My expectation of the next Chief Executive election
A speech delivered at a speaker luncheon of Hong Kong Democratic Foundation on 5 July 2011
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am very pleased to have this opportunity to share with you some of my thoughts on the next Chief Executive election. Actually initially, I was asked by Alan (Lung) to speak on my expectation of the next Chief Executive, but I thought that topic was not interesting.
It is quite trivial actually. Not that I want to trivialize the personalities, that is not my intention. But we have seen how the two Chief Executives performed in the past. We started with CH Tung who was then a renowned businessman of international repute, had good popularity, good connection inside Hong Kong, with China and also in the world with many international leaders. Yet he ended up with regrettably poor performance.
And then we have another Chief Executive stepping into the shoes of CH Tung who had to leave his office by more or less forced resignation. Donald Tsang performed quite well initially, but subsequently he faced a lot of challenges. It seems that he’s facing a popularity crisis right now. I believe it is very difficult for him to regain his popularity in his remaining term. I would like to say that this is not entirely due to personalities. These two gentlemen have their own strong points. Donald Tsang is smart enough to climb the political ladder from the rank and file to the top man in Hong Kong. Of course he must be a smart guy.
A good system enables people with ability to work effectively
But why did CH Tung and Donald perform so badly? I think that has much to do with the system. How can you expect a Chief Executive to perform well when he doesn’t get the legitimacy through the baptism of a proper election? And then he is constantly torn between a small group of vested interests who have access to power and influence in Hong Kong. And then the society which is having rising expectation of the government and is constantly energized and activated by NGOs and the opposition parties.
And the Chief Executive also has to face a very fragmented Legislative Council with no steady support. And he doesn’t even have a team of dedicated politicians working with him. All the people he found available at that time maybe had good reputation as professionals, as bankers, and they were just drawn into the political team. But they, I’m afraid, had no common conviction and dedication at the time the team was formed. So basically that is a systemic problem.
Without changing the system, I can hardly expect that any person with political wisdom, with leadership can manage to rule Hong Kong effectively and continue to command his band, and enjoy legitimacy and be able to please several masters. We all know who the masters are, not only Hong Kong people but also the businessmen in the election committee and also leaders in Beijing. So whoever is going for the next Chief Executive, be it Henry Tang or CY Leung, they will be facing this situation. That’s why we have to constantly try to fight for a good system, to enable people with ability to work effectively.
The next Chief Executive Election
But I’m more interested in talking about the next Chief Executive election because as I see it, this should be the last election based on a small constituency of 1200 voters. This should be the last small-circle election. In 2017, we’re expecting to have the “one man, one vote” system, and hopefully it will be a meaningful and truly competitive election with no obstacles created in the nomination process. This is something that we have to fight for because the road map is not yet drawn, not yet unfolded. We still have to work out the details but we have to get ourselves ready. And that is the meaning of this 2012 Chief Executive election.
The Pan-Democrats representatives have on several occasions in the past couple of weeks put our heads together. We share the view that we have to work together and that we have to do something, we have to get ourselves engaged in this election. Not that we believe that this is a genuine election, we all know that this is a fake election. It is in fact an appointment under disguise. We even have every reason to believe that if the Pan-Democrats do not stand up for the election, there would probably only be one candidate who would be elected, ipso facto, most likely this will be the situation.
Even if there is another candidate from the pro-establishment camp, I think the result is already pre-determined. So it’s an appointment under disguise. Then why do we have to stand up for the election? Why do we have to take part in it? Past experience tells us, if we decide to boycott the election, and then express our strong opposition against it by protesting, we will probably be able to steal the limelight for a couple of days. And that’s it. We’ll be left out in the cold for the rest of the time during the election period. Nobody will be interested to know or bothered about what the Democrats are doing or will be doing. So we have to seize the opportunity to express ourselves, to seize the platform to show our determination and to unfold our vision to the whole world and to the Hong Kong public. So we should get ourselves engaged, we should not be left out in the cold. That is one thing.
Secondly, of course we have to make it quite clear that we are not seeking to legitimize the election, but we would like to seize this opportunity to express ourselves. In doing so, I think it is imperative that the parties in the Pan-Democracy camp stand together united. We have to present a clear picture of unity among ourselves and that we are not fighting one another for a fake election. It’s a knowing situation but we have to show our unity and we have to take part together. To that end, it is imperative and necessary for us to work out a structure so as to enable us to choose a candidate for the purpose of demonstrating the vision of the Pan-Democracy parties.
The structuring of this process is important because as we anticipate, in 2017, in the event, likely or not, that we are going to have a genuine election. I think all the Pan-Democracy parties have to fight on a coalition. I don’t think we are resourceful enough in terms of money and talent to fight for the election divided among ourselves. I don’t think we can do it as we are facing such a huge and formidable opponent on the other side backed up by an invisible state apparatus. We aren’t able to fight them so we have to stand united; we have to stand as a coalition. It is important for us to structure a way as to let this coalition function. And for that purpose we have to structure a way to select a commonly accepted representative of the coalition. And also we are determined to try to structure a primary election for the Pan-Democrats then obviously this would be a clear message to be sent to all those people who would also be motivated to engage themselves in the election committee elections.
We know that the election committee is important not for this term, because again by design the result is already pre-determined. An overwhelming majority would be voting according to the will of Beijing, I can tell you for sure. But we must however make sure that there should be sufficient members who are able to get into the committee and then the Pan-Democracy camp would be able to gain an admission ticket to stand up for the election. So all these are tied together. The engagement process involves the election of members of the election committee, the formation of a coalition and working party for the purpose of conducting a primary election, and then we need to build a common platform to show the whole world our dedication and our determination to strive for universal suffrage in 2017 and 2020.
Primary Election for the Pan-Democrats
With regard to the primary election, there have also been discussions. We can do it by popularity surveys, but there is an interesting idea suggested by a group of scholars, that we can do it by a way of direct voting by the residents of Hong Kong. The mechanism is very simple. We can get, say 200 computers, and then set up several voting booths in the offices of district councilors or LegCo members or even set up a booth on the street. With the computers and necessary software, anybody who identifies himself as a Hong Kong resident by showing his identity card can then vote by keying into the computer. The software would make sure there would be no double counting. Once you log in an ID number, it would immediately be connected to the computer server, and then the same person cannot vote again in other booths operating on that day. I’m totally ignorant about the software but I was told that money can do it. So I’m looking to George or some other people who are resourceful to back us. It’s very simple but interesting. We have never tested it before but it would be a process to engage the community. In doing so we wouldn’t mislead the community by saying that any of us who can gain access to the competition would have the chance of becoming your next Chief Executive. We can make sure that there would not be any misunderstanding. We will focus on the process and try to make it work. We will try to test the engine, so as to make sure that when we have to rely on the engine, it can work, and that we have sufficient experience to make it work. So that is the whole idea.
To conclude, in the times to come, it is essential that we have to get ourselves continued to engage in every aspect of the political process. We are always on the weak side. The opponent is formidable but yet we are determined to continue to present ourselves as a credible opposition. We are confident that we have the support of the community and that even working as a credible opponent; we would be able to exert our influence on the government. Just look at how the recent big march had effect on the government. Engagement in politics is important. You cannot just rely on people fighting on the streets. The people have to engage themselves in the political process. They have representatives in the LegCo, the District Councils and different statutory bodies.
We will continue to work in concert to press the government for change. Of course I always believe that fighting on all fronts is important. What I did last year, which is entering into the talk with the central government, resulting in a compromise, comprising mutual concession, was important. This is one way of gaining as an advance in the days to come. Trying to grasp every opportunity to seek a dialogue would also be another dimension of Hong Kong’s politics. That is the way forward.
Thank you very much for your concern for Hong Kong and we need to have the continuous support of the international community for the fight for democracy in Hong Kong.
Albert Ho Chun Yan (何俊仁)
Chairman of the Democratic Party and Member of the Legislative Council (民主黨主席及立法會議員)
5 July 2011
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