IAIN LAFFERTY: Universal Suffrage- The Musical!

Maybe it’s apocryphal: a sergeant-major trying to weed out the crazies among his troopers allegedly bellowed at them: “Fall out all of you who have seen the Sound of Music more than 10 times!”

I didn’t buy the tickets, but watching the recent Hong Kong production of “The Sound of Music” I was greatly impressed by Gaylord von Trapp’s courageous stand against the aggressive expansionism of the Third Reich. Although he ultimately fled across the Alps with his family – and who can blame him for that – he did initially try to combat the inevitable takeover of his country with song. Lamenting the loss of Austria’s political autonomy, the Captain’s moving performance of “Edelweiss” was both a farewell to the country of his birth and a bold political statement warning of the impending Anschluss. Or, as the lady sitting next to me pointed out, he might have been singing about his favourite weed.

As this familiar story of two countries, one victim, was unfolding on the stage of the HKAPA, a mere hundred metres away outside the LEGCO building, pro-democracy supporters were gathering in numbers prior to the vote on the Government’s electoral reform plan. Last year at the barricades, such assemblies occasionally prompted the singing of “Do you hear the people sing?” from the musical Les Miserables. However, youngsters have now apparently snubbed this practice. Not because of the obvious lack of similarity between the student protesters of 19th century Paris and 21st century Hong Kong, but because they smugly consider singing self-indulgent. This may be so. However, song has played an important role in every political movement from the Jacobean Rebellions to Gay Pride. The United States didn’t pull out of Vietnam because of some student protests that took almost a decade to materialise; it was because “Give Peace a Chance” was a damn catchy tune.

The subsequent fiasco of the reform package vote showed the Government and their allies to be not only incompetent but also corrupt, and they have since resorted to orchestrating bizarre set piece political scuffles in Mong Kok. This they achieve by hiring a large chorus of mainly elderly, pro-Beijing supporters to sing Communist songs at pro-democracy gatherings.

The Police are then brought in to arrest anyone under the age of twenty (often passing shoppers), and it all ends up like a Keystone Cops double bill on social media. The final embarrassment to the pro-democracy camp was the poorly attended march on the 1st of July, and given the dip in morale it is perhaps time that activists take a leaf out of Captain von Trapp’s insurgency textbook and indulge in a little melodic direct action.

No longer “Sixteen Going On Seventeen”, could the recently mugged, conspicuously courting, unadulterated adult Joshua Wong carry a tune in a bucket for the benefit of Scholarism? Co-founder of Occupy Central, the aged Reverend Chu Yiu-ming might possess the required dignity and religious authority to lead the singing of “Climb Every Mountain” on the grass outside the LEGCO building. However, would he even be able to make it to the chorus before a group of plain-clothes police officers drag him off to a dark corner of Tamar Park for a little light dusting up?  Leung Kwok-hung, AKA, Long Hair, the infamous LEGCO member for East Kowloon District, would be the ideal choice for the showstopper “The Hills Are Alive.” Video of him mincing across Ma On Shan summit followed by a posse of Social Democrats singing in close harmony, would surely be enough to have the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress quaking in their boots.

C.Y.Leung about to break into song: “These are a few of my favourite things…” How about something from the Goons: “Leung Chun Ying Tong Tiddle I Po Tiddle I Po Tiddle I Po…”

Through a variety of unchecked and unhinged spokespersons, the Government have repeatedly shown themselves to be out of touch with public opinion and with regard to Ms Ip, they clearly don’t know the answer to the question, “How do you solve a problem like Regina?” Like a drunk in a midnight choir, C Y Leung has the greatest potential of anyone to advance the cause of Democracy in Hong Kong with his unbridled talent for undermining his own credibility and the office of Chief Executive. No-one said this would be easy, but imagine him in the shower singing his version of “My Favourite Things”…

“Tear gas and triads and bleeding protesters, Secret cash payments from Mainland investors. Tyranny modelled on that of Beijing’s,

These are a few of my favourite things…..”

Well, I’d buy tickets!

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