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CommentInsight & Opinion

Opponents may regret forcing wounded Leung into a corner

Lau Nai-keung says government now has no option but to fight back

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 07 November, 2013, 8:39pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 07 November, 2013, 8:39pm

In Hong Kong, it's no longer clear who is governing. The ongoing free-to-air TV licence fiasco is just one glaring case in point.

Some people keep asking why the government granted only two licences instead of three, denying one to Hong Kong Television Network. If this is a valid question, then why not grant four or, for that matter, 400 licences?

An inexperienced and underfinanced set-up with an ambitious plan of operating 30 channels clearly deserved to be thrown out. But there are people who want to usurp this discretionary power of the executive, and by so doing undermine the tradition of the Executive Council together with the entire political system. This is a sure-fire prescription for anarchy.

The problem is that more and more people seem to buy this nonsense, including representatives of the Leung Chun-ying administration, with some Executive Council members joining the dissident chorus. In any case, the damaging leaks started dripping from day one. How can anyone conduct serious business in Exco any more?

The Hong Kong government now abhors making decisions because every one will invariably hurt somebody's interests and spark controversy.

The Hong Kong government now abhors making decisions because every one will invariably hurt somebody's interests and spark controversy

Whenever there is controversy, the government is put on the spot and whatever it says or does is bound to be wrong, so much so that it is afraid even to do the right thing, like deciding how many TV licences to grant and starting national education.

The last chief executive, Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, procrastinated and sat on these issues for years, passing the buck to Leung, who came under attack almost immediately after taking action.

Another controversy in the making is the government's plan to rezone part of the Central waterfront for military use, where the PLA pier is already being built. Under the 1994 Sino-British deal, it was agreed that the People's Liberation Army would build a military dock at the site, and the government said it was bound to honour this agreement. The PLA has said it plans to make the area available for public use most of the time.

The whole arrangement has been approved by the district and legislative councils; it is all legitimate and proper. But dissidents have blamed our weak government for not daring to stand up to the PLA, and a Town Planning Board public hearing is now under way.

Plainly, what is there to object to? Whatever the outcome, at the end of the day, can Leung tell the PLA: "Sorry, sirs, we cannot let you build your pier on this piece of land which is rightfully yours and was originally a pier, because a small group of people choose to disregard this fact and I don't know how to say no to them"?

Frankly speaking, the government has no grounds and no right to object. No consultation - public or otherwise - can change this.

It cannot help the Hong Kong government, and ultimately Leung, to pass the buck and save him from doing what is necessary.

Leung and his cabinet and counsel may not have perceived it, but objectively speaking, his government is now cornered. It cannot duck its responsibility, and has no way out except to fight back.

I have known CY for 30 years and one thing is certain: this man will not give up fighting. Now that he is pushed into a corner, he will fight back. He has to, and he will. He will stand there and take the punches, as he is doing now, but he will not quit.

This reminds me of the metaphor which our top leaders have recently used repeatedly with their American counterparts: a desperate rabbit will kick the eagle. Think twice before provoking CY any further.

Lau Nai-keung is a member of the Basic Law Committee of the NPC Standing Committee, and also a member of the Commission on Strategic Development

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This article is now closed to comments

lbsaw
C.Y. Leung was the underdog to Henry Tang when they were bidding for the CE Post. Fact that C.Y. Leung won the majority support of the Central Government clearly endorsed the confidence they have in him. Now that means C.Y. is expected to deliver what his predecessors failed to do. But C.Y. is just one person and depend on his team - executives in the civil service, EXCO, LEGCO and public concerns. Where he has erred in a decision, whether arising from his self making or collectively from the work of his team, it is important that C.Y. realised and take corrective actions to steer the ship in the right direction. A good and competent leader need to be able to recognise the errors and correct them and not be blinded by blinkered eqoistic views. This TV license issue is a matter that could have been addressed promptly and effectively but allowed to escalate due to indecisiveness and lack of leadership capabilities. C.Y. should not even feel that he has been push to a corner but should look at it objectively as to address the issue that was created by him and/or his team. He should take the appropriate action as a leader that will bring Hongkong forward, and not get personal or emotional. Two wrongs do not make one right.
clc2
The beauty of the market is that it makes decisions, itself, so that political poobahs like Lau Nai-keung won't need to.
When they do, then look for another motive.
The PLA Pier has nothing to do with the TV station, other than that the government is involved in both.
ann.wei.121
In Hong Kong, it's no longer clear who is governing ?
Strange, you do not know ? It is the Liaison Office of the Chinese Communist Party in Hong Kong, idiot ! It has been very clear ever since Leung Chun Ying being "elected" the CEO of Hong Kong, where did he go in the first instance to give thanks ? And further clear now. Who called the Legco members and gave orders how to vote ?
chapmanlung@gmail.com
I can't agree with you more. I think compared to his two predecessors CY has done a much better job. People seem to ignore the many problems he had inherited from the previous government which was dysfunctional at best. I think people should quit giving him a hard time and let him do his job. It’s very sad to see some people disillusioned by some corners of the media and some jokers they call politicians.
joyalsofi
"why not grant four or, for that matter, 400 licences?" Perhaps the obvious answer to that is that only three applications were received. The basic issue is not how many were issued but to which applicants and why. These are the answers many Hong Kong people want the leadership to address. If there was a concensus that the free TV market could not support five channels without compromising the overall quality of broadcasting standards, if they believe that corporations are preferable to individuals in this market, then say so. If they wanted to protect the existing licensees from bankruptcy, then this also should have been said. The idea that a clear and concise reply would violate Exco confidentiality is nonsense. A secret ballot is secret but the results are known and people are not prohibited from discussing the reasons for the way they voted.
chuchu59
If CY's 2 predecessors had done a poor job it is natural that he had performed better. That said, he has at least done something on the housing front but he has only himself to blame for shooting himself in the foot so many times. It does seem he is unable to talk straight to the public and I believe many will judge him as being evasive. He needs to do some soul-searching and ask why everyone is up in arms against him. If he learns from his mistakes and stop making blunders through poorly-crafted speeches, its not difficult to surpass his 2 predecessors. There may come a day when the Liaison Office decides he may have to face the opposition by himself. That's akin to letting a baby learn how to walk.

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