Government officers count ballots for the Election Committee poll on September 20. Photo: Sam Tsang
Alice Wu
Alice Wu

Hong Kong’s Election Committee embarrassment shows that, above all, execution matters

  • The government might have all the political backing, technology and strategies to ensure success, but that means nothing if it drops the ball
  • All the opportunities in the Greater Bay Area and capitalising on Hong Kong’s unique role are just empty talk unless the border reopens
The new and improved electoral system that Beijing has tailor-made for Hong Kong hardly got off to a flying start. Rather, it began with a litany of errors that meant it took 14 hours after the polls had closed to count 4,380 votes for only 13 subsectors.
The level of incompetence required for that to happen is shockingly high, and this was after Vice-Premier Han Zheng called on Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor to ensure the elections went smoothly. It’s not every day that Hongkongers get to hear Lam apologise.
Despite all the praise for the elections from the central government liaison office in the city, calling them a “ solid and genuine step in advancing democracy and good governance” and one that had Hong Kong “characteristics”, the world knows that such inefficiency is uncharacteristic of this city. It was the most elementary of failures: execution.

An electronic voter register was put into use for the first time, and it ended up slowing down the process. Voting-related documents were not transported properly from Point A to Point B. Most jaw-dropping of all was the fact that ballot paper was not fed into the optical mark recognition machines correctly.

The paper jams are a telling reminder that, if we are serious about getting things done and resolving our long-standing problems, and if our leaders – here or up north – want to see their visions realised, it all boils down to execution. There is no leaving it to fate. The paper will not feed itself.


How does Hong Kong select its government?

How does Hong Kong select its government?
There was only one “opposition” member elected to the Election Committee. Tik Chi-yuen is a centrist, posing no threat to Hong Kong’s next chief executive achieving their grand plans.
But as the government has learned, it might have all the political backing, technological support and strategies to ensure success, but that means nothing if it drops the ball through poor execution. All that talk about the opportunities in the Greater Bay Area and Hong Kong’s role in the country’s 14th five-year plan translates to little when there is no execution.

At a symposium on the latest five-year plan, hosted by the Federation of Hong Kong Guangdong Community Organisations last week, former chief executive Leung Chun-ying spoke at length on the importance of implementation and execution. As if on cue, Leung was asked what he would do about opening borders if he could be chief executive again.

It’s a good question. (Leung said he’d increase the vaccination rate.) All those opportunities in the Greater Bay Area, advantages of integration and capitalising on the unique role Hong Kong plays in the country’s development are just empty talk unless Hongkongers can get there.
Greater Bay Area project will not make Hong Kong mainlandised, says Carrie Lam
We are seeing the politicking picking up now, with people being critical of Lam, rather than by staging open protests. As more potential chief executive candidates emerge, there will be more political posturing and taking sides. All this coincides with those planning to run in the Legislative Council election in December.

It is crucial not to let the chief executive election overshadow and mar the Legco poll. Legco contenders must put forward policy ideas of their own. If the Legco election turns out to be a contest about which chief executive candidate has more political backing, then the election’s purpose and meaning will be lost. It is the legislature’s duty to scrutinise bills and demand government accountability.

It is this process that ensures strategies and plans fit the needs of the public and the different sectors the legislators represent, and that these policy initiatives hit the ground running.

‘Majority support’ among Democratic Party members for Hong Kong election boycott

Beijing must have taken notice of the ridiculous number of candidates for the Election Committee who failed to even fill in their manifesto.

It might be laziness or shrewdness on their part to not make their political belief or stance known, but not being forthcoming about something as basic as their platform is bad for political accountability. Such omissions do not translate into being fully supportive of Beijing’s electoral overhauls.

Alice Wu is a political consultant and a former associate director of the Asia Pacific Media Network at UCLA