ reserve requirement ratio by 100 basis points. So would you “pocket it first”?

As you may know, the Hong Kong stock market is now driven more by political rather than economic news. You really need to figure out what Beijing has in mind before making your investment decisions.

This Wednesday will see a second version of the government’s plan for universal suffrage, which is very unlikely to see any improvement to the nomination process for chief executive candidates. Pressure is mounting for the pan-democrats if they should cater for what many people want, rather than resist the package.

Speaking at RTHK’s City Forum on Sunday, James Tien, the former Liberal Party chairman who has been consistent about being inconsistent in his political stance, advised Hong Kong people to “pocket it first” and keep asking for more, acknowledging the proposal on the table is not the best option.

He believes we could still press for system refinements in 2022, and taking whatever is offered now does not mean there will be no more changes later on.

However, pan-democrats showed no retreat, stating they would not accept anything less than true universal suffrage because a prospective candidate still needs over half of the votes from nomination committee to qualify for the race.

In an attempt to pressure the Legislative Council into approving its proposal, the SAR government will step up its citywide marketing efforts and ask the public to “pocket it first” by playing on greed and fear.

Fear was played up last month when a certain political heavyweight suggested that failure of the government to implement electoral reform for 2017 would upset Beijing, which will then support incumbent Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying for a second term.

Furthermore, the current framework was reportedly set by former Chinese leader Hu Jintao, not by President Xi Jinping, who may probably think his predecessor had given too much to Hong Kong, and hence there is no guarantee the second proposal will be better than the first one.

While these are very possible scenarios, pan-democrats hate both and find it hard to accept either one.

They are placed in a very difficult and awkward situation: Like a lady, should they wait for a Prince Charming to come, or should they content themselves with an ugly date?

Time is ticking. Should pan-democrats wait for the right bus? Or should they take whatever bus is available as long as they eventually get to their destination?

Leaders of the pro-democracy camp should have a deep understanding of their situation. “Pocket it first” is a complete betrayal of the Umbrella Movement and will cause a split or even collapse of the opposition camp. 

Meanwhile, vetoing the proposal does not mean that Beijing will then offer a real universal suffrage package for Hongkongers. With Beijing’s tough political stance, pro-democracy supporters will eventually lose hope or join the pro-independence camp in the long run.

While “pocket it first” remains a politically sensitive term, it’s also a source of creativity for many gimmick makers.

At the Hong Kong Film Awards last night, actor Anthony Wong said he had hoped he would get to read the best actor or actress winner or become the MC for the show, but he ended up settling for awarding the best director.

Using his own example of “pocket it first”, Wong almost cried out, “I want true democracy”, but stopped short of saying it. Instead, “I want true … MC” became his punchline.

This morning I also read a certain Singaporean bank is launching a personal loan offer which makes good use of the “pocket it first” idea to lure customers into cashing out their credit lines.

Whatever the trick, Hong Kong will soon go through the process, and realize that the essence of true democracy is freedom of choice.

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EJ Insight writer

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