Leung gets the luck of the draw
The draw may have been random but the result was an accurate reflection of their popularity at a weekend forum on green issues.
When Mr Justice Jeremy Poon Shiu-chor, the returning officer for the March 25 chief executive race, pulled the names of the three contenders from one box and the slots on the ballot paper from another yesterday, each candidate's place coincided with their relative public opinion ranking among attendees at the Saturday forum.
Taking top spot on the ballot paper was former Executive Council convenor Leung Chun-ying, with pan-democratic candidate Albert Ho Chun-yan second and former chief secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen third.
Scandal-plagued Tang was quick to dismiss suggestions that the draw mirrored his popularity compared with his rivals.
'It was a random draw. Three is a quite good number. The number plate of one of my cars is '3388',' he smiled.
Leung refused to be drawn on the result.
Yesterday's draw, held at the Central Library in Causeway Bay, also determined where in the city each candidate could post his election advertisements.
Tang, once tipped as Beijing's favourite for the city's top job, secured just 2 per cent of the vote in a poll of 500 members of the public and green campaigners at the forum.
Leung, constantly leading in surveys since declaring his candidacy, took 63 per cent of the audience vote, followed by Ho with 23 per cent.
Tang argued that he was told all three of them performed similarly well at the forum.
That event marked the candidates' first public appearance together and was a chance for them all to respond to audience questions on key environmental areas.
Earlier in the day, National People's Congress Standing Committee member Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai said in Beijing that the election was no longer a 'gentlemen's competition'.
Tang declined to comment on Fan's remarks, saying only that he agreed with Ho and one-time hopeful Tsang Yok-sing that the race was full of scandals targeting candidates.
'It has seriously hampered the professionalism and credibility of the election. It has also led to a stronger call among the public for universal suffrage,' he said. 'The election should get back to the right track.'