The chief executive race needs strong candidates and good competition

Retired appeal court judge Woo Kwok-hing is to be commended for throwing his hat in the ring

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 29 October, 2016, 1:36am
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 October, 2016, 1:36am

Whoever thinks the chief executive election next March is a foregone conclusion may be intrigued by the latest development. With Leung Chun-ying keeping everyone guessing about his possible re-election bid, retired appeal court judge Woo Kwok-hing launched his campaign in a surprise move on Thursday. Meanwhile, speculation about Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah has deepened, and legislator and executive councillor Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee has also renewed her interest in the top job. The race is, finally, heating up.

That there appears to be a wider spectrum of aspirants is to be welcomed. The first chief executive election in 1996 saw four contestants coming forward. In 2002, there was not even a vote after Tung Chee-hwa secured enough nominations to be re-elected uncontested. The last two races were confined to two and three candidates.

Retired judge pulls no punches as he launches bid for Hong Kong’s top job

Woo is to be commended for coming forward during such challenging times. The 70-year-old is no stranger to the community. Having served in the judiciary and a number of public offices, including as head of the electoral affairs body and the statutory watchdog for covert surveillance by law enforcers, he has earned a reputation as a righteous and impartial figure. But the retired judge has yet to prove his ability in government administration. His governance philosophy and political views have remained largely unknown to the people until recently. The public needs to know more about his full policy platforms, including housing as well as economic and social development.

It goes without saying that the chief executive should be competent, acceptable to different sectors in society and, above all, have the trust of both the public and the central government. As the bridge between Hong Kong and Beijing, the leader shall be held accountable to both sides. He or she is to tackle a raft of political, economic and social problems. It is also incumbent upon the chief executive to implement one country, two systems in a way that will enhance not only Hong Kong’s stability and prosperity, but also national sovereignty, security and development. Whether the aspirants can fulfil the requirements will be closely followed by the people and Beijing.

Now that the curtain on the chief executive race has been raised, the public are looking forward to seeing more strong candidates. It is to be hoped that there will be genuine competition to choose the best leader.