Wednesday, January 07, 2015

The Election Episode 7 Recap

Two-thirds of Hong Kong's land is part of the New Territories, which naturally turns the indigenous inhabitants living there into big landlords. Their influence have affected Hong Kong's politics since the Handover. In 2012, a triad-affiliated dinner almost forced a Chief Executive candidate to step down.

Cheung Kwai Lung's (Gregory Wong) case is effectively over with the alleged victim Tse Mei Mei disappearing to Malaysia. Upon hearing this news, Song Man San (Liu Kai-chi) instructs his assistant to ensure two things - that Yip Ching's poll numbers do not rebound and that she does not secure any more nomination ballots.

Yip Ching's team sums up the number of nomination ballots that they have so far. Originally, they had reached the magic 600 number, however, 17 nominators have now decided to pull their support after Cheung's case. Since the remaining nominators are affiliated with either the DNRA or the DALP, the only chance they have left is the Heung Yee Kuk. Yip Ching notes that the Heung Yee Kuk have always supported the DNRA, but Cheung says that they may be able to persuade them by offering to revoke a law that abolished the Small House Policy.

The Heung Kee Kuk is the constituency representing the rural inhabitants in the New Territories. The Small House Policy, known colloquially as "Ding Kuen" (丁權), grants indigenous male villagers the right to build one small house over his lifetime. It was meant to improve the poor housing standards in rural areas, but has been increasingly under criticism due to the inadequate housing supply in Hong Kong.   

At the Heung Yee Kuk, Yip Ching is greeted by the vice-chairman Sing Chi-Keung (Peter Lai) and informed that the chairman is meeting with an old friend. Just then, Song steps out from the chairman's office. He delightedly tells Sing that he has spoken to the chairman about reinstating the Small House Policy. Knowing that there is no point in meeting with the chairman anymore, Yip Ching is just about to leave when Sing invites her to lunch and says that he can give her 22 nomination ballots.

At lunch, Sing complains that he does not have any power as vice-chairman. He wants to challenge the chairman by supporting Yip Ching. He introduces her to a man named Leung Yat Hong (Wong Man Piu), who can connect her with the 22 nominators. Leung invites Yip Ching to go to his real estate agency after lunch so that they can discuss further.


Meanwhile, at the DALP office, Ho Chun Pak (Samuel Kwok) gives Fong Kai Chiu (Alan Luk) a gift for his wedding anniversary. He asks Fong to drop out of the DALP's internal elections and endorse him instead, but Fong declines. Ho shrugs it off and says that perhaps he might change his mind tomorrow. Back in his own office, Fong is furious after seeing the USB that was inside the gift. His assistant, Kelvin (Oscar Chan), comes in with the latest poll numbers that show Fong only trailing Ho by 1%. However, Fong tells him to issue a memo announcing his withdrawal from the internal election. When Kelvin asks why, he points to the video clip on the USB, which show them hugging and kissing.

The next morning, Yip Ching's meeting with Leung is reported in the news. Leung is discovered to have triad affiliations, sparking allegations of "black gold" politics. Yip Ching issues a statement denying that she knew about Leung's background and says that she even paid Sing back for the meal.

"Black gold" politics is a term borrowed from Taiwan to refer to politicians associating with gangsters and obtaining illegal contributions. In 2012, key members of CY Leung's campaign team were photographed having dinner with members of the Heung Yee Kuk and an ex-triad leader nicknamed "Shanghai Boy". CY Leung's camp admitted that they met with Heung Yee Kuk members to discuss rural issues concerning them, but denied inviting Shanghai Boy or knowing about his background. They also claimed that they each paid $500 for the dinner to avoid contravening election rules. Another candidate, Henry Tang, was brought into the scandal when Shanghai Boy claimed in an interview that they had vacationed together. Henry Tang filed a police report, saying that he felt "threatened".

A suspicious van crashes into the HKMG headquarters. The media quickly draw links between this incident and the earlier reports about the triad-affiliated dinner. Leung makes things worse by appearing in an interview where he asserts his relationship with Yip Ching.

Poon Tsz Wan (Eunice Ho) reveals her findings about Wai Man Hin to Yip Ching. There is evidence which strongly suggests that businessman Cheuk Tin Fan (Felix Lok) had paid Wai in exchange for Wai's support of a land-use amendment that would allow Cheuk's corporation to build houses on their land. Yip Ching remarks that this information just might turn out to be advantageous at this time.

Yip Ching meets with Cheuk. He admits that Wai had helped him with the land-use amendment, but Wai's real intent was because it would provide more housing for Hong Kong citizens. Yip Ching returns the money that Wai had kept in his safety deposit box, meaning that Cheuk still owes her a favour. She wants him to give her his nomination ballot since having the wealthiest man in Hong Kong stand on her side would break the rumours that she was desperate enough to associate with the triads. However, Cheuk tells her that he is not free to make a choice and can only give his ballot to Song.


Meanwhile, Cheung goes to see Leung. He tries to convince Leung that Song is not trustworthy and offers double the amount that Song is paying them. However, Leung discovers that he is trying to tape record their conversation. He drags him to the rooftop and tells him to jump off the building. Cheung hesitantly sits on the ledge until Leung pulls him back at the last moment.

Cheuk indirectly lends his support to Yip Ching by naming her to the board of directors for his new charity fund. When asked, he states that he believes she is an honest and trustworthy individual with a desire to do good for society. He adds that if she was really involved with any of the alleged incidents, the police would have taken action already. After watching the press conference, Song thinks quietly for moment, then calls his wife, Lee Tsz Kwan (Mimi Kung) to tell her to come home early for dinner.

That night, when Lee arrives home, Song and his assistant are already waiting for her. As she goes to the kitchen to cook dinner, Song calmly pulls out a hammer from his briefcase, taking care not to leave any fingerprints on it. He walks out to the garden and smashes the window from the outside. Hearing the noise, Lee rushes out from the kitchen. She is shocked to see Song hand the hammer to his assistant, who takes it and clobbers Song's arm.

At the hospital, Song tells the police that he had been attacked in his home by an unknown man. At Song's silent urging, Lee reluctantly adds that the attacker warned Song to drop out of the election.

The police invite Yip Ching to the station to aid their investigation. She knows that unless she can find evidence to prove her innocence, her name will continue to be linked to the triads. She asks her publicist to prepare a statement declaring her withdrawal from the election. Cheung calls her and pleads with her not to give up, but she hangs up on him.


Yip Ching walks out into the media scrum outside and gives her speech:
Since the Handover in 1997, Hong Kong has had to wait 20 years to have only a limited democratic election. For me and many Hong Kongers, this democratic dream was not easily achieved. I believe most people will have a high standard for Chief Executive candidates. Even if they are not supremely talented, at the very least, they must be honest and trustworthy. I have always tried to do my best, but the events in the last few days have caused many citizens to be suspicious and disappointed in me. I believe I must be responsible to the citizens of Hong Kong. Ten minutes ago, I made a decision. This is the withdrawal statement that my colleague had just drafted.
She holds up the statement, then dramatically rips it up in front of the cameras before continuing:
But now, I have changed my mind. I will join the election. No matter how many slanderous reports there are, I must continue on. My father, Councillor Yip Ming Sum, indirectly died because of his campaign against the triads. If I withdraw, will I be able to face him? My campaign team all quit their high-paying jobs to support me. If I withdraw, is that being responsible to them? And the nominators who trusted me to give me their nomination ballots, if I withdraw, how can I answer to them? Starting from now, I will do two things: fully cooperate with the police investigation to prove my innocence and work hard on my election campaign to gain the support of citizens. Finally, I want to say one thing to my opponent: No matter how many dirty tricks you use, you will not be able to pull me from the election stage. Only the citizens' votes can determine my political life. 
Behind the crowd, Cheung stands there, looking on approvingly.

Five days later, the police confirm that there is no evidence linking Yip Ching to Song's assault. Half a month before the registration deadline, Yip Ching announces that she has joined the DALP and will represent the youth faction to compete against Ho Chun Pak in the internal election.

Election countdown: 69 days

3 comments:

  1. Wow…I don’t know how you do it, miriamfanz!  Your recaps are so detailed and well-researched – definitely helps me understand each episode better, especially since I’m not into politics at all so some of the stuff just goes right past me.  Thanks again for putting in the effort!

    By the way – is it just me or do you also feel that the episodes aren’t coming out fast enough?  I almost have to re-watch part of the previous week’s episode every Saturday so I can remember where the prior episode left off.  I understand HKTV’s reason for doing this series weekly and not really complaining per se, but argh, it’s torture having to wait a week for each episode (especially with a series as good as this one).  To be honest, this was one of the things I always hated about American series – the once a week thing and having to wait to wait so long to watch the next episode….

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    1. Thanks for all your comments. It's one of the things that makes me want to continue doing these. I actually quite like the way they have it right now, with one series airing daily and one series airing weekly. It's less overwhelming to follow everything, especially since I'm still following TVB series too.

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  2. Hi Miriamfanz great effort your recaps of election are really helpful to understand the rest of the episodes more for the person not related to politics. Thanks for sharing this and keep sharing.

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