Policy platforms of chief executive hopefuls are what matter

Instead of dwelling on candidates’ connections or image, the public should focus on their visions and promises for Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 December, 2016, 1:17am
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 December, 2016, 1:17am

As the chief executive race in March draws near, two hopefuls have thrown their hats into the ring along with their manifestos and platforms. We urge other aspirants to make an early decision and come up with detailed policies so as to stimulate a healthy debate on what it takes for Hong Kong to move forward.

Credit goes to Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee for producing a relatively comprehensive platform. Having served the government for decades, founded her policy think tank and is now a directly elected lawmaker, the New People’s Party chief has a solid background in public affairs. She shows a sense of pragmatism when addressing key issues, ranging from poverty, housing and economic challenges to Hong Kong-mainland relations, democratic reforms and government restructuring. They are what people expect of a serious contestant.

Regina Ip pledges to allow discussion of Hong Kong independence in schools, defend academic freedom

As the minister responsible for the unpopular national security legislation back in 2003, the Article 23 baggage is still weighing heavily on Ip. The pro-Beijing aspirant did not shy away from confessing her inadequacies in handling the matter when launching her campaign on Thursday. While her pledge to revive Article 23 and to adhere to Beijing’s framework for universal suffrage may not win her broad support, she understandably has to walk a fine line between Beijing and the local public.

Another hopeful Woo Kwok-hing is also working hard to garner support in his maiden campaign. The retired appeal court judge’s platform appears to be less well-rounded. It essentially focuses on the perceived problems with Leung Chun-ying’s governance. While some suggestions may appeal to those who are dissatisfied with the status quo, it remains to be seen how they can be put into practice.

Charting the rise and rebranding of a potential front-runner for chief executive

Unlike previous elections where aspirants sought to impress with a league of heavyweight supporters on stage, the launch ceremonies of Woo and Ip were relatively low-key. Woo was ridiculed for being idealistic and lacking broad support; while Ip was mocked for her “Win Back Hong Kong” slogan and logo.

Ultimately, what matter are visions and promises. Instead of dwelling on candidates’ connections or image, the public should focus on the platforms. Ip wasted no time criticising the fiscal policies of her potential rival John Tsang Chun-wah. The debate is set to become even more lively should Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and others also come forward. Hopefully, there will be more healthy discussions on the qualities of the future leader as well as the policies needed to take us forward.