Thank you, Carrie Lam, for making a sham election fun

February 08, 2017 16:26
First the MTR turnstile, then some toilet rolls, and now a deluge of "angry" emoticons on her Facebook page: All of these have not helped boost Carrie Lam's tepid popularity. Photos: HKEJ, TVB, Facebook

Carrie Lam’s electioneering appears to have degenerated into a farce of common sense-defying gaffes.

First, the former No. 2 official fumbled as she took on the formidable challenge of using an Octopus card to get through a turnstile at an MTR station during her visit to Ap Lei Chau, a stunt meant to boost her tepid popularity.

Then she found herself embroiled in a midnight crisis when she couldn't figure out where to get a toilet roll in her new Wan Chai neighborhood and had to hail a taxi back to her previous official Peak residence to perform the necessary ablutions.

What’s even more amazing is that the embarrassing incident was revealed by none other than herself during a meeting with the press.

She laughed at herself and said she needed to adapt to a life without aides and nannies after resigning from the government to kick-start her chief executive election bid.

Lam and her spin doctors may think that such self-mockery will bring her closer to the people, but all the commotion stirred up by these incidents suggests otherwise.

As netizens have pointed out, Lam, with her prim and proper cheong sam, is simply out of touch with the real world.

Perhaps, in order to get her campaign back on track, Lam should sack all her PR consultants, step out of her air-conditioned suite and seek real advice from real people, especially the young.

But just as she is desperately trying to boost her popularity ratings, she has made another silly misstep: opening a Facebook page

Her grand debut on social media was immediately greeted by a tsunami of "angry" emoticons.

Lam must have found her initiation into the internet a fascinating experience. After uploading a video clip of her learning how to post photos on her page, she remarked that the process wasn’t as complicated as she had feared.

The video clip attracted some 36,000 “angry” faces as of Wednesday morning, while only 3,400 viewers hit the “like” button.

Observers are asking: How can Hong Kong, a city that aims to be a regional IT hub, be led by someone who even didn’t know until this week how to post photos or share a location on Facebook?

“Facebook had been around for about 10 years, and now you are telling us that you just started using it – kind of pathetic,” an EJ Insight reader sniffed.

This may be a serious handicap, as far as gaining popularity is concerned, as all the other chief executive contenders have long been using the online platform.

Former financial secretary John Tsang, easily the most popular among the election rivals, has accumulated 177,700 likes since he opened his page two years ago. He is followed by Regina Ip with 80,700 fans and retired judge Woo Kwok-hing with 37,200.

And, is Lam or anyone in her team aware that Facebook is now stuck in a “midlife crisis” while a growing number of youngsters embrace other more discreet, personalized services like Instagram, Snapchat and Medium, a social journalism app?

Some say Lam should have picked Twitter, the choice of many politicians to expand their reach among the people.

A day before Lam's Facebook debut, Beijing’s No. 3 cadre, Zhang Dejiang, who is chairman of the National People's Congress Standing Committee and head of the central government’s working committee on Hong Kong and Macau affairs, summoned the city’s business and political heavyweights to a closed-door meeting in Shenzhen.

Sources privy to the meeting said Zhang exhorted the pro-Beijing members of the Election Committee to pick the most deserving candidate in the March poll, after making no bones about his preference for Lam.

Indeed, the Beijing bosses have spoken.

And so with the nomination and election victory virtually in the bag, why would Lam still bother wooing Hong Kong people, especially the youth, whose opinions and preferences are of no consequence in the race?

It is probably because Zhang has assigned her some homework to do – to boost her own image in the run-up to the election day – when local stooges are expected to rubber stamp Beijing’s anointed one. 

But as we can see, Lam has been hard put in doing the assignment.

Winning people’s hearts never crossed her mind throughout her four-year stint as chief secretary in the Leung Chun-ying cabinet.

People still have vivid memory of her condescension and friend-or-foe style of governance, from the constitutional reform controversy to the recent Palace Museum fiasco, all are eerily reminiscent of the worst features of CY Leung's administration.

After all, what can we expect in a sham election in which our inputs don't really matter?

So why not sit back and enjoy the show as Lam and her rivals go through this travesty of an election?

The coming weeks leading to the March 26 polling day should be a lot of fun.

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Read more:

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Carrie Lam (center) poses with supporters in last week's campaign rally, described by observers as a gathering of the city's rich and powerful. Photo: HKEJ

EJ Insight writer