Who is the best pro-liberty candidate in Hong Kong Chief Executive election, 2017?

William Wang

Hong Kong elected its’ new Chief Executive Carrie Lam by a 1,194-member Election Committee two weeks ago. One of the hotspots from the media is that though another candidate John Tsang was supported by more than 50% of the Hong Kong people according to various polls before the election, the Election Committee still elected Carrie Lam, who was supported by less than 30% of the Hong Kong people. As the Election Committee, which is selected not vote by one person one vote of the Hong Kong citizens but in a complicated process, it is highly possible for the more than 50% of the pro-Beijing Committee members to elect the candidate who is more loyal to Beijing but is less popular among Hong Kong people.

The low support rate of the elected new Chief Executive Carrie Lam would make her harder to work at the beginning of her term of the office of the Chief Executive; especially the tension between Beijing and Hong Kong people was not eliminated after the Umbrella Movements in 2014. The uncertainty of the performance of Mrs. Lam has been concerned by a lot of political analysts, but what should be concerned more are her policies, especially her economic policies. Carrie Lam is called ‘C Y Leung 2.0’ and C Y Leung is the current pro-Beijing Chief Executive who is famous for establishing Hong Kong’s first minimum wage laws and promoting welfare state in Hong Kong.

In the perspective of economics, minimum wage law would cause unemployment, and welfare state would cause more problems such as economic inefficiency, increasing government debt and medical service incompetence, which are all completely against the sort of pro-free market economic policies in Hong Kong.  Besides, though the land transfer system of Hong Kong is a state regulated program which

Though Carrie Lam promises that she would still keep the low tax rate policy, we still doubt that this is just an impossible policy proposal. Mrs. Lam is going to devote 640 million US Dollars public funding in governmental, education programs, which would possibly be used as sending pro-Beijing’s ideological brainwashing to young people.

Carrie Lam’s loyalty to Beijing and her interventionist policies would hurt both the political and economic freedom in Hong Kong. It is hard to be optimistic, but Beijing could have another option, John Tsang, who is not only moderately pro-Beijing but also is very popular among Hong Kong People. He is a decent candidate who can be accepted by both Beijing and the Hong Kong people.

However, another more important reason why John Tsang is the best option in this election is that Mr. Tsang has a relative pro-liberty policy proposal. Not only being against high taxation and economic regulation, but Mr. Tsang also believes that government should maintain a low tax rate and oppose the expansion of social welfare measures. During his 10-year service as Financial Secretary, the fiscal measures have been based on the amount of revenue and expenditure. Mr. Tsang refused to blindly implement the comprehensive and long-term social welfare policy so as to avoid the long-term financial burden of Hong Kong. The living and study experience in United States model the relative pro-liberty ideas of Mr. Tsang.

Besides, one of the most famous libertarian writers Ayn Rand also influenced Mr. Tsang. He said,

When I was studying at the Faculty of Architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the students contended to read Any Rand’s novel, The Fountainhead. The young architects in the story are totally uncompromising about society. Although the novel is from a personal interests perspective, the end of the book is to enlighten the wisdom of people.

Hardly to believe Mr. Tsang is completely pro-liberty, as his policy proposals still include some state welfare programs and do not plan to eliminate all the state intervention, but it is still better to say that Mr. Tsang is much better than Mrs. Lam. The less the state intervene individual’s free choice, the more individuals can be better off and the more prosperity the society will have. Mr. Tsang’s relatively better policies and good communication ability with Hong Kong citizens would reduce the tension between Beijing and Hong Kong citizens.

Unfortunately, Mr. Tsang would not serve as the Chief Executive in the next five years. Hong Kong is still in a very uncertain situation after the 2014 Umbrella Movement.

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