What the Charles Ho-Joshua Wong war of words tells us

April 05, 2016 16:55
Joshua Wong (L) has dismissed a challenge thrown at him by Charles Ho Tsu-kwok in relation to the purported economic cost of the 204 Occupy protests. Photos: HKEJ

Sometimes it is not easy to tell who is naïve and who is not – if we look at our university students and our senior citizens.

Yes, university students can at times seem like they are yet to get out of high school. With little or no work experience, they often live in a world far removed from reality. They want democracy, as well as housing, in double-quick time because they think they deserve it.

As for our senior citizens, we must admit that some of them don't show wisdom that befits their age. They get more impatient as get on in years, and often seem eager to teach the kids some lessons. They know the color of money; hence they feel that it is in Hong Kong's interests to listen to China.

But as in the "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button", old people can sometimes be more like kids as they age. Just as some kids never seem to grow up, some elderly behave like anything but adults.

Well, these are the thoughts that came to my mind following the war of words between Charles Ho Tsu-kwok, chairman of Sing Tao News Corporation, and Joshua Wong, the local university student who made it to the cover of Time Magazine during the Occupy Central protests.

Ho started the battle first.

In an interview aired on TVB Sunday, he called Wong "idiotic and stupid", arguing that the student leader fails to realize how the 2014 Umbrella Movement affected the city's business environment.

Wong struck back, saying that it is childish to attack people who hold different views. Deploying emotional rhetoric, without taking a broader view of things, doesn't sit well on a grown-up man, especially a media tycoon and public figure such as Ho, the young activist fumed.

Ho and Wong might not know each other personally, but it was certainly not the first time that the media boss had attacked the pro-democracy campaigner.

During an in-house awards ceremony, Ho had earlier made fun of Wong's academic achievements, contrasting them with those of Louisa Mak Ming-sze, the Cambridge graduate who won the Miss Hong Kong title.

The debate has now escalated into a challenge which saw Ho asking Wong to come to Causeway Bay or Tsim Sha Tsui so that the latter can "take out a calculator and count how many empty stores there are".

"If he is right, I will kneel down and bow and admit I am idiotic. If he is wrong, he should keep his mouth shut, bow three times to me and admit that he is stupid and idiotic," Ho said on the TVB program. 

Wong has dismissed Ho's challenge, suggesting that it would serve no purpose.

The attack, meanwhile, has put Ho firmly in the camp of other heavyweights who have attacked local youth for wanting real autonomy, or even independence from China, for Hong Kong.

Pro-China businessman and movie investor Peter Lam Kin-ngor said it is sad that this year's best movie accolade at the Hong Kong Film Awards went to "Ten Years", which has been accused of playing up fears that China will gain more control over Hong Kong in the next decade.

The charged political situation in the city means that pro-democracy campaigners will face more attacks from the establishment.

It is worth noting that Wong has accused even HSBC of exercising "political censorship", alleging that the bank rejected a bid from Wong and another Scholarism founder to open a joint account to take care of the finances of a planned new political party.

Wong asked for an explanation, only to be told that the rejection was due to administrative reasons.

HSBC has denied that political considerations played a part in its decision.

Netizens are floating various conspiracy theories, but people will ultimately draw their own conclusions -- depending on what they'd like to believe.

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EJ Insight writer