Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The Race to Watch

The showdown is less than two months away and the race is heating up.

On December 2, Hong Kong will have a by-election for the Legislative Councillor seat left vacant by the death of former Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) Chairman Ma Lik.

And the two main candidates in the race are former Chief Secretary Anson Chan, and former Secretary for Security, Regina Ip.

Chan, known as "Hong Kong's conscience", had pondered the possibility of running against Donald Tsang for Chief Executive. She withdrew her name at the last minute and instead set up a think tank, believing this was an effective way of influencing government policy.

But now she says she believes the best way to create change, particularly in pushing for universal suffrage, is to actively participate in the political process.

Her main platform is getting Hong Kong full democracy by 2012, an idea that the mainland is not keen on.

While she probably has the popular vote, having publicly demonstrated in the streets to push for universal suffrage, Beijing doesn't trust her, as she used to work for Hong Kong's last governor, Chris Patten.

And directly at odds with her is Regina Ip. During her tenure as Secretary for Security, Ip tried to pass Article 23, which was supposed to be an anti-subversion law eerily leading towards a policed state.

That was when the first of many July 1 full-scale demonstrations began in 2003, with everyone from children to seniors, and students to professionals, flooded the streets of Hong Kong Island to protest against Ip and then Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa's leadership.

Eventually Tung shelved Article 23 and Ip resigned, licking her wounds by studying a post-graduate degree in California.

But now she hopes to make a political comeback. Ip also promises some kind of democracy, but doesn't elaborate much possibly due to her pro-Beijing stance. However, she is a bit of a wild card too, known for her outbursts and seemingly condescending comments. She once said: "Adolf Hitler was returned by universal suffrage, and he killed 7 million Jews."

While it might seem obvious who the winner will be, locals are saying the race will be too close to call.

Either way the results will determine how much Hong Kongers want universal suffrage. And Beijing will be watching the proceedings closely.

What's interesting is that there's hardly any news about this election race in mainland Chinese media. They probably don't want anyone to get any bright ideas...

1 comment:

ks said...

the two famous mrs. are politicall animals. they could have stayed home and enjoy life. but instaed they stick their head out and seek elction. it is good in some way but they should let the ordinay people to have a chance. with their high profile they more or less automatically win nomination within their own party.