Qualities the best CE candidate must have

Updated: 2017-02-13 07:45

By Chan Tak-leung(HK Edition)

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Chan Tak-leung says the best CE candidate must not only have proven leadership skills, but be able to work with a diverse group of stakeholders and maximize opportunities a rising China presents

Five candidates have declared interest in joining the race to become Hong Kong's fourth Chief Executive. However, since the nomination period is from Feb 14 to March 1, there is still ample time for one or two more candidates to make up their minds, count up their supporters and join the race at the last minute for the top job in the special administrative region.

It is therefore much too early to put our bets on who the eventual winner will be as we are still uncertain as to who will eventually be the candidates. Furthermore, candidates who have declared already would need to receive the required minimum of 150 signatures from Election Committee (EC) members so their nomination forms can be validated. The field is still wide open as some of the declared candidates might not even be eligible to have their names on the ballot paper on March 26 if they fail to collect sufficient signatures.

Qualities the best CE candidate must have

What one can do now, however, is to ask EC members and the constituents in their respective sectors to carefully examine the essential qualities expected of the next CE. This process of scrutiny is needed as the eventual winner is required to serve and represent the SAR with integrity and dedication.

To begin with, we are fully aware that all CE candidates are required to make a statutory declaration confirming they will uphold the Basic Law of the Hong Kong SAR of the People's Republic of China and pledge allegiance to the HKSAR. Wholehearted support for the "One Country, Two Systems" policy and the Basic Law are therefore critical commitments from candidates aspiring to be the next CE. As a matter of fact, based on recent events, one realizes that this criterion is also relevant to all those who hold public office and also serve the interests of citizens in the SAR.

Secondly, the person elected as CE, according to the Basic Law, is accountable to the central government and the SAR. It is therefore of paramount importance that EC members must satisfy themselves that the nominees they support will take this obligation seriously. Not to mention that each nominee must possess personal characteristics of confidence, truthfulness and authority so once elected, he or she can deal with local issues fairly and proficiently while promoting Hong Kong's best interests to the central government and other stakeholders.

Thirdly, under the Basic Law, the CE is the head of the government of the SAR. Demonstrable and proven leadership skills, one would expect, are essential qualities the new CE must have in abundance. No doubt the SAR would need someone who would be able to appoint, oversee and manage appropriate senior public officers to ensure the civil service will implement agreed legislation, policies and services appropriately and effectively.

Fourthly, the CE is supported by an Executive Council; it's the council's duty to assist the CE in policymaking. The new CE, therefore, must have the ability and diligence to appoint proficient Executive Council members who will in turn offer their valuable advice throughout his or her tenure.

Fifthly, it has been patently obvious that the bilateral relationship between the executive and the legislative arms in Hong Kong has not exactly been rosy over the past few years. EC members must support a candidate who would have the necessary political, diplomatic and communication skills to improve this relationship from day one of taking office.

Undoubtedly one would expect all potential CE candidates will be familiar with the Basic Law. It goes without saying that they should subscribe to and defend the principles that established Hong Kong as an SAR in the first place.

Rights and freedoms of its citizens and a high degree of autonomy enjoyed by the SAR must be safeguarded at all times. Strengthening the rule of law and independence of the judiciary, protecting and improving the livelihoods of its citizens, enhancing the SAR's status as a global financial, trade, high-tech, hospitality and cultural center are essential tasks that should be at the top of the new CE's in-tray.

Hong Kong has, without a doubt, undergone considerable changes over the past 20 years. EC members must put the SAR's future into perspective and support the candidate who can capitalize on Hong Kong's strengths and China's emerging global role. With its unique and strategic position and status, Hong Kong will need to maintain its success with a CE who can maximize opportunities generated by the nation with initiatives such as the Shanghai-Hong Kong and Shenzhen-Hong Kong stock connects, the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank, Belt and Road Initiative and many other infrastructure, financial and economic policies.

Enough has been said, now is the time to listen, reflect, assess, evaluate and make an important and informed choice for the benefit of all Hong Kong citizens.

(HK Edition 02/13/2017 page8)