21 October 2016
Amid the debate over a potential new term for Chief Executive CY Leung (L), LegCo chief Jasper Tsang has been making some interesting comments. Photo: HKEJ
Amid the debate over a potential new term for Chief Executive CY Leung (L), LegCo chief Jasper Tsang has been making some interesting comments. Photo: HKEJ

Leung’s main problem: Loss of public trust

Jasper Tsang Yok-sing, founding chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong (DAB), has seemingly been giving away “clues” on whether Leung Chun-ying should be considered for a second term.

From an interesting pun — “Time lies. See why” — that he came up with last Monday, to his critical comments made with reference to ancient Chinese politician Wang Anshi, the LegCo chief has been offering interesting sound-bites in relation to the local political scene.

For those of you who are not very familiar with ancient Chinese history, Wang Anshi was a Song Dynasty official who failed to put new socioeconomic reforms into practice thanks to his own pride and prejudice. The failures prompted his supporters to turn against him and become enemies.

As we approach the September LegCo elections, a hot question facing the candidates is whether they are supportive of CY Leung or against him. The upcoming contests will in some way work like a “referendum” on the Leung re-election issue next year.

The pan-democrats’ stance is obviously clear: they would like to see a new person in the chief executive’s post.

As for the pro-establishment groups, the support for Leung has been relatively “lukewarm”.

The debate will continue until Leung comes forward and announces publicly that he is not going to seek re-election.

Certainly Leung has achieved a few things during his current term, such as stopping mainland Chinese women from giving birth in Hong Kong, and curbing property speculation activities in the city.

However, there was zero progress on the issue of political reform. And, there has been large-scale social cleavage in the city as Leung has faced off with the pan-democrats.

Worse still, Leung has now been accused of misusing his power to get rules bypassed at the airport to help his daughter in relation to some left luggage.

All these point to the very same question: is Leung suitable for another term?

One accepts the fact that any chief executive will have some merits as well as some demerits. But the most important thing is whether a leader enjoys the trust of the people.

Without public trust, a CE won’t be able to perform his duties smoothly. 

Let me tell you about a small incident to illustrate the poor credibility surrounding our current CE.

Leung once visited a neighborhood and posed for a picture with a fishmonger. The picture went viral on the Internet, but many netizens suspected that the fishseller was a fake and that he was just an actor brought in for the benefit of the cameras.

The suspicions were wrong, as I can personally vouch that the fishmonger really exists. He is someone I talk to on the phone regularly whenever I seek the day’s fresh seafood.

The fact is that people distrust Leung to such an extent that even something as trivial as a picture is regarded as a fake, not to mention something more important.

Hatred wasn’t built overnight. Hong Kong citizens find it hard to accept Leung’s election as CE in the first place four years ago.

Back then Leung’s rival in the CE race, Henry Tang Ying-yen, was found to have illegal structures at his house. A similar controversy broke later with regard to a Leung house.

Tang was said to have lost to Leung because of the illegal structures scandal. Yet Leung, who was guilty of the same crime, still got the top position anyway.

As long as Leung is in office, his presence will remind people of his untrustworthy act. And it is understandable that citizens will not be able to get rid of the bad impression of him.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on April 18.

Translation by Darlie Yiu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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HKEJ columnist; art, culture and food critic

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