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How To Make A Right Choice?
Leung Chun Ying, President of KCOBA, 1991

I am most delighted to hear that a student union will shortly be formed in our alma mater. I am thrilled to learn that the formation of its governing body will be by universal franchise among the students.

Putting a tick or a cross against a candidate's or a team of candidates' names(s) appears a simple enough act. The thought that should have gone into it before making the choice is not. The first election of student representatives in the long history of the school must be treasured. Without any knowledge of the candidates and their platforms and therefore without any possibility of bias, I am pleased to offer a few pointers for your consideration:-

1.    The nature of the office into which you vote your chosen candidate must be clearly understood. It is easy in a euphoric atmosphere surrounding this historic election to fall into the illusion that once elected, your representative will have supreme authority, an open cheque book and a magic wand to give you what you have longed for. They will not. Nor do most politicians in the world. Al1 elected representatives, including those to be elected by you in the school, have to work within a constitutional structure with well-defined briefs and checks and balances. You may not disagree, for example, with the authority that your representatives will have. You may want to change the relationship between the students body and the school management. That is fair enough. That is also for the long haul. Until constitutions are changed, we should all abide by them and make the best out of them.

2.    It is against this understanding of what the student union is for and what it should be able to achieve that candidates' vision, their ability and their promises are gauged. Of course, given the environment, the same amount of resources and the same constraints, different candidates will put different emphases on their work. Again, you should make a considered choice of what you prefer to have around you and judge this against the possibility of having this delivered by the candidate of your choice.

3.    Whatever your representatives can do for you in school, your principal and his staff could do better. Except one thing. This is the actual experience of making a choice among candidates and of monitoring their work, sharing their sense of achievement and their frustration in the year to come.

The whole point of having a student union and an election to it is not to shed some of the school’s chores to the students. It is a learning process of some form if self-governing and democracy. You will learn not just the actual machinery of voting, election, constitutional arrangements but also the realities of "politics".

4.    It is therefore absolutely important that you do not stop your participation after voting. You should carry on monitoring and comparing. You should monitor the performance of the representatives, whether or not they were your choices, You should also compare not just what they promise to do with what they eventually deliver ,or fail to deliver, but also compare what has been done with what could have been done.

5.    There will be mistakes. You may make a wrong choice. You may have expectations so much higher than what are achievable in reality that you will fell let down. The student union with your support may be banging its head against a brick wall. All these are part of the process and cannot be learnt from text-books. You will in time, looking back, relish these mistakes as much as your achievements.

6.    Do not get too personal in making your choice or in election arguments. It is hard to avoid a sense of affinity when the candidate is from your class or your house. But if you allow these considerations overstake you, elections are no longer elections. They become feuds. Arch-rivals and their supporters in elections should also remember that after the results are known, you will have to live and work very much under the same roof for many more years to come.

I wish all-candidates a good-spirited campaign. I wish all voters a judicious choice and I wish all those elected a meaningful term of office.

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