Date
19 November 2017
If restoring harmony and unity is Financial Secretary John Tsang’s vision for Hong Kong, he must come up with a concrete plan to tackle the growing populism against anything associated with China. Photo: HKEJ
If restoring harmony and unity is Financial Secretary John Tsang’s vision for Hong Kong, he must come up with a concrete plan to tackle the growing populism against anything associated with China. Photo: HKEJ

Key challenge for CE candidates: Containing the rise of populism

It is already December, but still there is confusion as to who will run in the chief executive race.

There are unconfirmed reports that our Beijing bosses have given certain aspirants the “green light” or the “red light”, i.e., they were either told to run or not to run, fueling public speculation on who is going to become our next chief executive.

Fortunately, things are slowly getting clearer.

Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah has publicly announced that he is actively considering running for chief executive.

Lawmaker and former security chief Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee is widely expected to announce her candidacy during an important event to be held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in mid-December.

So with John Tsang and Regina Ip ready to throw their hats into the ring, along with retired justice Woo Kwok-hing, who has already announced his candidacy, and the incumbent Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, who everyone knows is determined to seek a second term, the election for the city’s top job is likely to be the most crowded and competitive.

It will remain a “small circle” election, but for the vast majority of our citizens who are not allowed to cast their vote, a competitive CE election is still better than nothing.

It is because the more candidates are running, the more variables there will be in the outcome.

All candidates will have to present a solid election platform and policy agenda in order to convince both the Election Committee members and the public that he or she is the fittest to lead our city.

John Tsang recently ran an article in his blog titled “An even more spectacular view ahead”, in which he stressed the need for unity and reconciliation in our highly polarized and divisive society.

He also stressed that if Hong Kong people fail to stay unified and work for a common goal, he is afraid that every policy initiative to turn things around in our city will only get half of the result with twice the effort or may even end up in vain no matter how ideal is our vision.

Although the article is far from a formal announcement of his candidacy, it offers us a glimpse into John Tsang’s vision for Hong Kong, which is, restoring harmony as a precondition to achieving social and economic progress.

A key to restoring harmony and facilitating social reconciliation is the degree to which the next chief executive is able to pacify the rising right-wing populist sentiment in our city.

Unfortunately, neither John Tsang nor any of the other potential CE candidates has come up with a solid plan on how to tackle the growing negative sentiment toward anything or anyone associated with the mainland.

Hong Kong is not the only place in the world that is facing such a challenge.

Right-wing populism, as shown in the growing opposition to immigrants and globalization, is bestriding Britain, Austria, France, Italy and the United States like the Colossus, while moderates are fast losing popularity and are being marginalized.

As such, apart from containing the rise of separatism, one of the most urgent tasks facing the next CE would be how to tackle populism.

Populism has already taken hold in our city, and has taken its toll on social harmony.

That is why we continue to hope that not only John Tsang but also the other potential CE candidates can come up with a tangible road map to allaying populist sentiment in Hong Kong as soon as possible.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Dec. 5.

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

– Contact us at [email protected]

RT/CG

Hong Kong Economic Journal

EJI Weekly Newsletter

Please click here to unsubscribe