Thursday, September 17, 2009

False Awakenings

By Chip Tsao | published Sep 17, 2009

C.Y. Leung, Henry Tang, or John Tsang? How do these names make you feel? Do they arouse a yearning for a better future for Hong Kong? Do they turn you on politically?

These are the candidates for Hong Kong’s next chief executive. C.Y. Leung is fighting bitterly to clear his name after accusations surfaced that he is a clandestine Communist Party member. Henry Tang, a red wine connoisseur and an ana-chronistic Shanghai dandy, reveals little content in his eternal smirk. John Tsang, an MIT graduate and an amateurish fencer, sounds a bit more exciting, but his anti-charismatic moustache is rumored to be detested by Beijing because it looks too un-Chinese, although a spinster friend of mine who has never traveled abroad insists that the guy looks cute and puckish, and wonders whether he would kiss like Omar Sharif in bed.

The common problem with this trio is that they simply look too predictable and repetitive.

Recall a scene in the horror movie “An American Werewolf in London.” Lucy was having the most frightening nightmare. She was dreaming that wolf-like monsters have burst through the windows in her bedroom and started to tear her apart.

Then she awoke screaming, sweating and breathing heavily. She looked around her bedroom just to be sure, and let out a sigh of relief that it had all been a dream. Then, with a heart-stopping crash, lycanthropes burst through her window and attacked her, just as in her dream. The terror looked so real, because she remembered the nightmare she had just endured.

Then she awoke again, sweating more heavily, breathing faster. This was bizarre. It was a dream within a dream. The first time she had apparently woken up she was in fact still in her dream. Lucy looked around her room again. The windows were intact. It was quiet and peaceful. There were no monsters. But she shivered—how could she be sure she had really woken up this time?

This is what psychologists call a “false awakening.” When Tung Chee-wah was first elected in 1996, with his surrealistic blueprint to build Hong Kong into the hi-tech port of China, we thought the future would be brilliant. Tung was swept away by the economic recession and half a million demonstrators in the streets. Then we had the whistle-blowing Donald Tsang replacing the failed shipping tycoon, who promised he would safeguard Hong Kong’s values. Now Tsang’s credibility is in tatters after the global credit crunch.

People don’t trust Leung because of his alleged communist party membership; we all remember 1949. As for Henry, the surname Tang sounds very close to Tung, thus the tang of nightmares lingers in the air, especially while we’re still a bit allergic to Shanghai Tang. And the man with the moustache? Simply not another Tsang again.

How could Lucy be sure she had woken up this time? We all wait, pissed off, for time to tell.

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