Lately, lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung, more often known as Long Hair, has spiced up the heated chief executive election with his sudden announcement that he will join the race, saying he will officially declare his candidacy if he manages to get a certain amount of public support.
However, while the pro-establishment camp has largely shrugged him off, Long Hair’s bid has had mixed response from among the pro-democracy camp to which he belongs, because many pan-democrats are puzzled by his rationale.
In fact, Long Hair has been known for his uncompromising stance against small-circle elections and his utmost disdain for anyone who participates in them, including his pan-democratic colleagues, because in his opinion, taking part in these unfair and unjust elections amounts to endorsing them.
However, when asked about the reasons for his sudden about-face, his answer was “times have changed”.
We respect Long Hair’s change of stance because after all any lawful Hong Kong citizen above the age of 40 is entitled to run for chief executive under the Basic Law.
However, what bothers us is his explanation that the real reason he is running is that he doesn’t want the 325 pro-democracy members of the Election Committee to cast their votes for any pro-establishment candidate and that by joining the race he hopes he can provide them with a viable option.
We firmly believe that in all elections, the foremost criterion for any candidate is whether he or she has the support of the majority of the public, not than his or her political affiliations.
This is how genuine democracy is supposed to work and therefore it is a principle that all those who are devoted to the democratic cause should embrace. In other words, when it comes to elections, there is nothing personal, only popularity matters.
We believe Long Hair’s notion that pro-democracy Election Committee members should never vote for any pro-establishment candidates even if they are highly popular among the public just because they are “pro-establishment” is not only unconvincing and illogical but also dangerous.
It is exactly this kind of “you-are-either-with-us-or-against-us” mentality embraced by some radical pan-democrats that is exacerbating the polarization in our society and is working against our democratization process.
Take former financial secretary John Tsang as an example. He is by far leading in basically every poll and would probably be elected by a significant margin if the upcoming chief executive election was determined by one person one vote.
However, according to Long Hair’s logic, Tsang doesn’t deserve a single vote because of his original sin, i.e. he is a pro-establishment candidate. Isn’t that a complete violation of the essence and principle of democracy?
We are not here to urge the 325 pro-democracy members of the Election Committee to throw their weight behind John Tsang with no questions asked.
All we are trying to say is that they should respect the wishes of the public and cast their votes based on the candidate’s popularity rather than which camp he or she belongs to.
In fact, the pan-democrats have already made history by being able to snap up 325 seats on the Election Committee, which makes them a force even Beijing cannot ignore. The next thing they should do is use their votes and make a difference, rather than sitting on the sidelines.
That said, we believe it would be in the best public interest for them to make good and sensible use of the votes in their hands in order to maximize their influence on the election outcome.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Feb. 10
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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