Leung Chun-ying

Leung Chun-ying 'has no magic wand' for Hong Kong's problems

Chief executive says he inherited some serious issues from last administration, and that there is no quick way to turn them around

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 06 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 06 October, 2012, 10:02am

Chief executive Leung Chun-ying yesterday defended his flagging popularity and said he had inherited many problems from the previous administration. There was no "magic wand" that would quickly turn things around, he said.

Leung, whose performance rating fell below the "pass" mark of 50 for the first time in a recent poll, likened the problems to a game of chess that was begun by his predecessor Donald Tsang Yam-kuen.

Leung said his performance over the past three months should be compared to that of the last leg of Tsang's administration from April to June, as both leaders dealt with similar political conditions and problems.

"My administration is not playing a new game of chess, but a game that existed on June 30 [the day before Leung took office], a game that was already under way," Leung said.

A Chinese University poll of 700 respondents, which was released on Thursday, put Leung's rating in September at 48.8 out of 100 - a few points above Tsang's score of 41.8 in the same survey in June, his last month in office.

"Hong Kong's issues are not problems that can be solved in a matter of days. It will take two years to turn around or to stop the downward trend," said Leung, who will mark his 100th day in office on Monday.

"If someone believes he has a magic wand, I want to hear about it. But in the past three months, I haven't seen a magic wand," he said at a lunch with the press.

Asked if he thought he had "inherited a mess", Leung stressed he was not criticising Tsang but saying his own administration could only continue to confront reality, including the shortage of homes and a slack economy.

(While Leung spoke of a shortage of homes, Tsang, in his 2011 policy address, said the city had 2.6 million homes for its 2.35 million households.)

Leung said: "Some Hongkongers may think we don't need to worry about doing business, and that our tourism industry will be blooming forever. Do we ever imagine that we will suddenly lack tourists one day?"

During the "golden week" holiday, the number of foreign tourists plunged more than 20 per cent compared to last year, and the number of visitors overall would have dropped if not for mainland tour groups, he said. According to immigration statistics, a total of 550,932 mainland tourists arrived from October 1 to 4, representing a 9.8 per cent increase year on year.

Leung denied the public had lost trust in the government in the wake of big protests against national education and a string of housing scandals that implicated him and his top ministers.

Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor broke down in tears in a televised interview last month, attributing her fall in popularity to the public's distrust of Leung and the city's increasing conflict with the mainland.

Leung refused to comment on a report that Paul Chan Mo-po had got behind the wheel of his car on Tuesday after drinking alcohol at a lunch. Leung said he would discuss the matter after a police investigation.

Chan, meanwhile, told RTHK his car "definitely did not cross [a] double white line", rebutting an Apple Daily report - with a picture - that suggested otherwise.

He also criticised paparazzi for following him and his family.

Leung said ministers and civil servants were co-operative and had high morale - allowing him to roll out a series of livelihood and housing measures in his first 100 days.

On October 17, Leung will address the new Legislative Council for the first time on his vision for Hong Kong's development.

Additional reporting by Stuart Lau