Rating Rita

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 21 May, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 21 May, 2011, 12:00am


The run for the city's top job has begun. Long-time Beijing loyalist Ng Hong-mun, in a Ming Pao article, gave his support to political heavyweight Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai, and said Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen and Executive Council convenor Leung Chun-ying would not pose serious threats to her potential bid to be chief executive. Ng believes Fan, Tang and Leung would make a 'dream team', with Tang staying as the No2 and Leung as financial secretary.

Ng's 'nomination' of Fan immediately boosted her chances, although she had earlier shown her reluctance to compete because of her age and poor health. With this kind of backing, it's natural for many to believe Fan is the chosen one. But, of course, it's never that straightforward.

Ng's strategic naming of Fan has achieved a number of purposes. On the face of it, he seems to be supporting the former president of the Legislative Council, but in fact the move is intended to eliminate another contender - Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah - in order to strengthen the positions of the Beijing-approved Tang and Leung.

Many people believe John Tsang doesn't really have a good chance, anyway.

But, the fundamental question remains: why choose Fan? The next chief executive will have to implement the contentious national security legislation plus a host of thorny issues such as the electoral methods for the 2016 legislative elections, the universal health care insurance scheme and the competition law. Furthermore, the next leader will have to fight for his or her survival when Hong Kong implements universal suffrage for the chief executive election in 2017.

In other words, no matter who wins, he or she is likely to have only one term. So, why not give it to someone like Fan who is willing to sit for one term.

The next chief executive will have to be extremely tough. Would Tang and Leung be willing to get their hands dirty?

And finally, would Fan's age and poor health be good reasons not to choose her?

Ng assumes Fan is the one Beijing wants because maintaining stability is important. But just because Fan can do the job doesn't mean she would be allowed to.

Fan has been known to make political advances in tumultuous times. Most recently, she spoke about governance issues just when the administration is tackling them.

Ng says popularity is Fan's biggest political advantage, which is a beautiful misunderstanding. All Legco presidents have high popularity ratings because the public respects whoever holds that position.

Some say that, when she was Legco president, Fan was good at handling and controlling rebellious Legco member 'Long Hair' Leung Kwok-hung. But that shouldn't be counted as something that qualifies her for the top job.

Most Hongkongers were touched by the fact that she donated one of her kidneys to her daughter years ago. But, again, being a great loving mother doesn't qualify her to be a great leader.

Albert Cheng King-hon is a political commentator. taipan@albertcheng.hk