Leung Chun Ying

Thrown to the wolves of public opinion

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 14 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 14 July, 2012, 12:00am


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People who think they are wolves may just be sheep waiting for the slaughter. During the election for the chief executive, the hands-down favourite, Henry Tang Ying-yen, was called a pig while Leung Chun-ying, the dark horse, was the wolf. Now Leung, the eventual winner, has a chance of experiencing what it is like to be thrown like meat to the real wolves, the Hong Kong public.

There have been grumbles about Cultural Revolution tactics being used against Leung and his officials. But it's useless for a political leader to complain if he can't handle the public and the media; that's his job. Hong Kong does not lack great entrepreneurs and competent civil servants; what we don't have is professional and charismatic politicians. The democrat Martin Lee Chu-ming may once have fitted the bill, alas!

A chief executive officer does not a chief executive make. It's remarkable how politically naive Leung really is, despite his success in the private sector. His attempt to revamp the government before he took office now looks quaint and quixotic. His political team should have predicted they would face crisis after crisis and relentless opposition from all quarters.

Days before Development Secretary Mak Chai-kwong was arrested by graft busters, Leung allowed Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor to defend Mak as trustworthy and deserving of the post. What unwolf-like behaviour! They should have thrown him to the wolves, so to speak, as soon as the scandal broke about his alleged housing allowance abuse.

Our city has many of the institutions and entrenched traditions that will support full democracy should it ever arrive on our shores. But political talent, like great competitive swimmers, must come from contest. This will only come from the trenches of campaigning in genuinely democratic elections. Perhaps then we will find democratic stars who will figure out a way to work with Beijing while defending Hong Kong's real interests.

There is no shame in trying to work with Beijing. Even powerful countries around the world have to find ways to accommodate this rising power, let alone us. So let's be realistic.