Why Enter The Hong Kong CE Election?

(Apple Daily)  Why Enter the Hong Kong Chief Executive Election?  By Lo Chi-kin (盧 子 健 ) (public affairs consultant).  April 28, 2006.

[in translation]

The democrats say that they want to compete for positions in the college of electors.  This has caused much commentary from various sectors of society.  Among the democrats, some believe that they should not participate in small circle elections such as those for the Chief Executive or the college of electors.

With the pro-China forces, some people think that the democrats are contradicting themselves.  At the end of last year, the democrats in the Legislative Council put a stop to the political reform package on the basis that expanding the college of electors was too distant from the idea of universal suffrage.  Based upon that reasoning, the democrats should not be contesting for positions in the college of electors.

There are also people who think that it is actually beneficial to Donald Tsang for the democrats to actively contest to get into the college of electors.  If the college of electors becomes more representative, then it will enhance the representativeness of Donald Tsang when this college elects him later.  Besides, if the democrats successfully nominate a candidate, it will only make those electors who don't particularly like Donald Tsang but who are very dissatisfied with the democrats to unite and support him.  If Tsang is the sole nominee, then these people might cast a vote of no confidence or a null vote.

I believe that the majority of Hong Kong people will be happy to see the democrats get more than 100 positions in the college of electors and then successfully nominate a candidate.  Common citizens do not get the chance to elect the Chief Executive.  If there is some competition, it will make the election more exciting.  The citizens can go through media and public opinion to evaluate the candidates and derive some satisfaction.  Therefore, no matter whether the logic of the democrats is contradictory or not, their active participation in the elections of the college of electors and the Chief Executive will receive public support.

But the public support will not automatically extend to supporting the performance of the democrats in the election.  Last year, the Democratic Party sent Lee Wing-tat to participate in the Chief Executive election.  The citizens did not oppose his participation, but they also did not respond enthusiastically or gave him high marks.

No matter whether the critics' opinions are reasonable or not, the democrats must also work out the logical basis of their participation in the election of the Chief Executive.  This is not about responding to their critics; this is about making a clear presentation to their supporters and the citizens.

Simply put, the leaders of the democrats should state the reason for entering the Chief Executive election.

The most logical motive for entering an election is to win.  But based upon the current process by which the college of electors is produced, the chances are remote for the democrats to win.  But no matter what the chances are, winning is a logical motive.

If the democrats' goal in entering the Chief Executive election is really to win, then two issues must be considered.  First, they must find a candidate who can maximize the number of votes from the electors.  Second, they must face a question: If they accepted the political reform package last year, wouldn't the election prospects of the candidate supported by the democrats be higher now?

Since the likelihood of the democrats winning is small, the purpose of the participation in the election may be to expose the limits and absurdity of the college of electors.  Last year, the Democratic Party entered the election and could have achieved the same result.  But the actual result was unremarkable.  First of all, the candidate was unappealing and did not draw public attention.  Second, even though the likelihood of winning was small and the democrats seemed to be serious, the element of absurdity was missing and so the whole show becomes quite boring.

Therefore, if the democrats really want to expose the absurdity of the current electoral system, then they must find an exceptional candidate and then employ exaggerated methods.

If the democrats choose this path, they may have to answer a question: wouldn't a refusal to participate be even better at exposing the absurdity of the electoral system?  In 2001 and 2005, both elections involved only one candidate who received 700 or so votes (out of 800).  Do you think that the people of Hong Kong still don't understand that this is a meaningless election?

Participation in the Chief Executive election can have another reasonable goal: to promote the policy platform of the democrats, even to the point of forcing the elected person to adopt some of the contents in that platform.  In foreign countries, this is the reason why some people enter into elections even though they are unlikely to win.

The problem is that the democrats do not have a common policy platform.  On certain policies about society, economy and living conditions, they have different positions.  Within the democrats, no organization has a complete policy platform.  If there is one, now is the time to promote it; there is no need to wait for the Chief Executive election.  If there isn't one now, then it won't be easy to come up with such a platform in a short time.

The simple concept of entering the election involves a number of controversial issues.  Having problems is not frightening in itself, but the leaders of the democrats ought to confront them, conduct public discussions and let the public understand their thought process.  This way, the democrats can become stronger and more mature from the election of the Chief Executive.