【明報專訊】THE NEXT Chief Executive (CE) election is likely to be a race between Henry Tang and Leung Chun-ying. Both of them being establishmentarians, either is acceptable to the central government as CE. Their race may virtually be a primary election of the establishmentarian camp. When the nomination period is about to end, one of them may be picked to fight the democratic candidate. Another possibility is that both will complete their electioneering and the Election Committee will decide which of them should win. There is no telling which will prove the case. However, as the central government puts "safety" first, the Tang-Leung race is likely to be a virtual primary.
Whichever is the case, their electioneering must be oriented both in form and in substance towards the 7.1 million citizens. Over the past two years, Leung has painstakingly done much in various strata, sectors and districts. His approval rating in opinion polls has changed from one-digit to two-digit and is now comparable to Tang's. There have been such changes in public opinion that Tang (who thought he would be automatically "crowned") has had to quit as Chief Secretary earlier than he has planned to race against Leung. Changes in public opinion have subtly affected the small-circle election. That is what makes this CE election unique. Since both Tang and Leung must try to win popular support, one may expect the race between them to be of greater real significance than any CE election that has taken place.
Furthermore, it will be path-breaking if it turns out to be the establishmentarians' primary. If it proves successful, the method can at least be generally accepted as the way in which establishmentarians run against one another. As the Tang-Leung race may be of great significance (because it may be unique and path-breaking), it is worthwhile to pin high hopes on it.
In our view, the Tang-Leung contention must be gentlemanly before it can be taken as a good example. The two should have rational discussions and benign interactions. They can, by setting good examples, help shape a good election culture.
Both have to unveil their platforms, inform citizens of their ideas of running Hong Kong and tell them how they propose to end deep-rooted contradictions and other social problems in the SAR. Only if they have rational discussions can citizens judge whether it is more in Hong Kong's best interests for one rather than the other to be the next CE.
Tang and Leung should have two kinds of benign interactions. They must interact with citizens. At this stage, they must vie with each other for popular support. When they meet people, they will have to answer many questions. Conceivably, some may want each of them to pledge himself to pursue certain policies if he becomes CE. Their sincerity can be discerned from such interactions.
They should also interact benignly with each other. They should not just say separately what they have to say. They should face each other in debates. We think television stations should contact their camps about their televised debates so that they can do media organisations' duty to foster social progress.