"The high level of acceptance of him in the election for Chief
Executive of Hong Kong was evident. This acceptance and confidence
became even more obvious after his election."
EN minutes. That was all it took for the nine-member panel of judges
to reach their decision on who should be 1996's Leader of the Year, an
annual award presented by the Hong Kong Standard and the Sing Tao
The vote _ for Tung Chee-hwa _ was unanimous.
Afterwards, the judges reflected with amusement when asked what seemed
to them to be an odd question: why did they vote Tung?
It was apparent from the collective surprised look that the thought of
not voting for the man had never occurred to them.
But one of the judges, Francis Cornish, senior trade commissioner of
the British Trade Commission, quickly pointed out that the panel
elected an individual, not a member of any political party.
"He's been a leader in his own field for many years. I, for one, have
great confidence he will lead the community with great distinction,"
Mr Cornish said.
Another judge Peter Woo, chairman of the Hospital Authority, said:
"the unanimous decision speaks for itself".
Anthony Neoh, chairman of the Securities & Futures Commission
explained that Mr Tung epitomised the times. "The high level of
acceptance of him in the election for Chief Executive of Hong Kong was
evident. This acceptance and confidence became even more obvious after
his election," Mr Neoh said.
Nominations sent in by readers of the Hong Kong Standard and Sing Tao
Daily followed a similar vein. Virtually everyone named Mr Tung as his
or her choice of Leader of the Year.
Their votes were counted in the Standard's office and resembled a
replay of the monotonous election tally that took place at the Hong
Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre on 11 December when only one
name was being called out again and again: Tung Chee-hwa.
The nominators gave four main reasons for choosing Mr Tung:
His sincerity and modesty;
His good connections at home and abroad;
His fatherly image which, they say, inspires confidence in the people;
His cautious nature.
Comments received from readers had made interesting reading. But there
was one common theme: the man is on a roll and simply can't lose, for
the present at least.
Professor Joseph Cheng chair-professor of political science at City
University pointed out that Mr Tung was still enjoying a honeymoon
period. "There is tremendous expectation of him, but most people
would grant him the benefit of the doubt.
Prof Cheng said Mr Tung had made no major mistakes so far, instead he
had made all the right moves. "He's a natural choice".
Miss Lau Pui-king of Hong Kong Polytechnic said: "The public sees him
as a sincere, conservative and stable person. That's why he won".
But she added that the news media contributed significantly to Mr
Tung's positive impact on the people.
But choosing a Young Leader of the Year (under 40 years old) was
More than 40 candidates were nominated, and the judges had to cast a
second vote because of a tie in the first ballot.
Dickson Poon, the man who built a global retail empire in luxury goods
won the day. More details on the victory and on the 1996 Young Leader
himself appears elsewhere on these pages.
The Standard's Leader of the Year award scheme is now in its third
year, and has become one of the most prestigious titles in Hong Kong.
It recognises the achievements of a very special individual _ one who
has made significant contributions towards improving the quality of
life for Hong Kong people.
Previous and most deserving winners were Mr Peter Woo Kwong-ching in
1994 and Mrs Anson Chan Fang On-sang in 1995.
Young Leader of the Year is a new award introduced in 1996 for a very
special under 40-year-old who is already demonstrating the qualities
outlined in the selection criteria for Leader of the Year.
All rights reserved.