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John So for PM (updated article for newspaper inserts) October 8, 2007



John So is the world’s most outstanding mayor.

The winner of World Mayor 2006, John So is Melbourne’s first directly elected Lord Mayor. In the World Mayor competition verdict, the judging panel described So as ‘possibly the first city leader to enjoy ‘cult status’. The World Mayor Society cited, amongst other things, the successful staging of the 2006 Commonwealth Games (where So was cheered louder than Steve Bracks, John Howard, and even The Queen) and So’s immense popularity amongst the young population of Melbourne as their reason for crowning him winner.

Born in Hong Kong, So is an example of the ‘Australian Dream’ coming to fruition. A former science teacher and restaurant owner, So is now known amongst the Chinese and restaurateur community as the ‘10% Man’, for having at least a 10% stake in most Asian restaurants in town. It wouldn’t hurt Australia to have Chinese power brokers and other influential figures supporting So’s cause for Melbourne.

Now in his second term as mayor, John So’s passion for his city, his enduring enthusiasm for his job, humanity and self-effacing manner have made him the most popular politician amongst young Australians. Melbourne’s longest serving and first elected Lord Mayor, John So can be viewed as a positive symbol of diversity in Australian public life. Elected to a second term in 2004, the affection shown for Mayor So in the Victorian state capital has even manifested itself in a tribute record, an ‘official unofficial’ fan website, a birthday tribute website, and countless other merchandise. Not many Mayors can claim to have had a record made in their honour or a t-shirt proclaiming their name across residents’ chests ( ‘John So – he’s my bro’, also The Music Men’s record title).

Since becoming Mayor, one of John So’s aims has been to engage with young people and to make sure they know that they are a vital part of Melbourne’s society.

He has succeeded.

One young Melbournian states: “John So has captured the imagination of the people of his city. He has especially done so with young people. Where else in the world do people under 25 cheer and stamp and shout out the name of the Mayor?”

So, so far so good. Why not go all the way? All the way to Parliament House in Canberra that is. With almost the same height, hair almost gone, bushy eyebrows, sharing the same first name and similar happy chap smile, John So could pass for the PM, after all he’s definitely more popular than his Anglo-Saxon counter part.

So has long been credited for his success in restoring the public’s trust and confidence in the City Council, which was once known for its complex internal office politics. And in the mean time So has transformed Melbourne from being a city featured for squabbling and petty mindedness, to a place of big thinking and grand results.

As a mayor of Asian heritage in our strongly diverse city, Mayor So champions links with other Asian cities, emphasising sister city relations with Osaka, Japan and Tianjin, China and working within the Business Partner City Network of 12 global cities. Melbourne is Australia’s second largest city and describes itself as the nation’s cultural capital, and its prominence as a financial centre is indisputable. So has kept his election promises, with the help of his team, and implemented these guarantees, resulting in Melbourne being voted one of the World’s Most Liveable Cities on numerous occasions during his time in the office.

With a record like that we can’t really go wrong. Australia needs a leader who really knows its people. Whom the Americans cannot easily cow. Who welcomes diversity and appreciates the countries people and land’s history. Someone who has truly lived the life of the common people. Someone who has achieved the ‘Australian Dream’.

John So for Prime Minister, why not? Rudy Guiliani (ex-mayor of New York) is doing it. Oh, wait, Rudy is white.




1. Peter Gresham - October 31, 2007

John So has performed a great feat in what could be described as a feudal and overly-western institution. I’d love to see a person of European background do the same in China or Japan. But then some will say that China is not democratic. Ok, fair enough. How about Japan? Democratic, world’s second largest economy! For some reason I doubt we’ll ever see a western-equivalvent of John So in Japan. Well done John So

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