Date
28 June 2017
Hong Kong's outgoing leader Leung chun-ying says he will continue to serve the city by promoting national policy initiatives such as Belt and Road and Greater Bay Area plan. Photo: CNSA
Hong Kong's outgoing leader Leung chun-ying says he will continue to serve the city by promoting national policy initiatives such as Belt and Road and Greater Bay Area plan. Photo: CNSA

Decoding CY Leung’s remarks at a farewell party

As Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying prepares to leave office at the end of the month, the Hong Kong United Foundation threw him a farewell party on Sunday, with hundreds of the organization’s members eagerly turning up for the event.

Giving a speech, Leung said he will not “lounge around” after stepping down as CE, and that he will continue to serve the people of Hong Kong and also contribute to national policy initiatives such as “One Belt One Road” and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area project.

It appears there was an overtone of sarcasm or even ridicule in Leung’s speech in an oblique reference to former Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah.

It has almost been an open secret that Leung and Tsang didn’t get along when the latter was in office. On several public occasions Leung didn’t pull his punches when criticizing Tsang for his work.

There is also a view that the reason why Leung gave up seeking a second term was mainly because Beijing believed he wouldn’t be able to secure more than half of the votes with Tsang determined to run for CE, given Leung’s low popularity. As a result, Beijing had to talk Leung out of re-election.

At the farewell party Leung reassured his audience that even though he will continue to serve Hong Kong in the capacity as the deputy chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), it would definitely not constitute any interference in the next government.

Perhaps CE-elect Carrie Lam can take him at his word for now, and see whether he can fulfill his promise after she assumes office.

Some so-called Leung fans who were present at the event said CY isn’t cold-hearted and ruthless as many people think. There is indeed a warm side of his character, they said, adding that the huge turnout at the farewell party is proof that people recognize the virtues of the outgoing CE.

They also added that Leung would definitely have had no difficulty in finding the right people to join his governing team if he had sought re-election and won because so many elites in the society would be eager to work for him.

That comment, too, might also have an overtone of sarcasm. It is because since Lam was elected CE, she has never reached out to any of the “Leung fans”, let alone offered them government positions, and there has been talk that she has encountered a lot of difficulties recruiting for her administration.

As Lam would have heard that comment now, it’s anyone’s guess as to whether she would start thinking about tapping into that vast pool of talent made up of “Leung fans” when making key personnel appointments.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on June 12

Translation by Alan Lee with additional reporting

[Chinese version 中文版]

– Contact us at [email protected]

RC

Columnist of Hong Kong Economic Journal.

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