No candidate has voiced answers to Hong Kong’s core problems, but an inclusive mindset would be a start

Next leader needs to take a good look at city’s structures, which mean people have a lot to lose in a harmonious society

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 March, 2017, 12:08pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 23 March, 2017, 9:43pm

On Sunday Hong Kong will pick its next chief executive. Unfortunately not all of us can take part. The 1,194 Election Committee members, voted in from various sectors by 260,000 people, will pick the city’s next leader.

I saw the debates between the three chief executive candidates, former chief secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, former finance chief John Tsang Chun-wah and retired judge Woo Kwok-hing. All three have pledged to reunite the community – though they differ on the means – and get Hong Kong moving again.

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But the local political environment is getting more difficult; no candidate looks able to reunite the community, as people in some quarters would lose their influence and identity in a harmonious society, and can only keep them in a polarised one. It is a power struggle. I doubt any candidate can offer a solution.

We need to look hard at the current structures to resolve this deadlock, which has damaged the city’s development. And Hongkongers need to understand the situation so as not to be misled.

In her previous jobs, Lam was given a number of unpleasant tasks, including election reform and old-age pensions. Certainly, her approach could have been better, but I doubt the result could have been any different.

Tsang’s job seems to have been easier. But still he didn’t seize the opportunity by investing in education and training to meet future challenges.

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We need a leader to take charge, work hard and work smart as well. He or she needs to reach out to the public and provide solutions. So far, Hong Kong development has been hampered by a consistently poor financial forecast and lack of long-term resource commitment to deal with core issues in the last decade.

For example, various government departments outsourcing low-skilled jobs has been the most important factor contributing to income disparity and working poverty.

Lack of support for research and development in industry and universities is another running sore.

We are paying the price for inaction and falling behind to other neighbouring countries.

We have tried many times to persuade the government to make the necessary change without any success. I hope a future financial secretary can be more responsive in improving the quality of Hongkongers’ lives.

Whoever wins this election needs to be more inclusive in office, and accommodate others with different views. This mindset makes a real leader. More importantly, members of our community should put their differences behind them after the vote and join hands to rebuild Hong Kong and take it to new heights.

Finally, I hope we can cast our own vote for the chief executive in the near future.

Paul Yip is chair professor of the Social Work and Social Administration Department, University of Hong Kong