Bauhinia Foundation in a quest for happiness

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 November, 2012, 4:42am

The Bauhinia Foundation Research Centre, top of the think-tank league under the previous government but struggling to retain its relevance under the new one, may just have come up with a way to make Chief Executive Leung Chin-ying take notice. It's thinking of launching a survey that will include a question that asks respondents whether they are happy with his administration.

Donald Li Kwok-tung - the think tank's new chairman, who said this week he hoped Leung would keep an open mind on policy suggestions from all sources - said the centre might create a "Happy Index" to find out what made people happy or unhappy. "Is it only because of housing that people are unhappy because they don't have their own home? [Or is it because] of the mainland-Hong Kong conflicts, or that they cannot get used to the new government? There are many things we can look into," Li said.

Ex-chief executive on hold for his new role

Not least amid among the prickly questions about how the new leadership line-up in Beijing will affect Hong Kong is the future of former chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen. Tsang, who has remained largely invisible since stepping down in July, was recently tipped to follow the steps of his predecessor, Tung Chee-hwa, to become a vice-chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference in the spring, after Tung moves to a different role. Such rumours went quiet before the opening of the 18th party congress earlier this month, but were reignited after Vice-President Xi Jinping was formally anointed as the head of the Communist Party of China. A fresh rumour even suggested that the committee might open a new vice-chairmanship for Tsang while Tung stayed on. Either way would be controversial. Xi has pledged to fight corruption in the party but Tsang's close ally, former chief secretary Rafael Hui Si-yan, is now embroiled in corruption allegations of his own. It would be a signal of disapproval if Tsang was not promoted. The job has little real power but compensations aplenty: it carries the rank of a state leader and comes with perks including bodyguards, a limousine and the best medical services Beijing can offer.

A new star rises for Democratic duty

As the Democratic Party, still smarting from its setback in the September Legco election, casts around for a new generation of leaders, a name has emerged as a possible chairman - as the previous favourite, Helena Wong Pik-wan, fades in the betting. Wu Chi-wai, 49, who was elected to the Kowloon East constituency two months ago, yesterday "would not rule out the probability" of becoming chairman after both young and veteran members encouraged him to seek the post next month.

"At this very moment, my answer is still, 'No, I won't do it,'" Wu said. "But never say never. If it will be good for the entire party's development, I will do my best to help."

Wu added that he wanted to focus on district work and he was worried that taking up the chairmanship could mean less time for his constituents, which in turn could cost him his seat. The chances of Wong, 53, getting the job have dimmed since a couple of wrong moves. First, she was criticised for accusing a pan-democrat group of helping a government-allied candidate win a district council by-election. Then she was said to have pressed the wrong button in a Legco vote, allowing a Civic Party motion to be voted down.