Donald Tsang

No honeymoon for C.Y. Leung after all

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 31 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 31 May, 2012, 12:00am


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So, the honeymoon was over even before it started. The latest University of Hong Kong poll found that public support for chief executive-elect Leung Chun-ying plummeted 10 percentage points to 46 per cent in less than a month. The result roughly tallied with the 46.8 per cent popularity rating found in a separate poll by Chinese University.

HKU pollster Dr Robert Chung Ting-yiu attributed the sharp drop to skirmishes that Leung and his top aide, Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun, have had with the pan-democrats in the legislature over their government restructuring plans and the lawmakers' filibustering tactics. These antics might have turned off many people, but they are to be expected from troublesome lawmakers such as Wong Yuk-man. They appeal to their core constituencies if not mainstream voters. But the aggressive confrontation by Leung and Law rather exposes their willingness to play hard ball, even before C.Y. takes office on July 1.

They have overestimated their base of support, and neglected the resistance they are bound to face in any official initiative. It is also unfortunate that Leung deploys Law to spearhead his agenda in Legco. Law, a former ICAC commissioner who resigned over official criticism from a commission of inquiry into her actions as the number two education official in charge of school reform, has been one of the most polarising political figures since the handover. You could hardly expect lawmakers to treat her with kid gloves.

Leung and Law are not wrong to assume that the public is fed up with the current administration. But they have neglected to build up support and goodwill in and outside of Legco. They should have spent this transition period consulting and making peace. Instead, they act like they are taking over early and risk squandering what public goodwill Leung might have enjoyed since winning the election in March.

Retiring Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen enjoyed an initial period of popularity in his first term. Many people, too, thought he would do better than his predecessor Tung Chee-hwa. Leung may not have that luxury any more.