Waves of enthusiasm
So far the response has been better than even Beijing can have dared hope. Only two days into the nomination period for membership of the 400-strong Selection Committee, more than 8,000 forms have been distributed.
That is more than the total number of applications the Preparatory Committee expects to receive by the time nominations close on September 14, and shows the extent of popular interest in participating in a process by which Hong Kong will, for the first time, be given some say in the selection of its leader.
Even if the level of interest begins to fade, after this initial wave of enthusiasm, more than enough forms have been distributed to ensure that those nominated reflect all sectors of Hong Kong, as required by the Basic Law. This states the Selection Committee must be 'broadly representative' of the community.
The burden of ensuring this occurs rests with the Preparatory Committee, which will choose the 340 successful nominees, the remaining 60 seats being reserved for delegates to the National People's Congress and Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.
But, at this stage, the only cloud on the horizon is the civil service unions' misguided attempt to challenge the government guidelines that bar some of their members from being nominated. While they are doubtless motivated by a genuine wish to participate in the process, the main effect has been to distract attention from the enthusiasm of the past few days. The unions are doing no one any favours by pursuing an issue which should now be regarded as closed. They would serve the community better by dropping their case, so allowing people to concentrate on choosing its chief executive.