Hold On Tight !

Hong Kong’s political scene heated up in the first two months of 2012 in a way never seen before.

By the closing date for nominations, no fewer than three candidates had thrown their hats into the ring for the post of Chief Executive. They are (in order of submitting their nomination) Albert Ho of the Democratic party, a worthy if slightly dull lawyer taking part to expose the small circle nature of the election (only 1,200 people – members of the Election Committee – are entitled to take part); Henry Tang, Chief Secretary until his resignation in late 2011, holder of two other senior positions before that, for a long time the presumed favourite as rumoured to have the "mandate of Heaven" i.e. Beijing’s endorsement; and C Y Leung, the "dark horse" candidate, former Exco Convenor, well known to and liked by some in Beijing.

Albert did well to get more than the 150 endorsements from Election Committee members to qualify as a candidate, but he has no chance of winning a majority.

Henry had been carefully groomed by Beijing for 10 years for the top post, but his campaign quickly got bogged down in controversy over allegations of multiple love affairs and illegal structures at his home (all ultimately admitted after a period of denial).

C Y easily passed the 150 threshold despite rumours from the Tang side that he was struggling to get endorsements. As he went into a commanding lead in public opinion polls, he came under attack from various parties over alleged transgressions, some dating back a decade or more.

Messy – but look on the bright side: plenty for us columnists to write about.