Pre-campaign Rumors in Hong Kong

Can you say mixed signals?  Can you say pure noise?  The Chief Executive position is up for election in June, and it is hard to find anyone left who has not been rumored to be in the race.  Some people may initially have the idea of floating a signal in order to gauge the response.  But by this point the population of Hong Kong must be surely totally immunized: everyone who is anyone has been named, every rumor is just as unreliable as any other, and there is no point in reacting to anything anymore.

Here is a sample of what has been offered.  This is a very small sample that covers the middle and ends of the political spectrum:

First, here is the story from The Sun:

There is considerable division within the pan-democratic camp about the problems of participation and/or candidates.  The most obviously popular choices from the Article 45 Concern Group such as Audrey Eu have declared that they will not enter.  Meanwhile, it is questioned why the candidate must come from one of the 25 current Legislative Councilor.

If no one wants to enter, Democratic Party chairman Lee Wing-tat may do so himself.  Recently, when Lee was asked about whether the Democratic Party will field a candidate, he answered in a bad-tempered way "Anyway, we will find someone from among our nine Legislative Councilors." 

Meanwhile, here is the story from Apple Daily through New Century Net:

The first person to start was Frontier's Emily Lau.  According to Apple Daily, she and her partner Cyd Ho have formed a campaign task force together.

So this time, both Frontier and Article 45 Concern Group have moved ahead before the Democratic Party has done anything.  Should the Democratic Party participate?  The answer is yes.

First, they should participate even though they cannot win because they need to use this opportunity to show the citizens the true meaning of democracy.  If they cannot get the 100 nominating votes, this will show the hypocrisy of the 'small circle' of electors to the citizens and increase their desire to pursue democracy.  It will also cause an international scandal and show the absurdity of "One Country, Two Systems" to the world.  If they do get the 100 nominating votes, then their candidate can be an advocate of the principles of freedom and human rights of the Democratic Party and expose the ugliness of the totalitarian system during the campaign.

Second, due to the powerful pressure and divisive tactics by the Communists, the Democratic Party no longer has Tung Chee-hwa as their target and must seek a new struggle without which they will go into a depression.  Therefore, this opportunity must be exploited.  The major issues should be direct elections, but also people's livelihood.  Although the Hong Kong economy has recovered, issues such as business-government collusion and inequality of wealth are also matters of concern to the citizen.  Although Donald Tsang is adept at public relations and has good public esteem, he has his weakness.  The Democratic Party ought to use the election to scrutinize his performance.

Based upon the current situation, the pan-democratic camp intends to particlate, with possibly more than one candidate.  At first, any number of people can declare their intent, but one of them should be selected through public opinion polling.  The pan-democratic camp can only have one candidate, or else they won't get the 100 nominating votes, in which case the pro-government forces will put the blame of the failure on the democrats. 

The third report comes from Ming Pao (3/24/2005):

The Democratic Party welcomes the idea that the DAB and the Liberal Party both intend to field candidates, but they were concerned that those candidates might withdraw in return for political advantages.

Democratic Party member Chan Wai-yip thinks that there are distinct benefits for the two parties: first, they receive publicity; second, they can use the election as practice to train their members; third, even if they don't ultimately field someone, they still use it as a bargaining chip with the government to wrangle some government appointments for their members.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Party has decided that they will particpate and will coordinate with the other parties to form a cabinet in order to sell their administrative blueprint to the citizens.  They intend to use either a referendum or opinion poll to select one candidate in conjunction with the other parties in the democratic camp.  At that time, they will announce the name of the candidate as well as the cabinet, including the three Secretaries and eleven Department Heads.

Article 45 Concern Group member Ronny Tong agrees that they should form a cabinet slate, because the talents within democratic camp is every bit as good as the current three secretaries and eleven department heads.  He illustrates as follows: "Audrey Eu can head education, Leung Kar-kit can head planning, and Margaret Ng can be the Secretary of Justice."

Should anyone waste their beautiful minds going over these raw materials every day?  Only if you are a masochist.

Still, I can go through my two key question with respect to any candidates.

Q1.  If elected as Chief Executive, do you think officials on mainland China will answer your telephone call or take your requests and recommendations seriously?
A: Forget it, Emily Lau, they will never talk to you and it is too late to renounce your support for Taiwan independence.

Q2.  How much do you know about how the Hong Kong government is run?
A:  With respect to the cabinet slate, it was easy for Ronny Tong to name names for the obvious posts.  But what about the more difficult posts?  Financial Secretary ... hmm ... it seems that Albert Cheng is the Legislative Councilor with the most business experience ... how about giving him a shot?  Head of Public Security (i.e. Police) ... hmm ... it seems that "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung has the most number of encounters with the police ... how about giving him a shot?  Also, you can think about the ramifications might be for someone who is presently in the government to be named in the cabinet slate for what will be a certain losing cause (hint: it is called career suicide).
The assertion is that a democratic candidate should enter to show how bad the system is and how good the democrats are.  The potential drawback is that the process can also highlight how the democrats are as yet unqualified to take over, such as not being able to come up with a qualified full cabinet slate.  The above reports also contain many instances of behavior that are against democratic ideals: for the Democratic Party to chose a candidate from its own small circle of nine Legislative Councilors; to recommend other parties to enter the election in order to 'use it as a bargaining chip with the government to wrangle some government appointments for their members'; the Schadenfreud in making a scandalous exhibit of Hong Kong to the world.  While it is understandable that these things must be learned through practice, are they actually trying to learn here?

Here is a bit of a sideshow about media coverarge.

First, we have the story 3/24/2005 story in SCMP by Gary Cheung:

Henry Tang says next chief must be a patriot

Financial Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen yesterday highlighted the need for the next chief executive to be patriotic and have the ability to improve governance.

Speaking at a luncheon hosted by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Mr Tang also cited honesty and accountability as requirements for the job. 

"The best way to run in [an] election is to do what is right and be conscientious. Certainly, it would be necessary to be patriotic, love your country and Hong Kong," he said.

Mr Tang said candidates for the top job needed to have proven administrative abilities to improve governance.

I come away with the impression that this man is fronting for the Chinese Communist Party demanding fealty from the candidates.

Next, I look at the coverage of the same event in Ming Pao (3/24/2005):

Henry Tang Lists The Six Requirements To Become Chief Executive

Financial Secretary Henry Tang, who has already announced that he would not be interested for Chief Excutive, spoke yesterday at a Hong Kong Chamber of Commerce  luncheon and said that the Chief Executive should have six requirements: to insist on what one believes is right, to have a conscience, to be honest, to be responsible, to love the country and Hong Kong and to have ability to govern Hong Kong.


A person in the audience posed this amusing question: "My friend Simon intends to run for the Chief Executive in the year 2047.  What advice can you give him?"  Henry Tang replied: "This seems more likely to be your son than your friend."  He then said: To run for the Chief Executive, one should insist on what one believes is right, to have a conscience, to have a high degree of honesty, to be willing to accept responsiblity, to love the country and Hong Kong, and to have the ability to administer and govern Hong Kong.

Six requirements, separate and equal to each other.  So why did SCMP choose to highlight PATRIOTISM above all else?  I report,  you decide.