An open letter to the chief executive Election Committee

January 26, 2017 15:49
Woo Kwok-hing is a broadly experienced, well balanced candidate whose primary loyalty is to Hong Kong. Woo is up against Carie Lam, John Tsang and Regina Ip (insets clockwise) in the chief executive election. Photo: Reuters, Bloomberg, HKEJ

Dear electors,

I am crediting you with a modicum of intellect and, even though I have grave reservations based on past performance, a moral conscience.

Neither of these attributes automatically connotes common sense, a quality that heretofore many of you have given little evidence of possessing.

That notwithstanding, I will invest you with a sense of obligation to Hong Kong, a place that has given to and nurtured in each of you a handsome living.

Loyalty exists at different levels, expanding from the most immediate of family to close friends and associates and thence to the community in which these primary loyalties flourish.

An appropriate analogy can be drawn with the army.

A soldier’s closest loyalty begins with those members of the smallest unit in which he lives and fights, from section to platoon to company to regiment and then to brigade, division and ultimately army and country.

I draw the analogy to emphasize the priorities of preference.

Translate this to the Hong Kong politician and the first loyalty is to their functional or party constituency and then to Hong Kong itself within the context of one country and two systems.

Consequently, in previous elections for chief executive, have you truly exercised votes on behalf of your primary loyalty?

Or, if the Chinese Communist Party has been dictating for whom you should vote, have you subordinated your loyalty to your party/functional constituency and the SAR?

If you tell me that your Hong Kong constituents’ interests are best served by a servile submission to Beijing’s dictat, are you not guilty of endeavouring to serve two masters, masters whose interests are not necessarily subsumed, the one into the other?

In the forthcoming election for chief executive, you have the power to choose between four candidates.

Will you give your vote to the person best qualified to put Hong Kong’s interests objectively above his or her own?

Carrie Lam now says that she is standing to avoid the constitutional crisis that would occur if someone unacceptable to Beijing were elected.

Inherent in this disclosure is that she is acceptable whereas one or more of the other candidates is not.

Why on earth should this be so?

Consider the attributes of the candidates.

Initially, Carrie Lam claimed that she was answering a call from God; obviously she needed summoning by an even higher power.

That this ex-bureaucrat has her head so far in the clouds is further evidenced by her ignorance of how to use an Octopus card.

But how will she solve Hong Kong’s problems if she felt she had to return to her official residence when she found no toilet paper in her service apartment?

How could someone so far out of touch with reality be fit for the job?

Then there is John Tsang, an ineffectual Pooh Bear type of ex-civil servant who, as financial secretary, never managed to get the budget correct.

Drinking coffee and watching French movies to prove that he belongs to the middle class hardly qualifies him to advance the people of Hong Kong.

On his watch, this miserly financial mismanager squandered billions of dollars on frantically costly bridges to nowhere whilst Hong Kong’s homeless and aged residents live in scandalously inhuman conditions, subject to unmonitored abuse by those entrusted with their welfare.

Alternatively, you could vote for Regina Ip, a woman with an appetite for Article 23 and a propensity to burst into tears whenever she feels she has been slighted.

Other than Regina Ip’s resignation, each of these bureaucrats’ careers has been simply time serving, waiting to step into the shoes of previous retirees, safe in the knowledge that having done nothing, no one could blame them.

In marked contrast to these super civil servants is ex-vice president of the Court of Appeal, K.H. Woo.

His career is one of singular achievement, his professional experience both at the bar and on the bench having exposed him to virtually every aspect of human behavior.

Administratively, he has chaired, with distinction, two very sensitive committees, the election committee and that evaluating police and ICAC applications to tap private phones and email.

One need only read his judgments to appreciate that there is a powerful vein of practicality and common sense that informs his decisions, qualities essential for someone who has to balance the interests of Hong Kong and the mainland.

K.H.’s commitment to Hong Kong was well illustrated in a dispute between conflicting Hong Kong claimants to ownership of a company operating an internet game.

In a judicial aside, he remonstrated with the parties, demanding rhetorically why rather than compromise they were bent on destroying a Hong Kong success story?

For a broadly experienced, well balanced candidate whose primary loyalty is to Hong Kong and whose temperament and judgment have been forged in the testing crucible of innumerable legal conflicts, why look any further?

That K.H. also has a sense of humour is the final benchmark of a man entirely comfortable in his own skin and well fitted to lead Hong Kong.

So, I can only conclude that anyone exercising their vote for any candidate other than K.H. Woo is either bereft of intellect or has lost their moral compass.

Such a perverse outcome would be a consummation devoutly to be avoided.

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Queen's Counsel