The recent melee at the Legislative Council in which six staff members were injured are the latest testimony to the ongoing chaos in Hong Kong’s political scene.
It wasn’t the first time scuffles broke out in Legco, and it surely won’t be the last time, as polarization in our society has continued to escalate.
In order to find out public views on the current political turmoil, the Hong Kong Economic Journal has commissioned the Chinese University of Hong Kong to conduct an opinion poll on the 2017 chief executive election.
According to the results that were released last week, when asked “What do you think is the most essential capability the next chief executive should possess?”, 42.3 percent of the respondents cited “the capability to mend social divisions”.
On the same question, 28.6 percent said the next CE should be able to resolve the housing and poverty issues, while 17.5 percent said our next leader should be capable of facilitating economic development.
As we can see, the poll results show that most of the respondents were frustrated with the current political chaos, so much so that they gave priority to mending our broken social relations over other pressing livelihood issues such as housing, poverty and economic development when it comes to the most urgent task for the next CE.
If our citizens are so badly looking to our next leader to mend relations and restore harmony to our highly polarized society as the poll results suggested, then who is their top pick for the next CE?
According to the findings of the same poll, 28.4 percent of the respondents said they support Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah to be the next chief executive, while retired judge Woo Kwok-hing came in second with a support rate of 13.5 percent, followed by former Legco president Jasper Tsang Yuk-sing (11.4 percent), Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor (10.3 percent), Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying (9.5 percent) and former security chief Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee representing the New People’s Party (8.4 percent).
So far only judge Woo has declared his candidacy, and he appears to have got off to a good start with his frequent media exposure lately.
However, as we have pointed out before, Woo’s major drawback is that he has no election platform, no vision for Hong Kong, and above all, no teammates.
In other words, even if he won, he would have to form his cabinet from scratch.
Unfortunately, the problem of having no teammates seems to be shared by other potential candidates as well.
And the later the other CE hopefuls declare their candidacy, the more difficult it will be for them to find their running mates and put together their teams.
With the CE election just less than five months away, the clock is ticking.
Before the last CE election in March, 2012, Henry Tang Ying-yen resigned from his office as chief secretary and declared his candidacy on Sept. 28, 2011.
Leung Chun-ying stepped down as convener of the Executive Council and declared his CE bid on Oct. 3.
It is already November but, apart from Woo, none of the potential front-runners has announced their candidacy yet. The time for them to put together a decent team is running out.
Perhaps it is important that we bear in mind the lesson of Leung Chun-ying’s initial cabinet, which was put together in haste after he had been elected CE in March, 2012.
It was plagued by scandals almost immediately after the officials had been sworn in, thereby taking a heavy toll on the credibility of the entire administration.
The longer the potential front-runners in the upcoming CE election remain on the sidelines and unable to come up with their own teams, the more likely they are going to repeat Leung’s mistake five years ago.
In the meantime, according to our poll results, 28.2 percent of the respondents identified themselves as “pro-democracy moderates”, while 22.4 percent said they were “neutral” and 19.7 percent considered themselves “non-partisan”.
This suggests that moderate voters still constitute a force to be reckoned with in our city.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Nov. 4.
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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