Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

Securing rule of law in HK

By Leung Kwokleung (China Daily) Updated: 2014-09-02 07:46

Then there is the debate over the number of candidates allowed to vie for each public office. This is a very tough decision for designers of election rules around the world, because they have to ensure a winner is returned in one round of voting (for the sake of public resources) and the winner is supported by more than half of the voters (for the sake of democratic principles). As a matter of fact, that is why the existing electoral system in the United States has been such an embarrassment to US citizens and democratic societies in general, thanks to the much-loathed Electoral Institute. Many in the US want to change the electoral system, but no one has been able to come up with a workable substitute. There is no telling how long they will have to live with the shame it inflicts.

This is also true with the question of how many candidates are necessary for the chief executive election. It is not a matter of shutting out "pan-democrats", because it is ultimately up to the their candidates themselves to win the support of the majority of nominating committee members. Some people may assume that the "pan-democrats" have no chance as long as the nominating committee is dominated by "pro-Beijing" figures. Does that mean the "pan-democrats" are mindful of nothing but opposing the central authorities?

That is why countries around the world invariably allow just enough candidates to satisfy the democratic principle of genuine and fair competition. If there are too many candidates, it not only puts a strain on public resources, it also leads to "miscarriages" that adversely affect social stability. Any candidates put forward by the "pan-democrats" who have what it takes to be the chief executive need not fear the "threshold" of nomination or the nominating committee itself. Only those with a guilty conscience should be afraid, such as those who took money from outside parties and agreed to serve their interests in return.

It is perhaps worth mentioning that is was widely believed and mentioned in the media many times that two senior officials who served in the colonial government would not survive the handover unscathed, but one of them not only kept his position in the SAR government, he also got promoted and went on to become the chief executive. The "pan-democrats" should realize that the central government does not label them unless they give Beijing a good reason to do so. The fact is the central authorities believe most members of the "pan-democrats" camp love the nation and Hong Kong. Those who see themselves as such and are determined to excel in public office should be confident that opportunity will present itself when they are ready.

The author is a veteran journalist based in Hong Kong.

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