Trust lacking

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 26 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 26 November, 2011, 12:00am


Hong Kong people have to accept that the chief executive election race between former chief secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen and former Executive Council convener Leung Chun-ying is a choice not of who's best, but of who's the least bad.

In a recent article in a Chinese-language daily, veteran commentator Lee Yee called it a choice between 'a pig and a wolf'. His views were echoed in less harsh descriptions by former Bar Association chairman Edward Chan King-sang, who is running for a seat in the legal sub-sector of the Election Committee that selects the chief executive.

If Hong Kong people were ever forced to make a choice in this political animal farm, I believe they would prefer a dog, for its loyalty; Hongkongers want a chief executive with credibility.

Although Leung seems to have higher popularity ratings than Tang, the public still doesn't trust him completely. His strong approval ratings are merely the result of successful electioneering work, which began years ago.

He still has a long way to go to earn the trust of Hongkongers. First, they know he has refused to respond recently to claims that he is a Chinese Communist Party member. Obviously, he is concerned that such a revelation, if true, would have a negative impact on his image and popularity as most locals have a morbid fear of communism.

When Leung was Exco convenor, he constantly attacked government policies which he had helped to formulate. Furthermore, the public will not forget that he was also responsible for many of the policy errors and much of the poor governance of the previous and present administrations.

Leung can never erase the painful memories of the fact that he supported former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa's notorious pledge of 85,000 new public housing flats that brought down the property market in Hong Kong. He doesn't seem to have learned his lesson, either, and has suggested a similar policy of providing 35,000 flats per year to ease market demand, as well as reinstating the Home Ownership Scheme.

Several years ago, Leung said categorically he would not run for the top post, but in fact he was already paving the way for a bid. That again shows he is not a trustworthy leader.

Although Leung tries to paint a very pro-people image, he has had intricate property-developer connections. In 2001, Chinachem Group went to court to dispute the hefty premium and penalty the government imposed on it for its delayed completion of Nina Tower.

During litigation, Leung, who had acted as a consultant for Chinachem on the project, testified in favour of Chinachem and claimed the company was promised by the former secretary for planning that it would not be penalised for delays. But the courts upheld the premium and penalty.

Under the principles of 'one country, two systems' and 'Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong', as well as the gradual move towards democracy, the people will eventually have a say in choosing the top leader. No doubt they will want someone they can trust and look up to.

Albert Cheng King-hon is a political commentator.