20 January 2019
A total of 1,194 Election Committee members will decide today whether John Tsang (left), Carrie Lam (middle) or Woo Kwok-hing (right) will be Hong Kong’s next chief executive. Photo: HKEJ
A total of 1,194 Election Committee members will decide today whether John Tsang (left), Carrie Lam (middle) or Woo Kwok-hing (right) will be Hong Kong’s next chief executive. Photo: HKEJ

CE election: Weighing the candidates’ platforms

The 2017 Chief Executive Election is taking place today at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center in Wan Chai. The first round of voting is scheduled for this morning at 9 a.m., during which the 1,194 Election Committee members will cast their votes to determine who is going to be our next chief executive.

If no candidate is able to pass the electoral threshold in the first round of voting, a second, and if necessary, a third round will be held at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., respectively.

The assigned numbers for the three candidates — John Tsang Chun-wah, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and Woo Kwok-hing — on the ballot paper are 1, 2 and 3, respectively.

The campaign slogan of John Tsang is “Trust, Hope and Unity”. In his election platform, Tsang lays down his visions for Hong Kong for the next 20 to 30 years in four different aspects — quality development, quality city, quality people and quality life.

Tsang believes enhancing social cohesion and re-establishing trust between the government and the public are the key to success in redressing the situation in our city and achieving effective governance.

As far as housing and land are concerned, Tsang has vowed to increase the supply of public housing if elected, so that in the long run, 60 percent of our population will be living in Public Rental Housing flats. He has also pledged to review the role of the Urban Renewal Authority and relaunch the “Sandwich Class Housing Scheme” for middle-income families.

In the meantime, he has vowed to press ahead with the enactment of Article 23 of the Basic Law in the form of a “white paper” and legislate for the less controversial parts of the article first.

When it comes to universal retirement protection, Tsang has proposed a means-tested pension scheme for retirees and vowed to streamline the existing welfare mechanism for the elderly.

As for the highly divisive issue of whether to scrap the existing hedging mechanism of the Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF), Tsang has suggested that a seed fund be established and the percentage of employers’ contribution to the MPF be raised so as to strike a balance between the interests of employers and employees.

On education, Tsang has vowed to re-establish the Education Department and abolish the Territory-wide System Assessment (TSA) test.

The campaign slogan of Carrie Lam is “We Connect: For a more inclusive Hong Kong”. In her election platform, she promises to give overriding priority to building more new homes, promoting a more diversified economy and reviewing our education system if she is elected.

She has also pledged to introduce a new approach to governance, new roles and new philosophy on public finance management to the next administration.

As far as housing is concerned, Lam has promised that she will designate land for building residential flats that are specifically and exclusively available to local first-time homebuyers, increase the supply of flats under the Green Form Subsidized Home Ownership Pilot Scheme and allow the existing 250,000 Home Ownership Scheme flat owners who haven’t paid their land premium yet to rent out their properties through social enterprises in order to relieve our current housing shortage.

She has also pledged to explore more brownfield sites to increase housing supply.

When it comes to the enactment of Article 23 of the Basic Law, Lam has said she prefers to defer the issue until there is a suitable environment that allows rational and constructive discussion.

On universal retirement protection, Lam has promised to gather views on whether to abolish the hedging mechanism of the MPF scheme in order to facilitate public consensus on this issue. She has also vowed to allocate an extra HK$5 billion to education annually and scrap the TSA test for primary 3 students.

The campaign slogan of Woo Kwok-hing is “Good Heart, Right Path, Bright Future for Hong Kong”. Woo has stressed that unlike the other two candidates, he carries no political baggage.

He has also vowed to relaunch public consultation on political reform immediately once elected, because he believes it is the most pressing issue facing our city right now. His ultimate goal is to achieve universal suffrage for both the Chief Executive and Legco elections in 15 years.

As far as housing is concerned, Woo has also vowed to designate sites to build residential flats exclusively for local first-time homebuyers, and revoke the so-called “double spicy measures” on home purchases in a step-by-step manner within five years.

On the enactment of Article 23, Woo has promised to legislate for both Article 22 and 23 simultaneously in order to uphold “one country, two systems”.

When it comes to universal retirement protection, Woo has proposed a non-means-tested benefit of HK$2,500 per month for all elderly and HK$3,800 per month for retirees who have taken an oath regarding the amount of their personal assets.

On education, he has proposed to raise the education budget to 4.5 percent of GDP, call a halt to the TSA test for primary 3 students immediately and re-evaluate whether the same test for primary 6 and secondary 3 students should be retained.

Translation by Alan Lee

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