7 John Lee Ismus: We’re trying to decipher the thoughts and language of Hong Kong’s new leader


While we are proud of ourselves here Coconut When researching and detailing today’s most exciting stories, we have to admit that we’re not experts at everything. But few things have baffled us as much as the language and logic of new CEO John Lee. This is, no doubt, due to some lack of understanding on our part about the nuances of political discourse. But now that he’s in office and we’ve had a chance to hear more from him about his policies and the direction he’d like the city to take, there’s no better time to try to crack the code, or at least try to decode some of his most common ideas for me to see what “wisdom” we can glean from them.


1. “setting outcomes as a goal”

stock photos. Photo: Pixabay / Tumisu

One of Lee’s favorite phrases in Cantonese roughly translates to “setting results as a goal.” For example, he stated during his election campaign as well as in his inaugural address that he would “set outcomes as a goal” to solve societal problems, particularly with regard to solving the city’s affordable housing crisis.

To the untrained ear, this mantra may seem like a rhetorical statement lacking substantive content, but current affairs commentator Fong Hee-Ken said the phrase actually epitomizes a “great philosophy of life.”

in sarcastic facebook postFong explained that the concept of “setting outcomes as a goal” means that whatever the outcome, that’s your goal.

“Visually, if you shoot the arrow first, and then draw the target, then no matter where the arrow flies, it will definitely hit the bull’s-eye,” he added. Fung also said it is a “no-loss” philosophy of life and political theory.

We really like this. Maybe we’ll tell our boss during the next performance review that getting results is going to be a KPI as well.


2. “If you solve one problem per day, 365 problems will be solved in one year.”

Me is definitely a results-oriented guy. During his inauguration speech, he also shared this important insight: “We have a lot of problems, but if you solve one a day, you will have 365 solved in a year, there should be results as they accumulate.”

This message appears to resonate with many netizens, with some commentators on the LIHKG forum praising what he said and sharing similar insights:

“No error was calculated.”

“There are 60 seconds in a minute.”

“If you create one problem per day, there will be 365 problems in the year.”

The political world is often filled with lies, so appreciate this accurate and factual statement from Lee. Our only problem: What happens in a leap year? (The next one will be in 2024 and Lee should still be in office then.)


3. “Me and Us”

Screenshot of JohnLee2022.hk’s video of CEO John Lee’s campaign rally.

Perhaps what puzzles Lee most is the campaign slogan he used during the CEO election in May (in which he ran unopposed). The mantra in Cantonese – which roughly translates as “I and we start a new chapter together” – is irrational, with the use of “I” redundant because the last pronoun already encapsulates the first-person singular pronoun.

So we had to do some research to figure out why this logo came up for his 150-man team. We found this article by a columnist at Pro-Government Singing Tao Dili, saying he understood from the sources that Lee’s campaign team felt the use of “me and us” was more innovative. The columnist also noted the use of similar language in the mainland Chinese drama with a title that roughly translates to “me and us together‘, which uses the phrase with ‘literary flair’.

However, that does not seem to align well with Hong Kong in popularity Facebook page Dedicated to reviewing Li’s abilities in Chinese, with some describing the phrase’s use as “the complexity of simplicity,” which goes against the basic rules of communication.

Paul Grace, the philosopher of language, identified a number of constants of conversations, which describe the principles that people intuitively follow for effective communication. One of these is Style wisdomwhich states that you should try to be as clear, concise, and organized as possible in what you say to avoid ambiguity and ambiguity.

As storytellers, we value effective communication, so we’re not fans of this particular Lee-ism.


4. “We and We”

Even more unusual is the English version of the campaign slogan – “We and we are a new chapter together.” Many have pointed out that the translation should have been “me and we” – although this in itself is inaccurate.

In response, he told me in Facebook share In May, after a long discussion, his team decided that the slogan should not be translated directly, and more importantly conveyed the message that “everyone together, without distinction between you and me”. He said that it is necessary to use the first plural pronoun twice in the subject and object forms to get this message across. The CEO also said that “Different people have different views, but [we] They can respect each other’s differences for a pluralistic society.”

However, it seems that many Hong Kongers did not buy his interpretation. For example, file The Facebook page that reviews the use of his language He criticized him for dragging issues of “respect, tolerance and diversity” into a fundamental issue of using language without reason, adding that he should only admit his grammatical errors and find no excuses.

Although we are certainly not the grammar police, we are particularly interested in getting the correct pronouns in the subject and subject position. From our understanding of the slogan, it is about the people of Hong Kong writing a new chapter together. Hence, it makes sense to use only subject pronouns such as “we,” which do or are something, rather than object pronouns such as “we,” which are receptors for the verb. We desperately want to be respectful and tolerant, but we have to take the side of the Facebook critic on this.


5. “High School Mother”

Wah Yan College (Kowloon). Photo: Wikimedia Commons

During his campaign, Lee was asked about his religious beliefs. According to an independent media instantHe replied in English, “Well I am Catholic. I believe in what I learned when I was in my mother’s high school, Wah Yan Kowloon. Thank you [sic] The education I received there, and the way I was brought up.”

For your information, Wah Yan College (Kowloon) is a prestigious all-boys Catholic school in Hong Kong. This might make you wonder why his mom was studying at school. For our non-Chinese-speaking readers, the Cantonese translation of “mother school” actually means mother school.

This Lee-ism can cause a lot of confusion, so we’re not fans of it.


6. A giant moon in which the sun, earth and moon are lined up?

Did you catch the last supermoon? We did and so did our CEO. In fact, he clearly saw it with a lunar eclipse, as evidenced by his use of hashtags indicating that the Sun, Earth, and Moon were aligned in one line.

Wow, this must have been an amazing sight, seeing a lunar eclipse and a supermoon together! Has such an astrological anomaly been seen before? We still can’t see a lunar eclipse in its picture, but we are absolutely my generation and don’t have a sharp eye like mine.


7. Openly say how good Hong Kong is

in Lee’s first question-and-answer session with the legislature earlier this month, legislator Chan Siu-hung asked chief executive how the government would respond to smear campaigns by foreign forces and tell the story of China and Hong Kong in a good way.

Lee replied that although Hong Kong is a “gentleman”, there are many “bad guys” in the world, so the government will need to explain Hong Kong’s merits and achievements to the world in a frank way.

His statement was scorned by many Hong Kongers, not only for being too confrontational, but also for the specific phrase he chose to describe this more straightforward approach — roughly translating to “draw cartoon characters with their guts seen” — a slang usage seen as inappropriate for a formal setting. to the Legislative Council.

It’s a bit hard for us to see cartoon characters with their guts full, so we’d like a little more subtlety when it comes to promoting how Hong Kong is a great place.



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