Hong Kong chief executive aspirants should stop being coy – and declare their candidacy
Alice Wu says the fevered speculation over who would run in the upcoming chief executive election – and the shadow play in the background between the major players – is draining, and must stop
Now that the so-called ABC campaign – “Anyone but CY” – is a non-issue, how long can seemingly non-committal potential candidates for the 2017 chief executive election hold out? The charade of pretending not to be a chief executive wannabe is tiresome. It’s outright deceptive, in fact, when aspirants do little to douse the flames that fuel the speculation.
With Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying ruling himself out of the race, there are still two possible candidates holding on to their government jobs. Yet another has actively created noise for speculation, scheduling “an important event” this Thursday.
The public has been left out in the cold long enough, and the back-stabbing behind the scenes – all done apparently to win Beijing’s “blessing” – has gone on for far too long. Hong Kong is politically fatigued, and our patience has worn thin. It would not be untrue to say that a lot of us can’t wait for the chief executive election to be over.
Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai, the former Legislative Council president and current member of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, recently looked into her crystal ball to predict that the upcoming fight would be ungentlemanly. We expect people to get down and dirty, just as happened five years ago. With more rumoured contenders this time, this election has all the signs of degenerating into something bloodier. Many would say that it already is.
The political storm over snubbing and then not snubbing lawmakers was the ugliest behind-the-scenes politics we’ve seen. It isn’t so much that we can’t stomach rough play in politics. Rather, we don’t care for the constant reminder that our future is being held hostage by the whims and fancies of the few.
When evasive possible candidates play cloak and dagger on the public’s dime, it is time for Beijing to call a “time out”, and for the rest of us to scream, “Enough already! Just quit your government job, get off the public payroll and get on with the campaigning!” If you are going to be more focused on playing “red-light, green-light” with each other instead of focusing on the work of governing Hong Kong, then go and play elsewhere.
By doing this, they are not serving this city “conscientiously, dutifully, in full accordance with the law, honestly and with integrity,” as they vowed to do in their oaths when they took office.
The Oaths and Declarations Ordinance not only applies to disqualified lawmakers; it applies to those who have gone out of their way to disqualify them.
Hongkongers, except for the 1,200 members of the Election Committee, are exasperated. It reinforces the very helplessness we feel at being left out of the political process. And it fuels the bitterness and frustrations that have been the undercurrents in our society in recent years, eroding the trust between the central government and those residing in the special administrative region.
What is worse, all the posturing has not even been done for our benefit. We have to suffer through all that noise, and yet, we are not the intended audience.
As much of a turn-off as political pandering is, to know that those who have remained silent are simply appealing for Beijing’s nod – not ours – is doubly insulting. If the biggest challenge for the next chief executive is in winning over the people, then this grand display of unabashedly elitist politics is hardly going to help their cause. Instead, they will have to deal with the rise of angry populism.
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One of the rumoured possible contenders recently wrote on his blog about the importance of unity and reconciliation in our highly polarised and divisive society. That is true. Hong Kong needs less polarising and divisive leaders.
And since he made a spectacle of himself earlier by borrowing from Shakespeare, here, I give him some more of the Bard’s words, from Othello, to chew on: Mere prattle without practice.
Alice Wu is a political consultant and a former associate director of the Asia Pacific Media Network at UCLA