• Tue
  • Sep 23, 2014
  • Updated: 9:38am
PUBLISHED : Saturday, 29 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 01 July, 2013, 8:15am

This July 1, we will be marching to the beat of different drums

Michael Chugani says next Monday will see one set of protesters pitted against another, but the ultimate loser may well be Leung

BIO

Michael Chugani is a Hong Kong-born American citizen who has worked for many years as a journalist in Hong Kong, the USA and London. Aside from being a South China Morning Post columnist he also hosts ATV’s Newsline show, a radio show and writes for two Chinese-language publications. He has published a number of books on politics which contain English and Chinese versions.
 

How many will march to mock Leung Chun-ying as a despised leader who should be dumped? How many will attend loyalist-organised events to mock the marchers as turncoats who would rather undermine the government than celebrate the 16th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to China? On Monday, we will know.

Turnout size takes on extra weight this year. For the first time, the loyalists are competing head-on with the July 1 marchers for hearts and minds with carnivals, shopping discounts and a pop concert. March for democracy under the sweltering sun or shop for discounted designer clothes in air-conditioned comfort? That is the question.

Organisers will, as usual, inflate turnout numbers. The police will, as usual, deflate them. Former chief secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang, dubbed the "sudden democrat" for staying silent about democracy while in government but becoming passionate about it after quitting, has said she will attend the march. When she joined a democracy march in 2007, she sneaked off to a hair salon after 10 minutes. Well, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. At least, she took the first few steps.

The July 1 protest march has now become a proud Hong Kong tradition. But the main thrust of this year's march baffles me. The annual event made its name in 2003 when 500,000 protested during the dark days of the severe acute respiratory syndrome epidemic, a property slump, a financial crisis and the government's push to enact unpopular national security legislation. The theme was clear: anger at the inept leadership of Tung Chee-hwa.

Subsequent marches mostly centred on the push for greater democracy. But this Monday's march takes aim more at Leung the man than his policies. Many Hongkongers despise him, that's for sure. They let this cloud their judgment of his achievements.

Earlier this week, he issued a progress report on his first year in office. It was not bad - ending mainlanders giving birth here, dealing with the milk powder shortage, stopping parallel goods traders, tough measures to cool the property market, land for affordable housing, and agreeing to a poverty line. He even drew bipartisan praise for his handling of the Edward Snowden affair.

But his report drew more boos than applause. In fact, protest organisers are using it to galvanise people to join. Critics slammed him for giving scant attention to universal suffrage. Leung believes livelihood issues should take priority over a public consultation on universal suffrage, which he says can wait until next spring. Opinion polls do show people care more about livelihood issues than democracy.

But the delay has put him on the defensive. He has done more on livelihood issues in his first year than was done in the entire terms of his predecessors. Still, his popularity has plunged to the depths suffered by Tung during the dark days of 2003.

March organisers expect a massive turnout, to demand Leung's downfall. If it does match that of 2003, there's only one explanation: it doesn't matter how much Leung does to improve the lives of the people - many still despise him.

Michael Chugani is a columnist and TV show host. mickchug@gmail.com

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This article is now closed to comments

maecheung
"Critics slammed him for giving scant attention to universal suffrage. Leung believes livelihood issues should take priority over a public consultation on universal suffrage, which he says can wait until next spring. Opinion polls do show people care more about livelihood issues than democracy."...
"He has done more on livelihood issues in his first year than was done in the entire terms of his predecessors. Still, his popularity has plunged."
All these show that most Hong Kong people are nothing but fools and trouble makers like Long Hair and WYM, just like to stir up s_-t for the sake of it. They have everything to gain in this 'troubled times'.
ubifrancehk
You are very kind with him... It is not only that he has not done anything for universal suffrage, he has also appointed well known pro-CCP figures as university heads, threatened the leaders of Occupy Central, tried to implement a shameful patriotic education program, has kept on with the practice of persecuting activists (Melody Chan !) etc. In a word, he is implementing a line set by Beijing and has turned Hong Kong into a 小政府. Even if he wanted to depart from this line, he couldn't not, as his administation lacks both unity and professionalism (see Regina Ip's recent comments) and is therefore unfit to oppose any kind of resistance.
maecheung
I am no fan of CY, but it's a fact that he is willing and did tackle the livelihood issues which was left by his predecessors and the colonial British government. Give him and his team time.
babyhenry
Thanks for showing how uninformed you truly are.
The national education program was passed during the Tsang administration, it was only left for Leung to implement which was passed in the previous administration. Tsang was certainly smart to leave this hot potato to Leung and now he gets all the blame alough it was never his fault in the first place.
But then what do blind clowns like you care? Maybe you are one of those fools who think that our property & political problem ONLY happened after 1997 but never was a issue that have been dragged for years and years under the British.
ubifrancehk
(I am not sure you'll get your 50 cents for this piece...)
blue
ubifrancehk you really are totally blind to all of the good that CY Leung has accomplished. CY certainly has a better track record than Obama on all counts.
ubifrancehk
Concrete facts please...
chaz_hen
He can't win for losing
 
 
 
 
 

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