The appointment of a Selection Committee broadly representative of the community should be of concern to everyone. The Preparatory Committee does not regard the selectors' role as choosing the most popular figures for Chief Executive and provisional legislators and is unlikely to choose a Selection Committee on populist grounds alone. But it is vital for the credibility of the selection process that its members should command support as widely as possible. So the public's confidence - expressed in a South China Morning Post survey reported yesterday - that the Preparatory Committee will choose wisely is encouraging. It is well understood that China will follow President Jiang Zemin's call for 'iron-clad control' over at least 201 seats and would not permit the appointment of a Selection Committee which might ultimately reject its choice of candidate. But the assurance of Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen that he is ready to discuss Hong Kong affairs with those who disagree on the pace of democratic development means there is scope for dissenting opinion on the committee. Nothing would give the Chief Executive a worse start than the impression of having been elected by a group hand-picked for the conformism of its opinions. If Hong Kong people cherish the promise of a high degree of autonomy they must express their opinions even where the real scope for autonomous decision-making is circumscribed. The belief that the Preparatory Committee, of which Mr Qian is also the chairman, will choose well from the thousands of applications it is likely to receive is a sign that message has been taken on board. The public also wants the Selection Committee to be monitored. An overwhelming 78.7 per cent of the interviewees in the survey said an independent body should be formed to ensure the appointment of the Chief Executive is conducted fairly. One way to do so would be to include in the monitoring group both members of the Preparatory Committee and a number of respected outsiders, such as the Chairman of the Bar Association. Such a group would do much to boost public confidence in the committee's final choice.