These numbers suggest apathy is part of the new political reality. I don’t think many of us are surprised by that. There’s very little to be gained in expressing political opinions on social media, not since the deep fissures left by the 2019 anti-government unrest, which not only split communities, but severed lifelong friendships and tore families apart.
I wish them the best of luck and commend their courage to return to the political scene, despite the drastic changes. Professor Lau Siu-kai, a consultant with the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, a semi-official Beijing think tank, sees it as a positive sign too. But he didn’t mince his words when it comes to what Beijing is looking for.
“From Beijing’s point of view, it would be best if the Democratic Party was willing to transition into a patriotic group, but it won’t matter if no one from the party gets through the gate in the end,” he said. “After all, it won’t make a difference to the big picture.”
Still, it is important that those with the power to nominate consider letting the Democratic Party take part, if they really have Hong Kong’s future at heart. The political interest survey has revealed disturbing findings. Political apathy is not something to aspire to, and it doesn’t make governance any less challenging.
About 55 per cent said they believed government officials did not care much about what they thought. Close to 52 per cent said they did not have “any say” on government policies.
With this is mind, it should be remembered that political powerlessness gave rise to the fatalism that fuelled the 2019 social unrest.
With nothing to gain or lose, people may not be “in your face” now, but with negative sentiment, especially in the absence of open communication with district councillors or legislators, lighting the fuse is easy.
Alice Wu is a political consultant and a former associate director of the Asia Pacific Media Network at UCLA