With apologies to U2, Watch Out! for Cuson Lo’s biting cartoonist-activist and his take on Hong Kong politics.
Most political social media influencers, like Kay Lam (林忌) and Chan Do (陳到), are writers. A rare few embrace the visual arts, bringing colour and vitality to the debates on our political and social affairs. Cuson Lo (盧熾剛) spills his digital ink on Hong Kong’s politicians.
The Numbers: Cuson has accumulated more than 100,000 likes and 50,000 followers on his Facebook pages. This is an impressive sum even among prominent public figures, surpassing current lawmakers including Wong Yuk-man (~24,000 followers) and Chan Chi-chuen (~12,000 followers), radical activist Wong Yeung-tat (~26,000 followers) and student leader Joshua Wong (~12,000 followers).
He made his name back in 2010 during the LegCo by-election aimed at triggering a Five Constituencies Referendum (五區公投) on political reform. He drew cartoons portraying the five resigning lawmakers, Civic Party’s Alan Leong and Tanya Chan, and the League of Social Democrats’ Leung Kwok-hung, Wong Yuk-man and Albert Chan (both Wong and Chan since resigned).
Since then, he has been closely aligned with the more radical side of the pro-democracy camp, once drawing political cartoons for Passion Times and now working for AM730. His works include “Five Constituencies Referendum”, “Happy Politics (快樂政治)” and “My Hongkongese wife (我的港女老婆)”.
Is ‘Cuson’ your pseudonym?
I picked the name ‘Cuson’ when I was in secondary school. It was chosen after a prominent radio DJ, Cuson Law Kai-sun (羅啟新). So strictly speaking it was not a pseudonym and I did not mean to include any political implication in the process.
The number of your online followers is just staggering.
I was still a newcomer to the field of political cartoons back in 2010. So it did surprise me to have attracted so much attention after drawing cartoons of the lawmakers in the Five Constituencies Referendum online.
My intention was to pay tribute to them in an unusual way. The movement, of course, turned out to be a game changer in the course of democratic development in the city. Many people started paying attention to the political reform because of the event, and I happened to be among the first people to have recorded it in cartoon strips in the online media. With cartoon strips you can turn controversial debates into graphics that are funny and easy to understand. I think the facts that we are living in a society of fast food culture, and that I have a clear and radical political stance just made my cartoons even more popular.
People tend to see you as closely aligned to the radical pan-democrats. How would you identify your political stance?
I would say I am a supporter of the localist activists. Although I am not exactly a member of the activist group Civic Passion (熱血公民), I think their yong-mo (勇武, prepared to impose violence) approach is justified.
That being said, my stance is very straightforward – I would back whatever Wong Yuk-man advocates. I am a big fan of his radio shows and have learnt a lot from him. I was politically apathetic before and his exceptional character made me care about public affairs. That was why I used to draw cartoons for the political party he was in – the LSD in the beginning, and then the People Power. I also drew for other pro-democracy parties. Democratic Party, however, is not on the list.
Who would be your most-hated legislator?
I would pick Chan Yuen-han from the Federation of Trade Unions over all other pro-establishment lawmakers. My point is that for those other lawmakers, they have made it clear enough that they are working for Beijing (真小人); But for the FTU and especially Chan Yuen-han, they are hypocrites (偽君子) who always claim to be fighting for the working and lower classes. In reality, when it comes to voting in the LegCo they are no different from their ‘comrades’. People’s livelihood is not exactly their priority. That is why I find them most distasteful.
What is your ideal future of Hong Kong?
My ideal future is in the past – when Hong Kong was still a British colony. Back then life just seemed more delightful. And you can certainly feel that the authorities are tightening up control over freedom of speech on the internet. As you know my Facebook account had been suspended twice. Facebook’s real-name policy seems to have alleviate the issue – be it good or bad – but the development is worrying.
Let’s talk about political cartoons in Hong Kong.
Zunzi’s (尊子) work has been a milestone for the development of political cartoons in the city and I admire him a lot. I once travelled with him in a trip organised by the Hong Kong Art Centre to Taiwan. Beside him, I am glad to see that there are now more cartoonists drawing about political affairs online. However, it is hard for us to earn a living as we almost always get close-to-nil commission when drawing for online media.
To be honest, I seldom draw political cartoons now. These works are too often mere mocking of political figures. More importantly, it is saddening to see that whatever you have done in the fight for democracy has hardly paid off – When you have no hope for the future, why don’t yearn for the good old days?