The first chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is supposed to be chosen by the selection committee, which will take another two months to be formed. People have been speculating for some time, however, that the choice for the head of the new government has already been made. The selection committee is a sham, say some commentators. When the time comes for naming the chief executive, the Chinese Government will reveal the 'chosen one', and the only part to play for the 400 members of the selection committee will be to show their approval with applause. These sceptics do not see any point in public discussions about who or what kind of person would be most suitable to head the first SAR government. According to them, there is little Hong Kong people can do but make guesses as to who Beijing has chosen for them. This was certainly the case for Hong Kong governors coming from the United Kingdom in the past. Hong Kong people had no say at all when the British Government made the appointments, and most of the governors were total strangers to the majority of the people in the territory when they first arrived. The principle of Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong after 1997 means that the SAR government must be constituted by local people, and the chief executive cannot be someone sent from Beijing. The Basic Law provides that the SAR head should ultimately be elected in Hong Kong by universal suffrage. For the first few terms, however, the person to fill the post shall be chosen by a body consisting of Hong Kong permanent residents. If Beijing had wanted to keep the power of picking the first chief executive of the SAR entirely in its hands, it could have done away with the idea of forming a committee in Hong Kong to make the choice. There would not have been too much opposition if the Chinese Government had insisted, when drafting the Basic Law, that it should make the decision by itself, in the same way as the British appointed Hong Kong governors. Indeed, even today there are many in the territory who believe it would save a lot of trouble and better ensure a smooth transfer of government if China appointed the SAR's first chief executive without leaving the choice to a body of local people. Beijing no doubt understands the importance of choosing someone who is acceptable to at least a majority of Hong Kong people. But to make sure that the choice is widely accepted it would not be necessary to form a selection committee. Chinese officials could themselves consult Hong Kong people, in public as well as in private, before making the final decision. This would still be much more open than the process of choosing a British governor. The selection committee will be formed so that the head of the SAR government may be chosen by local people right from the start. The body is composed of members from every sector of the community. It is meant to be widely representative, and Vice-Premier Qian Qichen has called on people with different views on Hong Kong's democratic development to join it. Of course the person chosen by the selection committee has to be acceptable to the Chinese Government. There is no chance of the committee picking someone Beijing would refuse to appoint, thereby creating a political crisis. But there can well be a number of candidates none of whom Beijing has any objection to, leaving the selection committee to decide on its own which one of them is the best choice.