How the Leung family is making the govt more unpopular

April 27, 2016 16:18
Baggage-gate could be the last straw on the camel's back, shutting the door to a second term for Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying. Photo: HKEJ

Once again, the people of Hong Kong are showing their commitment to upholding the core values of the city.

There's been widespread coverage of Leung Chun-ying's younger daughter having a bag she left behind brought to her at a departure gate, bypassing normal security procedures, after he and his wife spoke to staff at the airport.

Political observers now speculate whether "Baggage-gate" could be the last straw on the camel's back, shutting the door to a second term for Hong Kong's chief executive.

If the Communist Party believes the public opinion poll conducted by the University of Hong Kong, its leaders should be searching for a new leader for Hong Kong after July 1, 2017, as Leung's performance not only has failed to unify different groups in Hong Kong but has sparked fierce opposition to the authorities in Beijing, distorting the implementation of one country two systems.

HKU's public opinion program announced Tuesday the latest popularity figures for Leung and his administration.

Leung’s latest support rating has dropped 2 points to 39.6, which remains below the warning line of 45.

His approval rating stands at 22 percent and disapproval rating at 63 percent, giving a net popularity of minus 41 percentage points, 9 percentage points less than early this month.

So, Leung's overall popularity declined significantly in the second half of April, perhaps because of Baggage-gate.

The poll figures show Hong Kong government's popularity has slightly dropped from a month ago.

Its satisfaction rating now stands at 23 percent and dissatisfaction rating at 54 percent, giving a net satisfaction rate of minus 31 percentage points, the lowest since June 2012.

Hongkongers absolutely hate people abusing their power for their personal convenience or interest.

That's why they welcomed the setting up of the Independent Commission Against Corruption.

The people of Hong Kong want a fair, transparent and just society.

But Baggage-gate suggests the airline and airport staff bowed to pressure from Leung and his wife.

His daughter enjoyed the privilege of not having to accompany her baggage when it eventually underwent a security check, contrary to the rules that apply to most other people.

The Airport Authority's report on the incident disclosed that Leung's wife told the airport staff, who were trying to enforce the security rules, that she would take the bag to her daughter at the departure gate herself and rushed toward the immigration checkpoint.

The report also contradicted statements made by the chief executive and his family members.

For example, Leung said he did not bring up his official capacity in a conversation with an airline employee, but the report said the airline staff had recognized his daughter and urged the authority to deal with the issue.

What's more, Leung tried to confuse the public, equating his daughter's special treatment with other cases of "courtesy delivery" at the airport, arguing such arrangements are common.

But the fact is that such deliveries are only for objects sent to the lost-and-found office, and the owners are still required to accompany their items during the security check.

While the authority clearly wanted to help Leung, it ended up showing he was being economical with the truth in his explanations to the public.

The government hoped the airport authority's report would settle the controversy once and for all.

But it only indicated that Leung may need to work much harder to dispel any suspicions among the public that he abused his power to bypass strict aviation security checks.

Leung shifted the focus by complaining that Next Magazine reporters "disturbed" his daughter on the campus of Stanford University, where she is studying.

Did Next Magazine do anything wrong to send reporters to get her comments on the airport incident? Of course not.

The magazine was an easy target for Leung, since it already has a bad reputation among Beijing loyalists.

But it was too obvious an attempt by him to change the subject.

Still his remarks showed Leung's lack of respect for journalists who were doing their job, as well as a blatant attempt to interfere with a local media outlet's coverage.

That could further hurt his popularity among the better-educated younger Hongkongers.

The HKU poll showed that more people in all age groups oppose Leung rather than support him.

In the 18-29 age group, 91 percent of respondents oppose Leung, while even among the more conservative group of respondents aged 50 or above, half oppose him.

Leung has not only failed to win over young Hongkongers by his critical approach to sensitive topics like the discussion of Hong Kong independence; he has also failed to win the trust of older Hongkongers despite allotting money to boost medical and transport subsidies for the elderly.

Still, Leung has not hidden his intention to run for a second term.

While the public focuses on his family for their selfishness and abuse of power at the airport, his supporters, or maybe his media advisers, have started a new online campaign in a local discussion forum to praise Leung for the good job he has done for the underprivileged in Hong Kong.

But the fact is that the pro-Leung group is a minority in the community, and he still needs to face the majority.

What Leung needs to do is apologize to the public for his family's behavior during the baggage saga.

The people of Hong Kong just don't like the chief executive placing himself above the regulations and procedures others have to abide by.

That's what the rule of law is about, isn't it? 

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EJ Insight writer