Chief executive rivals baulk at change to debate rules

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 10 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 10 March, 2012, 12:00am

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A media debate between the three chief executive candidates is in doubt after organisers changed the rules about questioning.

The change by the organiser, representing 11 electronic media, is in the 'cross-fire' session, where candidates would have the chance to directly question their rivals.

Under rules presented to each camp on Thursday, when a candidate asked another a question, the third candidate could also speak. But the organiser decided yesterday to stop the third person from jumping in after considering technical issues, such as overlapping voices and timing, said May Chan Suk-mei, director of news and public affairs for Commercial Radio.

All three camps and the organiser were expected to sign a memorandum to confirm the debate rules yesterday, but it was put off after hours of discussion. Representatives of Henry Tang Ying-yen and Albert Ho Chun-yan said they would reconsider their attendance if the organiser insisted on the change.

The Democratic Party's Sin Chung-kai said the new rule was unacceptable. Allowing the third candidate to jump in would give the public a better idea of the candidates' abilities, he said.

'We have two days to think about [whether Ho will attend], but today, we can't accept it,' he said.

A spokeswoman for Tang said he would also rethink his decision to attend. 'It's more appropriate to have interactions between the three candidates,' she said.

'Although we had reservations about allowing the third to jump in at the beginning, we are now convinced it's the best to let the candidates interact freely.'

A spokeswoman for Leung said the camp would accept the organiser's plan.

Chan said the version presented to the candidates yesterday was final and she could not understand why they would reject the new rule.

'It won't make the debate less fair,' she said. 'If three candidates speak at the same time, the radio audience will be lost.'

Candidates will debate governance and integrity, and economic and political issues in the two-hour forum on Friday at RTHK's Broadcasting House in Kowloon Tong.

The University of Hong Kong or Lingnan University will help the organiser randomly select 150 members of the public to attend. They will be able to pose questions to the candidates at the debate.

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Lisa Kuo Yu-chin gave this rating to her husband, Henry Tang, on a 100-point scale. Tong Ching-yee gave her husband, CY Leung, 100