Saturday, March 17, 2012

HongKong's 3 chief executive hopefuls face off in live debate

HONG KONG: Hong Kong's three chief executive hopefuls faced off for the first time in a live televised debate.
According to political watchers, opposition leader Albert Ho performed the best, followed by ex-convenor of the Executive Council Leung Chun-Ying.
The city chooses its new leader next Sunday.
Hong Kong politics took a page from the US Presidential Election process, a live two hour no-holds barred debate, pitting all three hopefuls against one another and taking questions from the floor.
In one corner is the man believed to have the backing of Beijing and the business establishment, former chief secretary Henry Tang.

His rival, ahead in the popular polls, is Leung Chun-Ying, ex-convenor of Hong Kong's policy making body Executive Council.
The dark horse in the race, who doesn't stand a chance, is Democratic Party chairman Albert Ho.
Henry Tang, who's admitted to cheating on his wife and then having her take the fall for unauthorised home improvements to a house they both own, got his handicap out of the way, right from the start.
Mr Tang said: "I'm not a perfect man, in my private life I've made mistakes. I've not dealt with them in a decisive manner and because of that, the focus of this election has been shifted and I have to be responsible to a certain extent and for this, I would like to sincerely extend my apology to the Hong Kong people."
Opposition leader Albert Ho, who put on the best show, didn't let Mr Tang off that easily.
Mr Ho said: "The problem is whether you have the credibility. If you don't abide by the law, and it is found out, and you try to hide and duck, then a lot of people will follow your example, without integrity, you cannot govern."
Mr Tang said: "I admit I was negligent in handling the matter. I have admitted that that from the very start but in dealing with illegal structures, we should be just and fair."
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao recently weighed in on the elections, saying that he believed the voters will "elect a leader who enjoys the supports of the vast majority", suggesting perhaps Leung Chun-Ying stands a chance.
But Mr Leung himself is grappling with scandals of his own over a possible conflict of interest involving his property firm DTZ, and his campaign office linked to a triad boss.
Mr Leung denied the allegations and wanted his track record, bringing benefits to Hong Kong, speak for itself.
Mr Leung said: "In early 2003, Tung Chee-Hwa talked about having individual permits for mainlanders to come to Hong Kong for tourism purposes, in July 2003. We had signed the Closer Economic Partnership Agreement and this individual permit was one of the main contents of the CEPA and it was me who was responsible for it. I went to Beijing to negotiate this agreement."
Despite the veneer of a US-style election, the city's next leader is actually voted by a small circle Election Committee of 1,200 made up representatives in various sectors, mostly tycoons and pro-Beijing supporters.
The winning candidate must have at least half the votes.
It's hoped that the performance by the candidates will be able to sway undecided voters.
It's estimated that about a quarter of the Election Committee have yet to make up their minds.
And for the hopefuls that didn't do well this time around, there's another chance to make an impact, in a question and answer forum organised by the Election Committee on Monday.
- CNA/ck

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