The Recorder and the King of the Punchline

Shirley Chan - Reporter, Apple Daily

[中文] [Jul 2012 - The Journalist] The talk among the journos is that if you want to be a government official, especially a high-level one, you have to be a “recorder”. And it is agreed by all the journos covering the government-political beats that Chief Secretary for Administration Stephan Lam is a “recorder” in the flesh. Still, he's no big deal when compared with Chief Executive-elect Leung Chun-ying who's simply an “advance model”.

A lot of dirt was thrown around during the contest for Hong Kong's top job. But throughout the campaign Leung insisted it was a “competition between gentlemen” and the candidates, supposedly, were merely required to display ability, vision and, of course, their platforms. But the whole world could see how “gentlemanly” they were. So much so that each tried to make less mistakes than the other guy.

One characteristic of the Chief Executive election was the
abundance ofscandals. (East Weekly Photo)
Although Leung attended lots of events during the campaign, were always slots set aside for interviews. But, of course, he only gave well-prepared answers. If the questions were “off topic” he would just swivel around and leave.

All the reporters on his election trail were agreed that all his answers to questions could be easily slotted away. On poverty and helping the poor, it invariably began with his schoolmates who could not sit for the Secondary School Entrance Examination and conclude with “people compare their problem of poverty every year and feel the situation is worsening.” When the talk comes round to education, there is the inevitable: “There are no natural resources in Hong Kong so we rely on talents...” and “education is an investment, not an expense...”” But, inevitably, he comes up against the unexpected. Then the expected replay is “I don't know. I don't remember. I don't understand.”

Talk about a dumb recorder...

Henry Tang ... king of the punchline. His answers were invariably creative.

But some phrases got repeated or mangled. Like: ”defend our core value, which is the core of the core value.” And that finale: “I lost the election because I did not have enough votes...”” No surprise then that his PR people were muttering darkly all through the campaign that Henry simply couldn't follow the script even if his eyes were glued to it. The desperate PR crew had to hang on to his shirt-tail to stop him talking when things went awry.

Talk about needing nannies.

There was the occasion when he to visit some fishermen. There was no provision for a meeting with reporters. Nevertheless, the reporters were there. And, inevitably, the first question rang out. Would you believe it? The nanny yelled out at the top of his voice: “”Henry, DON'T answer.” Henry didn't.

In the end many of Henry's supporters deserted him. The reason, as he, himself, put it was that “the basement was unintentionally dug too deep.”

And buried his ambitions forever?

On the other hand Leung's three “don'ts” have got him into the mansion where his father was once the gate-keeper.