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Call for electoral change

HONG KONG (UCAN): Religious leaders have called for changes in the election process of the special administrative region’s chief executive officer amid deepening scandals surrounding two of the leading candidates.

“The congenital defect of the small-circle election makes us angry and disappointed,” leaders from various Protestant denominations, theological seminaries and Christian organisations said in a statement signed by 800 individual people and published in two Hong Kong newspapers on March 2.

Local media has described the two leading candidates, Henry Tang Ying-yen and Leung Chun-ying, in this year’s election for a new chief executive to be held on March 25, as the pig and the wolf.

Tang, a wealthy businessperson turned civil servant, who many believe is Beijing’s preferred candidate, has been dogged by questions about his credibility over the building of what may be an illegal basement at his wife’s home, as well as marital infidelity.

Leung, a surveyor and former Executive Council convener, currently leads Tang in public opinion polls, despite recent allegations published by local media that he is a member of the Communist Party and has carried out some irregular business transactions.

He has denied both allegations.

Democratic Party chairperson, Albert Ho Chun-yan, the third candidate in the race, is widely thought to have little chance of winning.

In the meantime, Tang, speaking on commercial radio on March 1, launched an ad hominem attack on his main rival, saying, “Leung Chun-ying—Hongkongers must be wary. I’ve been in politics for 20 years and in the government for nine years, and I’ve seen and known many people. Many are amazing with words, yet incompetent when it comes to action.”

Reverend Lo Lung-kwong, the director of the Divinity School at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said the electorate deserves more from the political process.

“We want to raise our fellow citizens’ awareness that the distorted electoral system will only create greater conflict of interest and social divisions.”

He added that changes should be adopted before the next election.

“We should have a consensus for universal suffrage in the 2017 chief executive election,” he said.

Hong Kong’s chief executive is elected by a 1,200-member Election Commission, which critics say favours candidates with close ties to Beijing and denies the public an adequate say in choosing their leaders.

The statement further urges electors on the commission to follow their consciences in selecting the best candidate.

“They must cut off any (self) interest, listen to public opinion, study the candidates’ platforms and have independent thinking,” the statement says.

Reverend Lo added that whoever wins the election should be guided by what is in the best interests of the public.

“He should abide by integrity, selflessness, tolerance and openness,” he concluded.

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