Date
25 July 2017
Joephy Chan Wing-yan (left) of the Federation of Trade Unions needs help from a campaign officer as she faces the media. Andy Cheng (right) is charming but lacks his own voice, Joseph Lam says. Photos: YouTube
Joephy Chan Wing-yan (left) of the Federation of Trade Unions needs help from a campaign officer as she faces the media. Andy Cheng (right) is charming but lacks his own voice, Joseph Lam says. Photos: YouTube

Independent, original thought is what Hong Kong needs

Since the district council elections, I have actually become busier, despite having expected to be able to relax a bit after our hectic campaign.

It is partly to do with my returning to full-time practice as a barrister, but also partly because somehow the media is even more interested in what I am going to do next.

I was always surprised by the attention I received since announcing my candidacy for district council. But to continue to be in the public limelight is something I truly did not expect. I feel honored.

Many commentaries on this election focused on what seemed to be the electorate’s cry for new blood. No doubt that is what many voters wished to have. But I think that is not ultimately what they wanted.

What they wanted, and what Hong Kong urgently needs, is new ideas. New thinking. 

This is conceptually different from mere new blood.

I recently got to know Joshua Wong Chi-fung. In our debate on an Apple Daily online program, I stated that I admired an article by him (I think it was in Ming Pao Daily), in which he said that we must avoid “old wine in a new bottle” — there is no point making superficial changes when the substance underneath is the same.

He made this point in reference to the first-timers who stood for district council seats in the election. He is totally right. Unless the new politicians can bring new ideas and modes of thinking, they will not be able to change Hong Kong. 

Worse, they could actually make Hong Kong go backward, since at least the senior guys have experience. This is why I felt disheartened when I saw a video in which the young lady who beat Frederick Fung Kin-kee had to be told what to say in front of the press during an interview.

In my appearance on the RTHK City Forum recently, I also met a newly elected 27-year-old district councilor, Andy Cheng Tat-hungHe is a most charming chap, with a quick mind and good looks. I have no doubt he will go far as a representative of the pan-democratic camp.

However, I could not help but think some of what he said was not entirely his own thinking.

He sounded somewhat clichéd, as if he had lost his own voice.

This is why ever since the election, I have increasingly realised the importance of developing myself and my take on the pressing issues of the day, be they general or specific to Hong Kong.

Contrary to what some papers claimed, I have not become a core part of Path of Democracy (民主思路), the think tank founded by Ronny Tong Ka-wah, whom I greatly admire, both as a lawyer and a politician.

Having said that, we have been in contact and had preliminary discussions.

Furthermore, we agree on the ethos of developing rational and substantial arguments on political issues independently, and then promoting our thinking to a wider audience.

Perhaps this is not the easiest way to win votes in an election.

But in today’s Hong Kong, it is what we desperately need — independent and original thought – and not populist opinions, however appealing they may appear to be.

– Contact us at [email protected]

JL/JP/FL

Barrister and member of Path of Democracy

EJI Weekly Newsletter

Please click here to unsubscribe