Saturday, 2 January 2010

On Selection of Chief Executive in 2012

Given the decision by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress that the Chief Executive will be selected by universal suffrage in 2017, I do not think adding the so-called "democratic elements" in the selection method in 2012 will be of any benefit or significance. Rather, I suggest that the Government should focus on public education to encourage voter registration and voting at the first popular election of the Chief Executive in 2017. A period of five years is barely enough to transform the long-standing scepticism and reverse the rising political polarisation among the people of Hong Kong. Yet I believe a good understanding of what voting is all about and active participation is crucial to the success of any election. Drilling on the operational details of elections will only discourage voters from exercising their legitimate power - if that is essentially what the Government and Beijing authorities intend to do.

There are a number of reasons to my negative view on the methods of selecting the Chief Executive in 2012. For one thing, the current composition and membership of the Election Committee is far too limited and dominated by the privileged class. Members of the Election Committee are not accountable to the registered voters in Hong Kong. At the same time, Hong Kong voters have no right to elect their representatives to the Election Committee. They have only extremely limited access to members of the Election Committee to express their concerns. There is also no way to ensure that the Election Committee members have done their job to voice out public views on matters related to Hong Kong, let alone to review their performance and take actions accordingly.

More importantly, there is no logical link between an expanded small-group election and universal suffrage. The Consultation Document does not provide any blueprint on how the expanded electorate and representation of the Election Committee can help facilitate the universal suffrage in 2017. Pardon me for being blunt, but making such a claim without substantiation is improper and irresponsible.

A number of current members of the Election Committee and potential candidates under the handicapped system have always been intimidated by popular polls because they know too well that they would have a slim chance of clinging onto their current positions and privileges in elections by universal suffrage. So does the Government mean expanding the electorate will help prepare them for popular elections? Given the great differences between the current system and elections by universal suffrage, to what extent does the electorate have to be expanded to achieve this objective? As mentioned earlier, the current electorate of the Election Committee is appallingly narrow and the election mechanism is flawed. Why bother to invest time, energy and resources into something that would be done only once and for all? Public resources are always stretched and, as a taxpayer, I truly believe there is plenty of better alternatives in which such resources can be invested for significantly more effective results.

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