The Travel with Rivals reality show on ViuTV caused a stir with its first episode featuring legislative councillors “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung and Jasper Tsang Yok-sing. Leung always pushes for more democracy while Tsang is the Legco president who usually supports the government.
It was one of the most popular shows on the new free TV channel. With our city more divided than ever, the show – which pits people of opposite beliefs together on an overseas trip – came at the right time.
After the broadcast, the two spoke at a “celebrity salon” at Youth Square. They discussed how to balance different interests.
Unlike the often angry mood of meetings in the Legislative Council, the talk was more like a relaxed chat. The speakers made jokes in a friendly fashion, even if they were at each other’s expense.
When asked to describe each other as an animal, Tsang described Leung as a snake. In reply, Leung called Tsang a mouse, making a pun of “a den of snake and mice”, a Chinese proverb which means “bad people doing bad things”. But the talk covered serious subjects as well.
During their December trip to Poland, they took part in a charity Christmas lunch. “We were told there would be 90 people, but the room could only hold 30. So I thought it would take a long time with three batches of people,” Tsang recalls. “But it didn’t. It was very quiet, people came and ate what they were given and left. I thought there would be more interaction. It wasn’t very comfortable.”
Leung also shared a moment that stood out for him. “At one of the households we visited, a lady talked about how she was living independently and doing her own thing, like reading books. But I looked at the books and saw they were cheap books and not books you would choose freely. She was telling a half-truth and preserving her dignity. I feel that’s worthy of respect.”
A serious question from the audience was “What is the most important core value of Hong Kong?”
Leung answered: “Our values are all connected. For example, justice and freedom are related. I don’t think a society without freedom can have justice. If you look at the Umbrella movement as a quest for freedom or justice or democracy and reflect on why, after all that effort, we haven’t moved closer to our goals ... that’s what we need to do, challenge ourselves and self-reflect.”
One of the things people asked is whether a friendship could grow between two people on opposite sides of the political divide.
“The best friends you have are the ones you make in secondary school,” Tsang said. “Even if you disagree politically, it won’t break your friendship.” He went on to say that a friend is someone you can trust not to stab you in the back. “And he would just stab me in the front,” he joked, referring to Leung. But when asked if he considered Leung a friend, he replied, “That’s an awkward question”, not answering directly.
The rivalry in the programme could have been done better, Leung said. “If you plan everything out, what rivalry can there be?” he asked. “There’s not enough time to know each other well enough. What the TV station should have done was give us a budget and let us choose where to go. There would definitely be rivalry then.”