18 November 2018
If Margaret Chan (L) and Bernard Chan (C) can be seen as possible choices in Hong Kong's next chief executive election, why not popular movie star Chow Yun-fat (R)? Photos: AFP, HKEJ
If Margaret Chan (L) and Bernard Chan (C) can be seen as possible choices in Hong Kong's next chief executive election, why not popular movie star Chow Yun-fat (R)? Photos: AFP, HKEJ

CE race: Some ‘healthy’ wild cards

All told, health is the most important asset that anyone can have. And so it is in politics.

Sometimes even an association with a health organization can make one seem have an upper hand in a political race.

Just take a look at Margaret Chan Fung Fu-chun, who is now being bandied about in some circles as a potential wild card in Hong Kong’s 2017 chief executive election.

Chan, the Director General of the World Health Organization, will complete her 10-year tenure at the global health body just in time for the Hong Kong political race.

As Simon Shen, lead writer for EJ Global, has pointed out, Chan has the experience of leading an international organization, something that no Hongkonger has achieved in the last 100 years.

Chan, who has been named by Forbes as the 30th most powerful woman in the world, is also said to have earned the trust of Beijing over the years, giving her an advantage.

That said, we should point out that Chan herself has not given any indication that she wants to throw her hat into the ring. (Who will stick their neck out in this sensitive period, except someone like Regina Ip?)

When asked by a reporter, Chan is to have remarked: “Come on, naughty, don’t play on me.”

Meanwhile, some netizens are also treating the speculation as a bad joke.

Some recalled the days when she was called “Chicken Chan”, a nickname earned after she tried to allay bird flu concerns by telling the public that she ate chicken every day.

And recently, there has been criticism that she hasn’t been doing a good job in handling Ebola and other infectious diseases.

Now, a person who appears to have a more “healthy” image compared to Chan, who is now 68 years in age, is Bernard Chan, when it comes to potential election candidates. 

Bernard, who just turned 50 and is an Executive Council member, was last week appointed as the chairman of a Committee on Reduction of Salt and Sugar in Food.

Possibly the first of its kind in this part of the world, Chan has been tasked with putting forward recommendations to Dr Ko Wing-man, Secretary for Food & Health, on policy directions and work plans to reduce people’s intake of salt and sugar and to keep people healthy.

Will his new position serve as a test of his ability to take up more serious challenges? Or, were his new duties meant to sideline him and keep him out of the contention for bigger things” One can only speculate, as no one knows the answers for sure.

Meanwhile, Bernard appears to have one thing going in his favor: he runs a gym in Sheung Wan for old folks. If he can motivate the retirees for voluntary work, he can perhaps push his political agenda. ([click here] for “The old man and the gym”) 

While netizens have made fun of the name of the newly established committee, they also set up a Facebook page on Bernard Chan, titled “I ask you to stop watching AV (adult video)”. [click here] 

In fact, Chan is a fan of spicy food. He believes that a chili dish in every meal is good for his health. When he was 18, he was almost killed by Takayasu’s Arteritis, a rare disease involving inflammation in the walls of the largest arteries in the body.

Will his medical history hurt his credibility in leading a health committee and possibly take on bigger things later?

I’m not sure, but Beijing will probably treat it as a negative factor.

But then if you want someone who is healthy and globally popular, as well as enjoy the trust of Beijing, how about taking into consideration Chow Yun-fat?

The movie superstar never misses an opportunity to talk to Hong Kong people, share meals with them and discuss people’s joys and sorrows.

Blessed with a common touch, he could just prove to be another Ronald Regan!

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EJ Insight writer

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