Hong Kong leader-elect gets down to business
HONG KONG HONG KONG’S chief executive- elect Leung Chun-ying got down to business on Monday after winning the most divisive leadership election the city has seen since the 1997 handover to China.
He began assembling his team, met officials at the Chinese government’s liaison office and promised a smooth transition from the administration of outgoing Chief Executive Donald Tsang.
Leung said he discussed the formulation of his administration, which must be approved by Beijing, during his talks with mainland officials.“ I would like to gather as good a team as Hong Kong can offer, and it’s important that I do that as quickly as I can,” he said, adding he would visit Beijing soon to “initiate the process”.
Leung, 57, garnered 689 votes from the 1,200-strong election committee, stacked with pro-Beijing tycoons and members of the political class, to be anointed as incoming chief executive on Sunday.
He promised to “reunite” Hong Kong and protect its “rights and freedoms” following an election which split the city’s establishment camp and forced Beijing to heed popular opinion as never before.
Pro-democracy protesters condemned the election as a farce and demanded full suffrage for the semiautonomous former British colony, which is ruled by Beijing according to the One Country, Two Systems principle.
But Tsang, whose public approval ratings are low after seven years in office, said the election “underlines the success of One Country, Two Systems”.
“It is also an important milestone in our constitutional development,” said the bow-tie wearing career bureaucrat whose term expires in June.
Leung is only the city’s third post-handover chief executive and could be the last to be chosen in a so-called small-circle election, if China honours its pledge to allow full suffrage by the time his first term ends in 2017.
A policeman’s son turned self-made property guru and veteran government adviser, Leung is nicknamed “The Wolf” due to perceptions of his ruthless cunning and inscrutable intelligence.
He lived up to his reputation throughout the election campaign, which he began as a rank outsider compared to Henry Tang, the son of a textile tycoon whom most believed had Beijing’s blessing to walk into the leadership job.
But Tang’s campaign imploded in scandals including a confession of marital infidelity and the discovery of an illegal entertainment suite at his luxury home, sending his approval ratings plummeting.
This left Leung the nextbest choice for Beijing despite reservations from the city’s business elite about his populist promises to address soaring property prices, and persistent rumours that he is a secret communist.
Observers said that with only 58 percent of the election committee’s vote, the man commonly known as CY could not rest on his laurels.
“The immediate challenge facing Leung is daunting. He has to bridge an unprecedented political divide arising from the cut-throat race between the two pro-establishment camps,” the South China Morning Post wrote.
It noted that he received only 17.8 percent of the vote in a mock election by the University of Hong Kong on Saturday. More than half of the 223,000 voters rejected all the candidates and returned blank ballots.
“Had there been a popular vote, it would have been inconclusive,” the Post said.