The Occupy campaign ended peacefully after police cleared the last protest site in Causeway Bay on Monday, but that doesn’t mean Hong Kong people will now just cast aside their clamor for change.
They want to see what the administration of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying will do to address their demand for political reform. They now realize that most of the social and economic woes besetting the city could be traced to a government that is unaccountable to the people, and that the electoral system must be overhauled to allow them to choose their own leaders.
The 79-day protests have only further eroded their tolerance for the incompetence of officials whose mandate comes from Beijing and not from the people.
This is clearly shown by the results of the latest survey conducted by the University of Hong Kong’s public opinion program. Following a slight recovery in November, CY Leung’s popularity has dropped again.
His support rating stands at 39.7 marks, while his net approval slides to a negative 39 percentage points. Overall, his performance has fallen to the category of “depressing”.
Leung’s miserable rating is a reflection of the people’s perception of his performance during and after the Occupy campaign.
It is very clear that Leung’s intention is not to heal the wounds, but rather to attack his enemies and blame them for everything that is wrong in society.
As the Occupy campaign died down, CY Leung, instead of opening his arms to seek reconciliation with the young protesters, criticized them for the serious damage they inflicted on the local economy, and cited the enormous losses suffered by business owners in the protest zones.
He also warned that the economy is likely to remain sluggish as investors and entrepreneurs worry about political instability.
He did not bother to provide facts and figures to support his dire warnings. In his mind, the damage wrought by the protests is pretty obvious to everyone.
However, on the same day that he was painting his dark economic picture, the Trade Development Council said Hong Kong exports are expected to grow 3 percent next year, driven by increased shipments, although the value is expected to remain unchanged from 2014.
Hong Kong exporters are more optimistic about the medium-term outlook. For the whole of 2015, 73 percent of the respondents expect their sales to increase or remain unchanged.
While Leung decried the adverse impact of the Occupy campaign on small and medium-scale enterprises, a TDC researcher said the city’s exporters, which are mostly SMEs, have not been affected by the pro-democracy protests, adding that foreign buyers didn’t cancel their orders despite the sit-ins.
It said further that the city’s economy benefited from the strengthening economies of the United States and Europe, as well as those of emerging markets.
Since the Occupy campaign started in late September, the government had been attacking the protesters for damaging the city’s economic performance and sending the negative impression that Hong Kong was no longer a stable place for investment.
The fact is that Hong Kong economy performed much better than the government forecast.
Home prices, for example, were up during the Occupy campaign. The number of inbound tourists grew 12.6 percent in October from a year earlier. Retail sales also edged up 1.4 percent year on year.
Despite the CY Leung’s warnings, the Hong Kong and Shanghai stock link was launched without any disruptions from the protests.
The Hong Kong people can judge who is speaking the truth about the real situation in Hong Kong. And in this case, they would rather look at the TDC figures than listen to Leung’s gloom and doom.
In the aspect of political reform, the Leung administration simply urged the people to accept the “Beijing nominates, Hong Kong people vote” mechanism set by the central government for the 2017 chief executive election. It hardly did anything to bridge the gap between Beijing’s framework for universal suffrage and the protesters’ call for civil nomination.
The results of the latest public opinion survey show that the people — including the so-called silent majority — found the Leung’s performance wanting.
If he wants to regain the people’s trust, Leung has to get out of Beijing’s frame of mind and reach out to them.
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