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Saturday, March 24, 2007 

Hong Kong will never be the same again

Via competitionforce.hk, a commentary titled "This city will never be the same again" by Steve Vines, originally appeared in The Standard. Vines reviewed the Hong Kong Chief Executive Election which will be held today (Sunday) in Hong Kong and points out the uncertain options ahead for Hong Kong's road to democracy.

"In other parts of the world, a special place in hell is reserved for journalists who confidently predict election outcomes just days before they are announced. Lamentably, this does not apply in Hong Kong, where the result of Sunday's chief executive election has been preordained. Yet Sunday's result is only one part of the story, because it seems increasingly likely that a variety of other results are not so predictable.

Donald Tsang Yam-kuen will be elected to a second term in office, but will he claim that he has secured a popular mandate? Or will he, more modestly, assume that he has the mandate of only the few hundred who were allowed to vote? Surely the temptation will be to claim a wider mandate - one justified by high ratings in public opinion polls.

Such a claim, however, carries dangers because it would lead to the question of why the new chief executive was claiming a popular mandate while refusing to put it to the test - in a real election by universal suffrage.

Meanwhile Mr Tsang's opponent, Alan Leong Kah-kit, can also make some sweeping claims about success in this election. He can say that he succeeded in creating a competitive poll, that he made an impressive showing in the televised debates and forced the incumbent onto the defensive in explaining his policies.

Yet Mr Leong's participation in the campaign has widened, or at least publicised, divisions in the democratic camp. A minority of pro-democrats believe he has betrayed the campaign for universal suffrage by taking part in a small-circle election."

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