C.Y. faces first unity test as kuk calls for amnesty
Tanna Chong and Colleen Lee
Leung Chun-ying faces the first test of his ability to unify the city. Rural kingpin Lau Wong-fat has called for an amnesty on illegal structures in the New Territories in order to achieve reconciliation.
That creates a dilemma for the chief executive-elect, given that he was much tougher on illegal structures during the election campaign than loser Henry Tang Ying-yen.
Heung Yee Kuk chairman Lau urged the incoming administration to accept all additions to village houses so that Leung could achieve the reconciliation he has been calling for. Lau was speaking for the first time since the Development Bureau began a crackdown on illegal structures in the New Territories on April 1.
'The government should tolerate illegal structures that don't pose an immediate danger. An amnesty would be a good way to create unity and reconciliation,' Lau said. 'If the New Territories sees the first blood, I won't congratulate him [Leung]. We want a soft landing [approach to solving the illegal-structures problem].'
Flanked by Lew Mon-hung, a high-profile supporter of Leung who also advocated an amnesty, Lau said villagers wanted 'a balance between sentiment, reasoning and law'.
'[The order] cannot be law, reasoning and sentiment ... we won't be able to argue our case on legal grounds.'
The kuk originally supported Tang in the election, but backed Leung in the March 25 poll.
While Leung has not made a firm proposal to settle the issue, he is known for his tough stance on illegal structures, in contrast with Tang's tolerance of them. Leung said in January: 'We should act in accordance with the law. There is only one set of laws in Hong Kong. We cannot say there is a set of laws on Hong Kong [Island] and Kowloon, and another in the New Territories.'
Under a 1972 policy, every male indigenous villager in the New Territories is granted the right to build a small house at the age of 18.
Meanwhile, in a survey Leung scored just 2.72 out of 5 for his ability to 'resolve conflicts and unify Hongkongers'. Some 1,143 people responded to a poll by the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong. He scored highest - 2.98 out of 5 - on the question of trust in him to maintain a clean government.
His predecessor Tung Chee-hwa believes Leung can take the city forward. 'He's got compassion and is a very competent person. He will be a good leader,' Tung said in a television interview. Tung, seen as a Leung supporter, said the election had been open, fair and 'hotly contested'.
Leung sought a reconciliation within the Beijing-loyalist camp on Thursday when he had dinner with 21 pro-government lawmakers. Tang supporter Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung, of Economic Synergy, said he had asked Leung at the dinner if he might take revenge against those who did not back him in the election. According to Lam, Leung smiled and said: 'I know you are kidding ... In this age, how could revenge still exist?''