24 October 2016
Hong Kong's leader CY Leung has accumulated a long list of broken promises. Photos: CNSA, HKEJ
Hong Kong's leader CY Leung has accumulated a long list of broken promises. Photos: CNSA, HKEJ

What’s a CY promise worth?

There used to be two kinds of promise, a promise that contains a pledge which needs to be fulfilled and then there’s a politician’s promise which is little more than a vague statement of intent with no intention of fulfillment.

Now we have a third kind of promise that can be called the CY promise.

This takes matters to a new level because when Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying promises to do something or maybe not to do something, it is becoming increasingly clear that even at the outset he either has not the least intention of following through or is well aware that the promise is nothing more than a tool for some other purpose.

Unfortunately for Leung many of us have rather longer memories than he would like us to have and so it is not that difficult to compile a list of his broken pledges.

First up, because it was so cynical, was CY’s firm promise to reveal allegedly irrefutable evidence of foreign meddling and support for the Umbrella Movement. Many months have passed since this declaration was made both by Leung and his acolytes but not one jot of solid ‘evidence’ has yet been produced.

And while we are on the question of evidence, what happened to the firm commitment to find out who was behind the vicious attack on Ming Pao’s former editor Kevin Lau? Instead we have convictions of the hired hands; no one seriously believes that they initiated this attack themselves.

Thirdly, what has happened to the investigation by the Independent Commission Against Corruption into the alleged bribery of former Chief Executive Donald Tsang? Leung and his officials have repeated promised that a conclusion would be reached but after three years we are still waiting for an outcome.

Now, lets look at something that Leung un-categorically promised he would not do, namely to seek a pay rise for himself or his cabinet executives. In January CY awarded himself a 5.68 percent pay hike.

This contrasts with a promise he made to Hong Kong in his election manifesto, which was to enact legislation to specify standard working hours. That promise has faded away and been replaced by a laughable increase in statutory minimum pay levels, so low it has helped very few employees.

Perhaps even more blatant was the issue described by CY as his utmost priority. Indeed the central plank of his election manifesto (well, someone has to be sad enough to go back and read it) was to make housing more affordable for Hong Kong people.

But what’s the reality?

Since CY came to office public housing waiting lists have risen by a third and prices have continued to increase. Despite a modest lull in the rate of increase, prices are now well above the levels that prevailed when Leung came into office.

And yet the government claims that more homes are being built and parades a modest boost to the Home Ownership Scheme as evidence of success in this area.

This is cynical nonsense because the average person cannot even dream of owning these new housing units and very few people were able to clamber aboard the good ship HOS.

In case Leung’s memory is really faulty he will no doubt recall a promise not to stand for “re-election” if his housing pledge is not fulfilled.

Meanwhile what happened to another election pledge, namely the promise to provide free kindergarten education in non-profit schools for anyone who wanted it? The reality here is that 40 percent of parents sending their children to these schools are still paying for the privilege.

Perhaps the problem for parents who struggle to send their children to kindergartens is that they have committed the serious offense of being poor.

Let’s not forget that CY revealed his true attitude to the poor back in October last year when he told foreign journalists that if there were to be genuine free elections the poor and working class would end up dominating the process.

This may also explain why the much publicized new Commission on Poverty has held seven meetings but produced nothing, zilch, nada aside from commitments to keep looking at the issues.

As for the black hole of public spending on the sort of projects that CY really likes, well, what happened? Where’s the evidence of the HK$5 billion allocated to innovation and technology having any impact? Why is money still sloshing around in the wretched West Kowloon cultural hub yet to show any result? The list here is endless.

I have recently had extensive dealings with a second-hand car dealer, a business that is notoriously promise-challenged but, frankly, and despite some problems, I would take a promise from that man any time before pocketing a CY promise.

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Hong Kong-based journalist, broadcaster and book author

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