With the process of official nomination to run in Hong Kong’s Chief Executive elections beginning on Valentines Day, the four presumptive candidates are doing their best to win the hearts and minds of the city’s people.
Presumably with the not so discrete backing of the Communist Party is Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, the former Chief Secretary for Administration is up against current front-runner John Tsang Chun-wah, the former Financial Secretary.
Pro-Beijing and New People’s Park chairwoman Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee has also thrown herself into the mix with many speculating that she is the Communist Party’s backup candidate if Carrie Lam was to be unsuccessful.
Also intending to run for Chief Executive or so he claims but doubted by many, is retired judge Woo Kwok Hing.
Former President of Hong Kong’s Legislative Council Jasper Tsang Yok-sing and radical pan-democratic legislator Leung Kwok-hung ‘Long Hair’ have been suggested as possible candidates but neither have announced their running.
Let’s take a quick look at where each of the presumptive candidates stand on some of Hong Kong’s important issues.
Carrie Lam: Housing is not a priority policy although having before alluded to the issue as one three major challenges for the Hong Kong government. She has been active in promoting sustainable development and urban renewal.
John Tsang: Being responsible for the Development Bureau when in government, he oversaw lang supply in Hong Kong which is in high demand. However he has distanced himself from outgoing Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s tough stamp duty policies.
Regina Ip: Would like the government to create a new lands development authority with a budget of $50 billion. She is also in favour of converting idle agricultural land and coastal lands outside of Victoria Harbour after land reclamation into public housing developments.
Woo Kwok Hing: Calling for faster approval of small housing developments. He also wants to cool down the housing market as well as the construction of more public and private housing.
Carrie Lam: Taking an interest in helping the elderly and disadvantaged, the economic left winger has been critical of the government’s fiscal first approach to the budget. She also opposes John Tsang’s belief that the ageing population is a threat to economic growth.
John Tsang: Yet to fully outline his economic policies if elected, the former Financial Secretary has close connections to the financial and business sectors. Although he is the obvious choice for most in the sector, only the Liberal Party’s James Tien has opened voiced support for him.
Regina Ip: Wants the government to give more land and develop more local talent. She believes that Hong Kong currently lacks a competitive advantage and should focus also on new industries.
Woo Kwok Hing: Would like to see Hong Kong have greater involvement in China’s Belt and Road initiative. Diversifying the economy including developing innovation technology is also important.
Carrie Lam: Having chaired the Commission on Poverty, she believes in fighting poverty through coöperation between government, community and business.
John Tsang: Describing himself as middle class, he has been accused of doing little to reduce poverty despite the government’s surpluses in recent years.
Regina Ip: Is in favour of creating three levels of benefits that would be means tested for retirees and the elderly. She also would like to see the government make contributions to the Mandatory Provident Fund accounts of low-income working families.
Woo Kwok Hing: Proposes a universal retirement protection plan with every applicant between receiving HK$2500 or HK$3500 each month depending on their circumstances.
Carrie Lam: A hard-line supporter of Leung Chun-ying’s unpopular response to Occupy Central and advocate of the failed electoral reforms for the 2017 Chief Executive elections. She is firmly against localism in Hong Kong.
John Tsang: Having kept mostly quiet during the political tensions in Hong Kong over the past few years, he has spoken of his support for the failed electoral reforms noting that it has the possibility of impacting on the economy and would affect the city’s future. He is seen as a moderate but is still against the idea of an independent Hong Kong.
Regina Ip: Also a supporter of the failed political reforms, she believes that Hong Kong has missed an opportunity to impact on mainland China’s political modernisation. She is interested in restarting the consultation process on this issue. She refutes the idea that Hong Kong localism has real grounding noting that the city is not actually autonomous.
Woo Kwok Hing: Political reform would be his top priority. He would like to see the the broadening of the electoral roll of the Election Committee to eventually include all three million eligible voters over the next 15 years. He is against localism but disagrees that it should be censored.
This post has also appeared on The Typewriter at http://typewriterintl.com/2017/02/07/whos-who-in-hong-kongs-chief-executive-race/
Roydon Ng is a freelance journalist, blogger and web designer based from Sydney, Australia.