Hong Kong’s next Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying was elected controversially. Many political commentators argue that Hong Kong’s political freedom has worsened each year since its return to the People’s Republic of China in 1997. Others suggested manipulation of leadership from Beijing, claiming that Leung had the secret endorsement of China’s former Chairman Jiang Zemin before 2000. The Economist called him the Manchurian candidate.
Yet as a longtime observer of Hong Kong politics, I will shun these pessimistic views and I predict a future stronger democracy in the region. Five years from now, Hong Kong will choose its top leader through direct elections. The 1,193-member Election Committee marks a smooth transition toward that goal. China’s central and local governments proclaim that they are fully committed to promoting Hong Kong’s constitutional development. After the central government’s important approval, the Special Administrative Region (SAR) is now gradually moving toward the ultimate aim of universal suffrage.
Like the coverage of Putin’s recent reelection, the People’s Daily also had a live blog covering the election on March 25, 2012 to people in mainland China. Through social media, the idea of democracy will spread like wild fire. The delegated voting percentage of each candidate in the actual election roughly reflects public opinion.
Hong Kong’s citizens delegated their choice of leadership to 1200 representatives, which is unlike Taiwan’s direct elections. Ma Ying-jeou, the recently reelected president of Taiwan, congratulated Leung’s success, “We will work together for increased trade relations and a better China.”
Even though Leung is a candidate from the pro-establishment bloc of Hong Kong politics, he holds populist views on issues such as taming Hong Kong housing prices. Leung’s story of rags-to-riches also inspires many people.
Yet other people are dubious of Leung’s populist policies, representing him as a “wolf” with secret ideological motives. Some even suggested that Leung is a secret Communist member based on tenuous connections. For example, the People’s Daily called him “Comrade Leung,” a Twitter user stated.
Accusing Leung to have the most unpopular ideology in Hong Kong based on these premises is a step too far. They do not take into account that one of Leung’s contestants Henry Tang, from the pro-business Liberal Party, also held grassroot-based views.
Cody Chang CMC ’13, who studied abroad in Hong Kong last semester, agrees with Leung’s policy issues. “The media elite of Hong Kong attack Leung because they do not understand the gravity of wage differences.”
“At least Leung does not have a lot of scandalous affairs like Henry Tang,” comments Sze Wai Yuen CMC ’12, a Hong Kong native. Henry Tang admitted that he had an extra-marital affair with Shirley Yuen, his administrative assistant when he was finance secretary of Hong Kong. His wife publicly forgave him afterwards, but more rumors troubled his campaign.
As the model Confucius son, husband, and father, Leung’s family means very much to him. All of Leung’s three sons have studied at prestigious British institutions, an achievement akin to that of the famous Bo Guagua. With traditional Chinese values in mind, Leung will most likely succeed as the next Chief Executive.
Editor’s note: Happy April Fools’ Day!