New chief executive will have to rebuild trust of sceptical Hong Kong citizens

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 March, 2012, 12:00am


Although the chief executive election produced a mandate for Leung Chun-ying to govern Hong Kong in the next five years, his mandate is naturally limited because of the 'small-circle election'.

The election campaign brought out so many scandals and revelations that the entire political system of Hong Kong is heading towards deep distrust in the coming years.

In view of the deep rift between the two pro-establishment camps, it is a gigantic task for the incoming chief executive to heal the political wounds.

The new batch of principal officials, including the likely newly created undersecretaries, will have to balance various political forces. But, since the democrats vow to refrain from joining the new government, Leung will face the challenge of absorbing some elites from the defeated Henry Tang Ying-yen camp or the business sector.

Moreover, some civil servants appear to distrust Leung, whose idea of expanding the number of principal officials may raise their concerns about the proliferation of political bosses.

Given the vast number of ordinary citizens who participated in a mock vote expressed their dissatisfaction with the small-circle election, Leung will face a daunting task to persuade Beijing that direct election of the chief executive as early as 2017 will not really undermine the interests of the central government.

Many ordinary citizens are now distrustful of political leaders. How to rebuild the trust of citizens toward political leaders will remain a priority of Leung, whose policies towards political reform and Article 23 of the Basic Law will test his degree of autonomy vis-a-vis the central government in Beijing.

Finally, the people of Hong Kong will adopt a wait-and-see attitude towards the concrete policy proposals to be formulated by the new government, including housing, social welfare, and poverty alleviation.

The new batch of principal officials will really encounter a huge challenge of winning the hearts and minds of the populace in the next five years.

They will have to interact with citizens in a more direct and grass-roots manner so that their appointment by the new chief executive will become a real mandate of regaining the political trust of the masses.

Sonny Lo, professor, department of social sciences,Hong Kong Institute of Education