Leung Chun-ying, also known as CY Leung, is the chief executive of Hong Kong. He was born in 1954 and assumed office on July 1, 2012. During the controversial 2012 chief executive election, underdog Leung unexpectedly beat Henry Tang, the early favourite to win, after Tang was discredited in a scandal over an illegal structure at his home.
Leung's poor showing at Legco forum makes it hard to move on
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying is facing a deepening crisis after his explanation for the illegal structures at his home failed to satisfy lawmakers from across the political spectrum. Apart from repeatedly apologising for what he described as negligence in the way he has handled the fiasco, the top leader stopped short of offering more than his 14-page written statement issued two weeks ago. He has, regrettably, missed the opportunity to clear the air once and for all. Even if he is likely to survive a non-binding motion of no-confidence tabled in the Legislative Council today, the road ahead for his governance will be difficult.
Leung's appearance in Legco was disappointing. Although he did try to address some of the queries, he remained evasive and unrepentant during the 90-minute session. He continued to dodge questions on whether another property in Stanley had unauthorised fixtures. When asked why he claimed he had no illegal structures during the election, a defensive Leung retorted that, to the best of his recollection, he never said that. The statement inevitably gives the impression that he is shirking responsibility. Even the pro-government camp lamented that he had failed to offer a contrite apology.
The latest opinion poll shows that Leung's support rating already plunged three points to 49.2, out of 100, after he issued the written clarification. That suggests the public was dissatisfied with his account.
If he intended to use the Legco forum to restore confidence in his integrity, he seemingly has done more damage. Doubts remain whether he has sought to cover up illegal structures during and after the campaign. The sentiments were reflected in radio phone-in programmes yesterday, with many callers urging him to quit. But some said he should be given a chance.
So far there is no sign that Leung is losing Beijing's support. But the momentum to launch impeachment and a mass January 1 rally against Leung's leadership is gathering pace. Although some pro-government lawmakers say they are inclined to side with the pan-democrats in today's debate, the non-binding motion is unlikely to be passed.
It is unfortunate that the brewing controversy has prevented the government from getting on with the more pressing business at hand. It is imperative now that Leung find a way to restore people's belief in his integrity. Otherwise it will be difficult for Hong Kong to move forward.