18 September 2019
Leung Chun-ying managed to humiliate his ostensible allies Jasper Tsang (left) and Carrie Lam on the same day. Photos: RTHK, Bloomberg
Leung Chun-ying managed to humiliate his ostensible allies Jasper Tsang (left) and Carrie Lam on the same day. Photos: RTHK, Bloomberg

Jasper Tsang, Carrie Lam lose face at hands of CY Leung

During question period in the Legislative Council last week, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying was subjected to constant heckling from the opposition benches.

Albert Chan Wai-yip of People Power, Leung Kwok-hung of the League of Social Democrats and independent lawmaker Wong Yuk-man kept yelling at him from their seats.

Leung became so irritated that he asked Legco president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing to enforce the chamber’s rules of procedure by disciplining them.

After a moment of hesitation, Tsang, rather reluctantly it seemed, told Chan and his colleagues to behave.

Feeling indignant at Leung’s arrogant and bossy attitude, other pan-democratic legislators in the chamber immediately raised the question whether it was appropriate for the chief executive to give orders to the Legco president during a formal meeting of the legislature.

However, members of the pro-establishment camp, apparently still haunted by the bungled walkout several weeks ago that led to the resounding defeat of the government’s electoral reform proposal, were quick to rush to the defense of their boss.

Among them, Ann Chiang Lai-wan and Ip Kwok-him of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, Wong Kwok-kin of the Federation of Trade Unions and Ma Fung-kwok, who represents the sports, performing arts and cultural sector, urged Tsang one after another to get tough with the three rebellious lawmakers.

Tsang was outraged by their demand.

He responded angrily that he didn’t need to be told what to do and asked the lawmakers whether they had already performed enough in front of the television cameras.

Many in the mainstream media believe the reason Tsang suddenly lost his temper was probably because he was feeling humiliated by the fact that his pro-establishment colleagues were questioning his ability to maintain order inside the chamber in front of the chief executive, which made him look incompetent as the president of Legco.

Besides, it has become an open secret that there is personal animosity between Tsang and Leung, and Tsang was simply contemptuous of those who were openly trying to kiss up to the chief executive.

Leung has recently stated on different occasions that in the post-reform-vote era, his administration will stay focused on livelihood and economic issues.

As there are a lot of pressing issues facing our society, such as insufficient protection for labor, the absence of a universal retirement protection scheme, a healthcare system that is already stretched to the limit and even the sustainability of our financial system, Hongkongers are holding their breath to see how the government is going to deliver on its promise.

Unfortunately, to everyone’s disappointment, it seems what is in the administration’s pipeline is the complete opposite of what we are expecting.

During Thursday’s question period, in what appeared to be a publicity stunt for the government in collaboration with the DAB, legislator and executive councillor Starry Lee Wai-king, the party’s chairman, began by bragging that her party had found 70 “public hygiene black spots” across the city and asked Leung what he was going to do about that.

It seems the only aim of her question was to set the stage for the chief executive to proudly announce his latest big policy initiative: the Clean Hong Kong Campaign 2015, which will begin next month, spearheaded by Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor.

So it turned out that even though there are a lot of social and economic problems waiting to be dealt with urgently in our city, and the general public is eagerly looking forward to remedies for them, all our government is concerned about is cleaning up the trash on our streets.

As the second-in-command of the Hong Kong government, Lam has been kept busy in the past three years taking care of one big project after another, such as the Community Care Fund, the population policy initiative and the “pocket it first” electoral reform proposal, not to mention playing “secretary nanny” and cleaning up the numerous messes left behind by her fellow top officials.

Despite her tireless efforts to keep the government functioning against the odds for the past few years, it is really sad and ironic that the reward for her steadfast service is the position of captain of the cleaning squad.

As the old Chinese saying goes, once there are no more birds to hunt, the bow will be put away.

It seems this ancient rule of politics still applies to modern-day Hong Kong.

This article first appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on July 13.

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Columnist of Hong Kong Economic Journal