In politics, there’s nothing like being thick-skinned.
What else can you make of Leung Chun-ying’s latest flap and his comeback that was worse than the gaffe?
Leung marked the Democratic Party’s anniversary dinner this month on his diary and told journalists he would be coming with a smile.
But there’s a problem: He is not invited.
And why would the Democratic Party invite Leung, who ordered officials off the same dinner last year?
This is the same Leung Chun-ying who urged voters to throw out its candidates in the recent election and continues to exclude party members from important decisions.
Forget it. Democratic Party chairwoman Emily Lau told a radio station this morning: “What kind of a person is he? He is so hypocritical.”
All government officials have been invited to the party except Leung, Paul Chan and Eddie Ng, the unpopular education minister against whom the party took a no-confidence vote last year.
Leung probably never expected to receive an invitation but asked for it anyway. It appears his bosses in Beijing forced his hand.
They want him to make peace with Lau and her allies, as well as with moderate pan-democrats, purportedly to win them over.
Leung had no choice but to comply if he wanted Beijing’s blessing for a second term as Hong Kong chief executive which he is widely expected to seek next year.
So no matter how humiliating, his efforts to insert himself into an event he is not welcome, is being hailed by his allies as a statesmanlike gesture.
Besides, if he is rebuffed, he can always tell his Beijing backers that he tried.
Leung needs powerful friends more than ever as he and his deputy, Carrie Lam, appear to be drifting farther apart just 13 months before the chief executive election.
It seems they don’t see eye to eye on how to deal with pan-democrats, with Leung’s calculations coming in stark contrast to Lam’s all-out offensive.
Two weeks ago, Lam ramped up her criticism of pan-democrats and challenged them to talk about issues, not personalities.
She accused them of being unfair to her boss and of opposing every one of his proposals all the time. She said 90 percent of proposals tabled by the government had been filibustered, holding up HK$61 billion worth of projects just in recent weeks.
But unlike Leung, Lam has nothing to lose.
She declared in the same breath that she will retire when her term is up and that she has no desire to seek higher office.
That leaves room for executive councilor Regina Ip, the former security minister widely touted by Henry Tang as a contender.
Tang, who lost to Leung in 2012 after a bruising contest that was his to lose from the outset, would have been expected to try again but he made it clear this one is not for him.
“I feel that there are other very capable and smart people who are younger than me and probably have more energy than I have for this very demanding and important position,” he said.
“I really hope that we will see a female candidate for the job because we have not seen any female contender yet.”
Take a bow, Regina, if you want it.
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