Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Election Episode 9 Recap

The 2022 election campaign loosened its advertising rules and allowed candidates to run television ads. Hence, television has become an important channel of communication between candidates and voters.

Song Man San (Liu Kai-chi) is filming an ad for his campaign with his wife Lee Tsz Kwan (Mimi Kung). In the middle of filming, he suddenly feels unwell and goes back to his van to rest. He vomits and discovers that he is losing his hair.

Reporters ask Yip Ching (Angelica Lee) for her thoughts about Song's massive television campaign. She professes admiration for her opponent's huge budget and says that she can probably only afford to rent a bus and speak to citizens one-on-one. Ho Chun Pak (Samuel Kwok) shows up at her campaign site and is asked how he feels about losing to her in the internal election. He answers that he will fully support her election campaign.

However, his tune completely changes once they are away from cameras. He tells her that he wishes to see her lose and will instruct all party members to reject any of her requests. Yip Ching tries to reason with him that if she wins the election, he would yield incredible influence as leader of the ruling party. But she warns that if she loses, she will push Fong Kai Chiu to be the new leader of the DALP.

During one of Yip Ching's radio interviews, a man calls in and berates her for using "justice" as her campaign slogan when she is just another self-interested politician. The call gets cut off, but Yip Ching can't shake the feeling that the voice sounds familiar.

Song is surprised to see his wife smoking when he arrives home. Lee confronts him about his brain tumour, which she found out about after testing one of his pills. He instantly erupts into a rage and demands to know whether anyone else knows about his illness. She is clearly intimated as he screams that nothing can stop him from continuing in this election.

Ho is personally greeted by Sum Suet Lai (Violet Li) at the HKMG headquarters. She takes him to see a "friend", who turns out to be Song. Song wants to work together with Ho to bring down Yip Ching. He promises to appoint Ho to an important portfolio if he becomes Chief Executive. Their first plan of action is for Ho to quit the DALP along with core members of the party.

Meanwhile, Yip Ching is campaigning on the streets. Cheung Kwai Lung (Gregory Wong) receives an anonymous text message telling him about Song and Ho's secret pact. Suddenly, a bottle of acidic substance is thrown from the building above. Yip Ching immediately tends to the volunteers, while Cheung rushes up the stairs to catch the perpetrator. The attacker kicks him away and runs out onto the street. He is chased by a police officer, whom he knocks out and steals his gun.

Lee opts to stay at her office late at night instead of going home. She is upset that her husband is only focused on the election and nothing else. C.K. So (Shek Sau) comforts her before suggesting that they go out for dinner. In the car, C.K. leans in to help her with her seat belt, then kisses her. They continue making out while Song watches from a distance.

Song goes to see Gei Man Wai (Isabel Chan). He entices her to have sex with him by offering to give her an "explosive" story about the DALP. She happily obliges.

Ho holds a meeting with a group of DALP members, where he badmouths Yip Ching in front of them. He proposes that they all quit the DALP and form a new party together. Everyone agrees to consider the idea for a few days.

The perpetrator of the acid attacks rips one of Yip Ching's posters on the street and is noticed by two police officers. He runs into a building with about a dozen people and pulls out a gun on them. One hostage manages to escape and alerts the cops. The suspect is identified as a former police officer, Lee King Shun (Wu Kwing Lung). He demands to see Yip Ching...

Election countdown: 50 days

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Election Episode 8 Recap

"There are no morals in politics; there is only expedience." - Vladimir Lenin

Yip Ching (Angelica Lee) walks into the DALP office with Fong Kai Chiu (Alan Luk) and her campaign team. Ho Chun Pak (Samuel Kwok) gives her a warm welcome and expresses his hope that the internal election will be a friendly competition with no hard feelings in the end. However, discontent is written all over his face as he turns away.

Both sides prepare for the internal election in 10 days. Ho instructs his team to call every single party member and offer whatever money or favours it takes to get their vote. In another room, Fong analyzes the situation for Yip Ching. With 1,334 party members, they require at least 600+ votes to win. The youth faction can control about 200 votes, while Fong's wife, Mary (Anita Kwan), can influence the women's vote. Cheung Kwai Lung (Gregory Wong) takes Fong aside to tell him that the best way to defeat Ho is to find scandalous material. Meanwhile, an aide delivers a package to Mary.

The DNRA members are discussing a vote-buying scheme. They have contacted immigration centres and senior homes who can provide voters for a fee. However, Song Man San (Liu Kai-chi) is not happy with the numbers. He shouts that he needs 100,000 votes to ensure victory, not a couple thousand. He excuses himself from the meeting when his vision suddenly starts to blur. He staggers to the washroom and is soon staring at a sink full of blood from his nosebleed.

Later that night, Cheung quietly observes Fong hugging his assistant, Kelvin (Oscar Chan). On the ride home, Mary confronts Fong about the pictures of him and Kelvin that were given to her in the package. Fong agrees to a divorce, but pleads with her to continue to support Yip Ching.

Song meets secretly with his doctor to see the results of a CT scan he had done earlier. The scan shows that he has a brain tumour. The doctor advises him to immediately undergo surgery, but Song refuses and asks to be treated with medication for the time being.

The next day, Fong briefs Yip Ching before a meeting with the women's associations. Cheung senses that something is wrong. Later, he casually asks Fong about his wife and receives an awkward response. Cheung warns Yip Ching that they cannot trust Mary anymore because of her martial problems with Fong, but Yip Ching dismisses this as silliness.

In the meeting, Mary starts by saying that the ideal candidate should have good policies, qualities and foresight to lead the DALP. She is unexpectedly cut off by Yip Ching before she can name the candidate that best fit these criteria. Yip Ching goes on to give her own speech, outlining her philosophy and urging the party to unite together to win the election. Cheung waits anxiously outside for the meeting to finish. When Yip Ching comes out, she tells him that she ultimately heeded to his advice because she noticed that Mary had taken off her wedding ring.

Poon Tsz Wan (Eunice Ho) learns about the DNRA's vote-buying scheme from a source. Before each of the last few elections, a DNRA member would visit the senior home's boss. Afterwards, the senior home would receive donations from various sources. On election day, buses would arrive at the senior home to bring seniors to the polling stations and the seniors' hands would be stamped to remind them which candidate to vote for.

Poon is summoned to see Sum Suet Lai (Violet Li), who orders her to drop the story immediately. Poon staunchly refuses and is fired on the spot. She decides to release her story through the Internet.

Kelvin is called into Ho's office. It turns out that Ho had deliberately placed Kelvin near Fong to seduce him. Now he wants Kelvin to accuse Fong of sexual misconduct in front of everyone during the internal debate session. Kelvin appears reluctant, as he has developed a real relationship with Fong.

Cheung comes up with an idea to defeat Ho. He wants to paint Ho as an unsuitable candidate for Chief Executive by exposing the low-hand tactics that Ho uses to blackmail his own party members. However, this meant that they would have to reveal Fong's relationship with Kelvin. Yip Ching opposes this idea, but Fong is willing to take the plunge to help her win.

That night, Yip Ching receives a phone call from Kelvin. He makes her promise that she will defeat Ho and protect Fong. Shortly afterwards, Ho discovers that Kelvin has committed suicide at the DALP office.

One of the DNRA members is investigated by the ICAC for the vote-buying allegations. Song convinces him to turn himself in and admit that he had acted alone on the scheme, without any approval from the party or Song. The next day, Song puts on a show in front of the media, publicly expressing his disappointment in the actions of individual party members and promising to conduct a full internal review of the party's ethical standards.

Yip Ching and Ho are all set to go against each other in the internal debate. Ho unreservingly attacks Yip Ching, blaming her for Kelvin's suicide and questioning her motives for joining the DALP. She deftly rebuts against his criticisms and delivers her message of bringing renewal to the party. The two candidates continue with the heated debate...

The caption states that Yip Ching won the internal election with 775 votes versus Ho's 448 votes. Five days later, she formally submits her application forms with 633 nomination ballots and becomes Hong Kong's first ever female candidate for Chief Executive.

Election countdown: 62 days

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Once Upon A Song Soundtracks

The theme song for Once Upon A Song is called "Doing a Good Show" (做場好戲), sung by William So, Charles Ying, Kate Yeung, Jason Chan, Lesley Chiang and Benji Chiang.

William So sings the sub-theme song, "Even If No Longer Friends" (即使不再是朋友). Bernice Liu is featured in the MV.

Kate Yeung's song from the series, "Naturally Gifted' (得天獨厚)

The sub-theme song by Evelyn Choi, "Chasing Rainbows" (追蹤彩虹)

The ending theme song by Kelvin Kwan, called "Not Mentioning A Word" (隻字不提)

Jason Chan's song in the series, "One Word, One Tear" (一字一淚)

"Miracle" (奇蹟) by Kate Yeung

Evelyn Choi's song, "Losing What Was Gained" (得而復失)

Charles Ying sings "Love is a Game" (愛即是遊戲)

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

Monday, January 05, 2015

The Election Episode 6 Recap

In the 2012 election, the media exposed the backroom deals that took place, but what citizens saw was only the tip of the iceberg. Elections have and always will be a mixture of competition and backroom dealing.

In a radio interview, Yip Ching (Angelica Lee) is asked to comment about the dirt that netizens have dug up from Cheung Kwai Lung's (Gregory Wong) past. She continues to defend him despite the negative impact on her campaign.

Tse Mei Mei (Luvin Ho), the woman accusing Cheung of rape, faints in front of the courthouse just before she is set to testify. The case is delayed until she recovers. Rumours go around that she is purposely delaying the case until after the election, on orders from her husband, deputy minister Li Chong Chai (Jim Ping). Song is told that Yip Ching was seen meeting with Li before the trial. He orders his assistant to find out what benefits she may have offered to Li.

Song hires a team of people to slander Cheung on social media. They make numerous negative posts about him on social media platforms and also manipulate the search results to have "Cheung Kwai Lung, political dirtbag" come up as the first hit on search engines. Song is thrilled by this progress. On the other side, Yip Ching gathers her own team to retaliate in the online war.

Poon Tsz Wan (Eunice Ho) continues with her investigation into Wai Man Hin. She finds out from a retired reporter that Wai had once registered a foreign shell company to hide a sizable fund from an unknown source. She suspects that it may have been a political bribe, but there is no evidence.

Deputy Minister Li meets with Song and two other legislators. He tries to persuade them to support the D9 bill regarding land development in the New Territories. The two legislators are fearful that it will anger their constituents, however, Song agrees to help pass the bill. Speaking privately with Li, Song also offers him a position in his government if he is elected. In exchange, he wants to see Tse Mei Mei's speedy "recovery" to allow the rape case to proceed.

The Northeastern New Territories Development Plan is a proposal to demolish some villages in the New Territories and open up the land for development. It has been met with heavy resistance from the villagers, who stormed the Legislative Council building in June 2014 to try to prevent the passing of a bill that would fund the first phrase of the project. Despite strong protests and a filibuster by pro-democracy councillors, the bill was eventually approved. 

Yip Ching visits Sum Suet Lai (Violet Li). She hopes that HKMG can report on the unpublished sex scandal involving Tse Mei Mei from two years ago. Yip Ching promises she can try all legal means to help Sum's son avoid extradition if she is elected, but Sum points out that she is no longer favoured to win. Nonetheless, Sum says that if the news channels report on the sex scandal tomorrow morning, it will mean that she is still placing her bet on Yip Ching.

Next, Yip Ching gets a call from Tse Mei Mei, who demands $5 million to not testify against Cheung. Yip Ching does not give an immediate response.

Sum calls Gei Man Wai (Isabel Chan) to her office and has her film a segment of the news broadcast about the sex scandal. Sum sends the yet-to-be released segment to Song to see what kind of deal he would make to her. Song suddenly excuses himself to go to the washroom, where it is shown that he has a nosebleed. When he returns to the room, he tells Sum that if she does not back the right candidate, her son will be extradited to the USA and HKMG's license will not be renewed due to a "basket of reasons".

A "basket of reasons" was used by the government to explain the rejection of HKTV's application for a TV license.

The next morning, the sex scandal is not reported in the news. Yip Ching quietly goes to take out money from her safety deposit box. At the same time, Cheung goes to Gei's house. He blackmails her with a tape recording of her trying to coax a government official into spilling secret information and gets her to hand over something that he needs.

The doorbell rings in Tse Mei Mei's hotel room. She opens the door to find Cheung. He shows her the video clip of her having sex with another man and threatens to release it if she testifies against him in court. Tse Mei Mei knows that she is caught. He gives her some money and urges her to fly to Malaysia to start a new life. When Yip Ching arrives at the hotel, Cheung is waiting for her at the door and tells her that Tse Mei Mei had already gone to the airport.

Song holds a press conference to announce his resignation as a legislative council member in preparation for his election run. Just when he finishes his speech, he feels dizzy as he looks around the room full of reporters...