Leung owes HK people an explanation and apology

June 24, 2015 16:01
CY Leung, though his utterances and actions, has deepened the divisions in Hong Kong society. Photo: Reuters

Nearly a week after the botched electoral reform vote, Hong Kong's pro-establishment camp is still reeling from ignominy and severe loss of face.

With 33 lawmakers absent during the vote after a farcical walkout, questions have been raised about the competence of Beijing loyalists and whether they can think clearly on vital issues at stake.

Meanwhile, some conspiracy theories have also begun to do the rounds as lawmakers point fingers at each other and try to avoid taking the responsibility for the June 18 fiasco.

Amid this situation, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying is seeking wriggle room by talking about some "technical" issues that led to the electoral reform plan getting rejected in a 28-8 vote.

"There were some technical questions on the day of vote," Leung said Tuesday ahead of a weekly meeting of the Executive Council. "Unfortunately, the bill was vetoed by a minority."

Even though the opponents were in a minority, the bill failed to get approved "due to the Basic Law’s two-third requirement," Leung said, referring to the "yes" votes necessary to pass a legislation.

Aiming to prevent further damage to the reputation of the pro-establishment camp, and to soothe the anger of Beijing, Leung said the bill would have failed regardless of how many pro-establishment lawmakers took part in the vote.

He has a point, but does that absolve him of the blame for the events that unfolded? 

As head of the administration, Leung should have been brave and owned up responsibility for the failure of the political reform plan, especially given that the package was introduced during his helm.

He has no reason to point fingers at the pan-democrat lawmakers, labeling them as a minority in the legislature, as well as blame the procedures outlined in the Basic Law with regard to new legislation.

The stark truth is that many Hong Kong people have been fretting about getting deprived of a right to choose their leader in a free election.

Under the framework mandated by China's National People's Congress, civic nomination of candidates was not allowed, and only two or three Beijing-friendly contenders could join the race in the chief executive election.

The Leung administration has done nothing to fight for a revision of the NPC framework, or ensure civic nominating right to Hong Kong people.

Instead, it has been urging the locals to take whatever was on offer -- Beijing's plan would have enabled Hong Kong people to choose their leader directly but the choice would be limited to a few pre-screened contenders -- and try to seek improvements in the system in the future.

Ignoring the wishes of almost half the city's population, the Leung government had tried to push through a flawed universal suffrage package and please the Communist leadership in Beijing.  

Now, after the rejection of the plan in the Legislative Council and the screw-up by the pro-establishment camp, Leung is facing several other uncomfortable questions. 

With three Executive Council members among the 33 lawmakers who were absent from Legco during the vote last Thursday, Leung has failed to condemn the action of his colleagues.

With no moves made to fire the errant Exco members, Leung has shown that he is incapable of fixing any responsibility.  

As the key person to implement the "one country, two systems", the chief executive is required to uphold the Hong Kong autonomy as well as strike a balance between the interests of Hong Kong and Beijing.

However, Leung has proved that he lacks the ability to keep things under control. 

The chief executive has been stressing for a long time that he has a constitutional responsibility to push for the electoral reform, but the fact is that he has done nothing but to split the society further.

During the consultation period on the electoral reform plan, he sought to constantly humiliate the opposition camp, instead of building ties and ensuring a proper two-way dialogue.

In the process, he also failed to bridge the gap between Beijing and Hong Kong, while pouring cold water on Hong Kong people's desire for a fair, open and transparent electoral framework.

Now, in the wake of the failed Legco vote, the least that Leung can do is offer an apology to the public.

But does he have the moral courage to do so?  

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EJ Insight writer