First move ripples through small pond

Editorial | 28 Oct 2016

Like a pebble in the pond, retired judge Woo Kwok-hing's candidacy announcement is rippling the far end of the chief executive election pond that, until now, had remained abnormally calm.

It was so quiet that anxiety started breeding in society.

The longer the suspense is maintained, the greater the damage to public confidence. So it's encouraging to see the ripples.

Immediately, Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah was reported to have communicated with Beijing his plan to resign from the government very soon in order to run in the chief executive sweepstakes.

Although there's been no official confirmation, it appears credible in view of the mustachioed one's non-denial.

At least two points should be noted here. One, Tsang's timing would be consistent with the general view that Beijing would turn its attention to Hong Kong matters after the Chinese Communist Party's sixth plenum concluded yesterday.

Two, Tsang communicated via own channels, meaning he has personal connections with the top leadership, at least in terms of the CE election.

Many people are glad to see the race finally heating up. At any rate, it's nearly November, and that can be very late for anybody but the incumbent, Leung Chun- ying, to start campaigning for the March vote.

Several names have been bandied about in this column - the most high profile being CY, Tsang, Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, and Executive Council member Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee.

Dark horses and long shots include former Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing, former financial secretary Antony Leung Kam-chung, Hong Kong Monetary Authority chief executive Norman Chan Tak-lam, and University of Hong Kong council chairman Arthur Li Kwok-cheung.

Woo confirmed he had sounded out his bid to Beijing, but received no reaction. He's probably a latecomer.

After the legal eagle, it's very likely the pond's calm surface will soon be full of ripples. However, the question is who will rise from the depths to make the final short list of two or three candidates?

Woo may be the first to declare, but it remains to be seen whether he can gather the 150 nominations needed. His chances will largely depend on the goodwill of pan-democrats, who have control over 200 to 300 votes in the election committee.

At yesterday's press conference, Woo demonstrated a logical mind and sharp thinking. No wonder he had been a highly regarded judge here.

When asked about the oath controversy involving the two Youngspiration legislators-elect, he gave the worse possible answer of "no comment."

But he was quick to point out that CY Leung shouldn't have initiated the lawsuit in his own name since it's ugly in the public's perception.

Even now, it's puzzling why he didn't get an elector or the justice secretary to file the lawsuit - unless there's a calculation of some kind.

Meanwhile, Ip was evidently upset while appearing on radio. Could she be bitter that Woo stole her thunder by becoming the first to declare his candidacy?

Nevertheless, the former security secretary confirmed for the first time she'll announce her decision after the election committee is formed in December.

The Woo pebble is creating the desired rippling effects.

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