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Long hair seems pretty cool
"Long-haired bull rages in China's shop|
RAISING A RUCKUS: New Legislator Leung Kwok-hung seems unlikely to affect policy, but he has already made his mark as far as style and decibel level are concerned
AP , HONG KONG
Thursday, Oct 14, 2004,Page 5
Advertising When Hong Kong voters elected Leung Kwok-hung (辩瓣动), aka "Long Hair," they knew they were picking a hell-raiser and he hasn't let them down.
The new lawmaker observed China's National Day by hitting the streets with a mock coffin symbolizing student activists killed in China, scuffled with police, then proceeded to shout slogans inside a reception hall full of communist dignitaries.
Five days later he arrived at his swearing-in ceremony at the legislature wearing a T-shirt, shaking his fist and bellowing "Long live democracy! Long live the people." Fellow lawmakers looked on in amazement.
If China's leaders were hoping for predictable, orderly politics in Hong Kong after they got it back from the UK in 1997, 48-year-old Leung is determined to disappoint them. After years of protesting outside the halls of power, he's now raising a ruckus inside them.
Long viewed as a noisy oddball who could barely muster a dozen supporters at his demonstrations, Leung is suddenly a celebrity with reporters assigned to cover his every move.
The reason is his stunning election victory last month, and what it has revealed about residents' frustration toward China and Hong Kong Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa (赋?地).
Hong Kong residents blame Tung for a generally lackluster economy, and are alarmed at recent Chinese moves which they see as dampening their democratic freedoms instead of expanding them.
But last month's election did represent more democracy, because half the 60 seats were directly elected, up from 24 in 2000. And no action has been taken against Leung even though his behavior would be unimaginable in China.
Many voters feel China broke its promise to grant Hong Kong "a high degree of autonomy" when it ruled in April that they cannot elect their leader and the entire legislature by universal suffrage in the next three to four years.
Waving signs, burning flags and yelling into a bullhorn, Leung is a fixture on the street-politics scene, easily identifiable by his long hair and Che Guevara T-shirt. Born to a servant of a colonial British household, he was sent as a child to live with relatives and says the experience set him on a lifetime of raising a ruckus for social equality.
When Leung paid a courtesy call on Tung, he refused to shake the chief executive's hand but demanded that he resign.
Leung the office holder seems unlikely to make much difference on matters like taxation, spending and public policy. But he has already made his mark as far as style and decibel level are concerned.
"He's actually very calculated in challenging the rules, challenging the existing order, but not jeopardizing his own seat," said Ma Ngok, a political scientist at the University of Science and Technology in Hong Kong.
"He just wants to show the rules are ridiculous. He wants to make a mockery of the system," he said.
Beijing has made no official comment on Leung's election, but the Wen Wei Po, which reflects Bei-jing's views, has characterized him as "a wild bull charging into a porcelain shop" and said he must learn to behave. "