By Elliot Williams

It is currently impossible to drive around Canberra without being assaulted by political signage. With the election coming up this Saturday, 15 October, it’s hardly surprising.

Who says less is more? Campaign signs dominate Margaret Timpson Park.

Who says less is more? Campaign signs dominate Margaret Timpson Park.

 

Variations of ‘No Tram’ have been popular. The Liberals, who love a three-word slogan with the best of them, gave us the clichéd ‘For All Canberrans’.

Labor, on the other hand, found it difficult to extend themselves beyond ‘Vote Labor’ or ‘Vote [insert name here]’.

It has been uninspiring to say the least, and Canberrans have not responded well.

However, independent Ginninderra candidate, Dr Kim Huynh, better known as Kimbo, has done his best to stand out from the crowd and engage his electorate.

Describing his campaign strategy as “to have a good time”, Kimbo and his team would like to bring some positivity back to ACT politics.

“We add the fun, the colour, the spice to politics,” he says.

Having spent a lot of time shadowing and speaking to Kimbo in the lead up to this election, here’s some insight into the four main facets of his campaign that have helped it to stand out from the pack.

1) The Torso

Maintaining that famous torso

Maintaining that famous torso

 

If you’ve been in the Belconnen area at all over the last few weeks, it’s highly likely that you’ve noticed a large naked torso sporting a BELCO 2617 tattoo. The torso is real, the tattoo isn’t.

As far as name recognition it has been a success, with little else drawing attention like a half-naked Kimbo.

But, as with everything in this campaign, there is a much deeper significance behind the image.

Kim Huynh arrived in Australia with his family in 1979, fleeing a turbulent Vietnam. Only two years old and having almost died multiple times during the journey, Huynh was at his most vulnerable.

His body today, then, engenders a sense of pride in the now middle-aged father.

That is not to suggest he is vain. Rather it is evidence of his fundamental belief that through hard work anything is achievable.

Through a commitment to exercising every day, Huynh was able to transform a weak and diseased child into a fit and strong man, and the sign represents that journey.

It also expresses another key element of Huynh’s campaign – authenticity.

A vote for Kim Huynh is just that, nothing more. Not a vote for a party, special interest groups or anything else.

He, like any independent, doesn’t have party ideologies to fall back on, just his character.

He won’t hide behind a party, and in this case he won’t even hide behind clothes.

“It’s 100 per cent Kimbo,” he says.

Peloton of one

Peloton of one

2) The Bikes

“Why wouldn’t you do something you enjoy?”, replies Huynh when asked why he primarily campaigned by riding his bike throughout Ginninderra.

Rain, hail or shine, a bright yellow-clad Kimbo can be found riding around the electorate one of his five campaign bikes.

The most significant of these bikes is the old, one-speed Diamondback that he connected to a home trainer and rode stationary at various spots around Belconnen.

The bike was the first luxury item his parents bought once they had settled in Australia.

“It was the first thing that made us feel not poor anymore,” he explains.

3) Batman

A recent addition to the bike has been a certain caped crusader: Belco’s Batman.

Belco's Batman - Canberra's Saviour?

Belco’s Batman – Canberra’s Saviour?

 

This wouldn’t come as a surprise to Kimbo’s former students as the costume made an occasional appearance during his days as an ANU academic.

“Batman means a lot to me,” he says.

“He doesn’t have any superpowers, he does it all through hard work.

“He owns his demons. That’s really powerful for a nerdy refugee boy.”

The Batman suit embodies everything about Huynh’s campaign: it’s fun, it’s different and it has a deeper meaning. Ultimately, it’s him.

4) The Glasses

Finally, we have the logo for the campaign – the Kimbo glasses.

You never truly move out - the campaign trailer outside Mum and Dad's

You never truly move out – the campaign trailer outside Mum and Dad’s

 

They’re his actual glasses. The very ones his son accidentally broke three days out from the campaign launch.

So why pick the glasses? To represent his past as an academic? To try and appeal to the hipster vote?

No, it’s a nod to the tactics of the revolutionaries in the Vietnam War.

He’s not claiming to be a revolutionary, but says that an independent needs to operate similarly.

“It’s about turning your weakness into your strength,” he says.

Where an independent’s anonymity is their weakness, their mystery can be their strength.

He wants people to be intrigued by the glasses, to want to know who the face behind them is.

*****

Kimbo 5Kim Huynh’s campaign is all about him — he’s an independent, that’s all it could be about.

Each element of his campaign depicts a different element of his character and that’s why he’s been so noticeable.

People can only relate so far with trams, rates and clichés, but someone sincerely representing themselves is something that perhaps all politicians could learn from.

However, it begs the question: are these campaign tactics simply political gimmicks?

“Of course they’re gimmicks,” he responds frankly.

“But at least they’re my gimmicks.”

“It’s not like someone told me to do it this way. I came up with the campaign and it all means something to me.”

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  1. Belco votes | Scott Bridges - October 15, 2016

    […] candidate better known to basically everyone in northern Canberra as “Kimbo” due to his unique and attention-grabbing Go Kimbo campaign. Tom was the only person I could see campaigning away from the Westfield side of the exclusion […]

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