• Fri
  • Dec 26, 2014
  • Updated: 11:40pm
PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 November, 2013, 11:56pm
UPDATED : Friday, 01 November, 2013, 11:56pm

Unlikeable Leung gets flak all round

Michael Chugani says Leung Chun-ying has done a lot in his first year, but as an unlikeable leader heis criticised for everything he does


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.

I never thought I would say this, but I feel sorry for Leung Chun-ying. No, I am not a "Leung fun" - a new Cantonese expression, often used scornfully, that means a Leung fan. We've met several times but only on a professional level. Like others who've had contact with him, I found him difficult to size up.

I feel sorry for him simply because he gets flak for whatever he does. He's the opposite of the late Ronald Reagan, who was known as the "Teflon president" because no flak ever stuck. With Leung, everything sticks, often undeservedly. Forget praise, he doesn't even get grudging acknowledgement for the things he does right.

Let's look at some of the things he's got flak for - national education, the Manila hostage tragedy, the housing shortage, and the issuing of two instead of three free-to-air TV licences. National education wasn't even his idea, the housing shortage worsened before he took office, the Manila hostage tragedy was left unresolved by the previous administration, and the three applications for TV licences were made well before his time in office but, for whatever reason, were not issued. Leung inherited all of these politically charged issues.

Now let's look at the things he's done, and tried to do, in the 16 months he's been in office. He stopped mainland mothers from having babies in the city, ended the baby-milk-powder shortage, scrapped national education due to huge public opposition, secured a meeting with Philippine President Benigno Aquino to discuss the Manila tragedy, cooled the property market, set a poverty line, mapped out a long-term plan to ease the housing shortage, issued a blueprint to clean up our air, and doubled the number of free-to-air TV licences. Yet James Tien Pei-chun of the Liberal Party described him as the worst of our post-handover chief executives.

If impartially judged, Leung has actually achieved more than his predecessors and he's only a quarter of the way through his term. But that's the trouble; few judge him impartially, least of all the pan-democrats.

There's an old joke about Reagan: during a storm at sea he walked on water to save others. But the next day the liberal media reported: "Reagan can't swim". As the "Teflon president" he got away with a lot. Leung is our "fly paper chief executive". Everything sticks.

Has our politicised society become so demanding that it has lost its sense of reasoning? Or is it simply that Leung is an unlikeable leader? It's a mixture of both, but more so the latter. The way media and opposition politicians have been hounding Leung betrays an intense personal dislike for the man. He has a tough time winning loyalty even from many in the pro-establishment camp.

Since the TV licence controversy erupted I've asked myself numerous times: what if only Ricky Wong Wai-kay won a licence? We would have three instead of four free-to-air stations. Would that have sparked the uproar we're now seeing? Definitely not. It's Leung the man, not his policies, that's tearing our society apart. Many want him toppled. But we lack the good sense to understand we're only hurting ourselves by making our society ungovernable.

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


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This article is now closed to comments

John Adams
I supported CY for CE only because the alternative of Henry Tang was just too awful.
Tang would have ushered in another 5 years of Donald Tsang's pathetic : "I'll get the job done" ethos, which we all now know meant meant : "I will not do anything that rocks the (tycoon) boat" .
Indeed, CY has done a lot of good things in his first year and please give him full credit for it , except that he has not yet learned to smile like Reagan and many of his ministers are walking disasters.
I just wonder why CY ever wanted this this awful job as our CE : after all CY is quite rich and this is probably one of the most thankless jobs in HK - if not the world.
I can only conclude that under that severe, unsmiling face there's a warm and sincere heart that beats for HK and its people, and that decades later history will judge CY as having done more good for HK long term than all the previous years under old Tung and Donald Tsang.
Well.... I do sincerely hope that's the case , otherwise we are well and truly f-u-c-k-e-d
Someone has at last come out to set the record straight. Why should we care even if he is a closit commie if he can get the job done? One of the only other people who seems to know what he is talking about is Tsang Yok-shing. There seems to be a derth of intellectual talent anywhere else. No wonder HK people are nostalgic for the past.
This is all because people deeply believe that CY is an underground member of the Chinese communist party . It is funny to note that the cold war against communists by the Western world has long ended but that in HK has only just started.
Mr Chugani, your points are fair and spot on. Imagine Hong Kong becomes ungovernable and things just collapse, who will suffer? The tycoons? I am not the "fan" of anyone, I just want the best for Hong Kong, perhaps just a wishful HK fan.
I had a very brief encounter perhaps lasted less than one minute with CY Leung quite some years ago when he was an Executive Council member in Tung’s administration. It was just a happenstance that I was on my way to drop off a copy of a letter to his office in Central that I had faxed earlier to SCMP’s Letter to Editor Column. I think it was a letter that I complained about his photo shoot in SCMP sticking his head underneath a car signaling there was no air pollution brought on by cars in Hong Kong.
Leung, without knowing the content of that letter, he smiled, graciously accepted the letter and we shook hands under the vast underpass of HKSBC where we crossed path.
Not because of this rarest experience, it is easy for everybody else in Hong Kong to support Leung as our Chief Executive. He is miraculously doing OK despite the poor helps within his administration. CY Leung will continue hearing from me.
Facts doesnt matter in HK anymore..... cause increasingly locals are nothing more than slogan chanting idiots.
And James Tien? Still **** off that his boy toy Henry Tang didn't become CE.
jason roto
Mr.Chugani, you are definitely right about some things, but also seem to leave out or not see some of the things locals are feeling. The closet commie thing isn't even one of the main problems people have with Leung. First off, nobody trusts him because he has told lies since the elections, and omitted facts. Many of his interviews consist of him dodging questions and further **** people off by pretty much brushing off issues.
About the TV thing, people aren't hating on Leung. People are mad because his decision betrayed some of the most important core values amongst the Hong Kong people; following rules and regulations, encouraging entrepreneurship in the city, transparency. Ricky Wong was promised that as long as he met certain criteria, he would be able to receive a license. The government dragged the license issuing for a long time, offered to let him rent land to build a TV station, and then denied him a license. Leung had the final say, and used laws to prevent the public from knowing why. Ricky claims to have fulfilled the criteria.
I'm sorry I'm not the best writer, so I encourage you to look more into it, you'll realize there are reasons wy 120k people protested last month, and 50k and 40k this month came out. I'm sure you know lots about what's going on since you're a journalist, but this article made me feel like you were only looking at these things at face value, and were ignorant in terms of knowing some of the implications and reasons behind the hate.
He inherited the TV issues? C'mon! You're no more than another Leung Fun in disguise!
Maybe CY should learn the smart trick from Obama by removing the current No.2 of HK Gov and invite Henry Tang to take over (like how Obama takes Clinton on board his administration right after his first election), and also put Albert Ho in his administration's core think table. At least he can get some more Henry and Albert fans and not look so ugly like right now! It'd be a miracle if he can survive a second term with this level of unpopularity.


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