When it comes to the biggest damage Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has inflicted on our city over the past five years, it has got to be the intense political polarization in society as a result of his confrontational style of governance.
Apparently, mending fences and restoring harmony would be the most urgent task before the next chief executive.
The current political stalemate in Legco, as well as the polarization and divisions in our society, all have their roots in our chief executive’s outright disrespect for our legislature.
In particular, his hostility and belligerence toward the pro-democracy camp, as well as his “you-are-either-with-me-or-against-me” attitude toward those who disagree with him have made it impossible for our legislature to function properly.
In many western democracies such as the US and the UK, the executive branch often comes into conflict with the legislature over their differences on policy issues, and sometimes the government just comes into gridlock with parliament.
However, this is exactly how democracy and the separation of powers work: while the government is elected with a public mandate to govern, it is the duty of lawmakers to provide proper oversight and ensure accountability and transparency in the course of policymaking.
Even though Hong Kong is not an independent political entity, under Articles 48 and 64 of the Basic Law, the chief executive is required to answer to Legco and accept its oversight.
However, over the past five years, the legislature has been unable to properly oversee the current administration thanks to our executive-led political system, the majority held by the pro-Beijing camp in Legco, and above all, Leung’s underlying disdain for public representatives and his refusal to reach out to the pro-democracy camp.
Pro-democracy lawmakers were all elected by voters who were free from Beijing’s manipulation and influence and are therefore legitimate representatives of the public and can truly reflect public opinion.
So how could CY Leung govern effectively if he continued to regard the pro-democracy camp as enemy rather than a bridge between himself and the public?
I believe the first step toward mending fences would be for the next chief executive to repair his or her relations with the pro-democracy camp.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Jan. 19
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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