10/30/2007, 00.00
HONG KONG – CHINA
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Anson Chan presents her electoral campaign

She wants direct election for chief executive and the LegCo as well as a revised history of what happened in Tiananmen Square. She aims to improve relations with Beijing and the social safety net for families and the elderly. Beijing is trying to undercut her and is supporting a candidate that finds few favours in the population.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – Anson Chan, who is running in the upcoming Legislative Council (LegCo) by-election in Hong Kong Island, has unveiled her campaign platform, which includes universal suffrage by 2012 and a just and compassionate society that takes care of the elderly. The well-respected former chief secretary for Administration in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region told her supporters that the direct election of the chief executive and the members of the legislative chamber by 2012 is essential for “good governance.”

At present the chief executive is “elected” by an Election Committee set up by mainland China who is the real powerbroker. And only half of all LegCo seats are directly elected by the people as was the case at the end of British rule.

According to Hong Kong’s Basic Law, universal suffrage was supposed to come into effect after 2007, but Beijing holds all the cards as to when and how it is implemented.

Ms Chan’s platform also includes a demand for a fair verdict on the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown so that the victims and their families can finally have justice

Beijing has instead always rejected any attempt to re-examine the way it handled the 1989 movement of students and workers which it still considers anti-revolutionary. Indeed, Chinese authorities continue to claim that the crackdown was justified to ensure today’s stability and welfare.

Ms Chan also wants to help families pay for school costs and improve support for the elderly and the poor.

The 67-year-old Chan, who is Catholic, knows the Hong Kong government inside out as well as the intricacies of the relationship with the mainland. She was chief secretary for the last governor of the British Crown colony and for the first Beijing-appointed chief executive after the handover in 1997.

Her platform also includes greater dialogue with the mainland and support for President Hu Jintao's policy of people-based governance.

Beijing however is not very keen about her candidacy. In fact, behind the scenes it is trying to undermine her electoral campaign by putting pressures on various organisations to shun her.

Anson Chan’s main rival is Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, who is backed by all pro-Beijing parties but much disliked in Hong Kong.

As the Special Administrative Region’s secretary for security in 2003 she tried to get an anti-subversion bill adopted that limited freedom of expression and association. Instead she got more than half a million people into the streets protesting against the bill, known as Article 23. It was eventually dropped.

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