• Sun
  • Aug 31, 2014
  • Updated: 12:28am
NewsHong Kong

Is there a pan-democrat Beijing would allow to run?

It's the big question in reform debate, and one name crops up regularly - Anthony Cheung

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 April, 2014, 4:18am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 April, 2014, 8:50am

The prospects for electoral reform do not look rosy, with Beijing and the pan-democratic camp at odds over the meaning of the simple phrase, "love the country, love Hong Kong".

That's the sentence with which top mainland officials have summarised the central government's basic requirement for any chief executive candidate.

But while debate rages over barely understood technicalities like "public nomination" and "block voting", the question many want answered is much more straightforward: what candidate - if any - with a democratic background would be acceptable to Beijing? And would it be too much to ask that they do a good job of running the city if elected?

It's a question that has crystallised since Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing, a veteran Beijing loyalist, observed that unless the lack of trust between the capital and the pan-democrats was resolved, the technicalities were moot.

It will take a candid talk between both sides ... to build trust
Jasper Tsang Yok-sing

A feasible solution to that issue of trust would be to ensure a candidate acceptable to both camps could enter the race.

One such person, according to someone close to the government, is Professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung, the secretary for transport and housing.

Cheung, a former vice-chairman of the Democratic Party and one-time political scientist at City University, chaired the political group Meeting Point, which merged with the United Democrats in 1994 to form the Democratic Party.

Known for his moderate stance on political and social issues, Cheung was ousted from the vice-chairmanship by the party's radicals, known as the Young Turks, in 1998. He quit the party in 2004. He was appointed an executive councillor in 2005 and became president of the Institute of Education in 2007.

"The fact that the central government approved Cheung's appointment as a minister is an indication of Beijing's trust in him," the government-connected person said on condition of anonymity.

Tsang said in January that none of the tabled electoral reform proposals could bridge the divide between Beijing and pan-democrats.

"It will take a candid talk between both sides, where each shares their anxiety, to build trust and narrow the divide," he said in an interview with the South China Morning Post.

A lawmaker loyal to Beijing said Cheung was up to the job.

"He is one of the few ministers to do his job well," said the lawmaker, who is a member of the Housing Authority chaired by Cheung.

A veteran pan-democrat agreed that Cheung would be one of the few people acceptable to Beijing if he ran in the chief executive race.

Asked whether the minister was interested in running for chief executive or willing to stay in the administration beyond 2017, Cheung's press secretary said: "Professor Cheung has committed to serving the current term government until June 2017. He has not made any commitment to be in government beyond 2017."

Meanwhile, buzz has already started over which pan-democrats could become ministers in a post-2017 government. Names frequently mentioned include Undersecretary for the Environment Christine Loh Kung-wai and Community Care Fund chairman Dr Law Chi-kwong.

The person close to the government said Loh, who belonged to the pan-democratic camp when she was a lawmaker in the 1990s, had the potential to become a minister.

Loh would not comment on whether she was willing to stay in the government beyond 2017. With regards to Law, Federation of Trade Unions lawmaker Wong Kwok-kin said the fund chairman was "smart and non-partisan" when he sat on statutory bodies.

But he added: "Political reform is more about building the system than talking about who is acceptable and who is not."

A pro-establishment politician who is on good terms with pan-democrats suggested the democrats could support a candidate they considered acceptable to run in the 2017 chief executive election in return for a more flexible electoral system.

"By promising not to field their own representative in the 2017 election, pan-democrats could press the central government to pledge a less stringent nomination threshold," the politician said.


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This article is now closed to comments

Why does Beijing not solve the problem once and for all by directly appointing a governor to administer Hong Kong, like Britain did prior to 1997? Hong Kong cannot be deemed under Chinese sovereignty if Beijing accepts anything less than what the Brits had. It is sham sovereignty and excessive autonomy that is not much different from independence. Beijing should be ashamed for accepting such lesser status regarding HK governance.
At least it would be open and honest that they were lying and continue to lie about what they agreed under the Sino-British Declarations and the Basic Law. Or did you Beijing sycophants forget that the masters actually made binding agreements? Don't you have boots to lick?
The candidates suggested, especially cheung bin leung may indeed be suitable choices. They are both gentle in terms of political views and capable of handling political affairs.
It is hoped that they will run the election in 2017 so as to build a city with democracy while not irritating the Central government.
sudo rm -f cy
As long as we keep talking in terms of "allow to run", we're not going to go anywhere.
Yeah right,............ go and bring out fat-boy Albert Ho again or maybe even the old hag Emily Lau.......they should be likely candidates..........hahaahahah...........
To me, what is really shameful is the pan-democrats who fail to put forward a proper candidate who has the capability and popularity to be a serious contender. They are satisfied in continuing the seat in Legco, they are not preparing to give a hard fight but simply talk and act stupidly for their own benefits and worst of all, they are not prepared to govern and there is no serious policy proposal other than those ideologyl. As the Legco councilor , I would expect they will take a helicopter view to drive HK forward at the best interest of public but what I can see is they are behaving as the district councilor by pleasing the district while iginoring the key problem HK is facing as in the case of dumping ground and incinerator. It is a real disaster to HK democracy when those councilors, both pan-democrats and pro-government camp, are simply political actors who make a living by occupying the Legco seat.
I agree that this article is shameful in the sense that it puts a legitimate tone to Beijing denying pan-democrats the right to be nominated. However, as things stand, it is wishful thinking to believe that Beijing would budge. I always believe that Beijing should not merely disallow 'whoM' and 'whom' to be nominated and instead groom their own candidates that are perhaps less radical and MORE acceptable to the people of HK. So far, neither party has shown any willingness to compromise and that does not bode well for HK.
The entire article is a disgraceful Party propaganda piece designed to move the debate into an arena of meek acceptance of illegal interference in Hong Kong affairs by Beijing. Shame on you, Tanna Chong and SCMP.


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