Pan-dems have the votes, but will they use them wisely?
In Hong Kong’s leadership race, pan-dems must make a choice: field their own candidate who is most unlikely to win, or back a candidate they can work with
Will there be a pan-democratic candidate in the chief executive race? The opposition seems to be changing their tune lately.
Originally, it was a definite no. Now, it sounds like a maybe. There have been talks of getting maverick lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung on the ticket. But “Long Hair” is considered too extreme by many. I look forward to it, though, for the sheer entertainment value. Democratic icons Martin Lee Chu-ming and Audrey Eu Yuet-mee as well as Democrat James To Kun-sun have all reportedly declined to run when approached informally by political allies.
If Leung does run, though, he automatically opens himself up to charges of hypocrisy. He had rounded on not one but two pan-democrats for running in previous chief executive elections: Alan Leong Kah-kit of the Civic Party in 2007 and Democrat Albert Ho Chun-yan in 2012. His argument was that their participation lent support to an illegitimate “small-circle” election.
The latest buzz is that famed broadcaster Albert Cheng King-hon would consider running, if he could be guaranteed the minimum 150 votes from the Election Committee to get on the ticket. With the pan-democratic camp controlling more than 330 votes, there shouldn’t be a problem. It would be a mistake, though, for the pan-dems.
Cheng didn’t exactly have a stellar track record when he was an elected lawmaker. He is also known as “the Bowtie needle”, for his close association with former chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, who is now on trial for corruption and misconduct in public office.
More importantly, unlike previous chief executive elections, pan-democrats actually control more than a quarter of the total votes, enough to change the election outcome. They could waste their votes on a candidate of their own, or on retired judge Woo Kwok-hing, the darkest horse in the race. That would only increase the winning chances of Beijing’s favourite Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, who has already been called “the female CY” after the unpopular outgoing Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.
Realistically, the pan-dems on the committee could play kingmaker and make John Tsang chun-wah work hard to woo their votes. The former finance secretary would always be beholden to the central government. But, by establishing a good rapport and some mutual back-scratching, the pan-democrats as an opposition and Tsang as the chief executive could work together on many social and economic problems.