C.Y.'s double-talk ensures scandal won't go away
Is Leung Chun-ying a very good liar or is he just a chief executive who doesn't know how to tell the truth? Most people had expected - in fact, had hoped desperately - that his grilling at the Legislative Council on Monday would close the chapter on his illegal structures scandal. But Leung made himself his own enemy. In a monumental display of stupidity, he played with words - yet again. That played right into the hands of his critics, who have made it clear they want his blood. Why couldn't he have just taken a deep bow, appeared genuinely remorseful and confessed he had not told the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? Instead, he made himself even more of a target with his evasive answers and word games. That made him look like a liar even though he may not be one. Forgiving people need reasons to forgive. By failing to give them these reasons, he made the voice of his critics even shriller. What astounded even his supporters was his jaw-dropping claim that he never said he had no illegal structures when he attacked election rival Henry Tang Ying-yen for hiding a luxurious illegal basement. Doesn't he know, or haven't his advisers advised him, that now is not the time for double negatives but straight talk? So where do we go from here? Leung has squandered his best chance to earn forgiveness and silence his critics. He would look ridiculous returning to Legco or facing the media to atone. His critics will now settle for nothing less than his resignation. There's no way Leung will resign. Are we now facing unending political turmoil? Do seven million Hongkongers deserve that?
Beijing not bothered a bit by 800 protesters
Forget it, 800 just won't do. But despite days of hype, only that tiny number of people showed up at last Sunday's protest demanding the resignation of Leung. Police put it at half that. If the anti-Leung forces who organised the protest have any illusions that Beijing even bothered to take notice, we suggest they read WikiLeaks. There, it is revealed that Shiu Sin-por, the new head of the government's secretive Central Policy Unit, told the Americans a while back that Beijing would consider a protest significant if it attracted at least 50,000 people, but would take notice only if 100,000 turned up. The anti-Leung forces are organising another rally on New Year's Day to demand he resign. Will 100,000 turn up? We don't think so. Hong Kong is already suffering from protest fatigue.
Leung must prove he can stand up to high and mighty
Will the government kowtow to the property tycoons yet again? We'll soon know. Leung had implicitly indicated before and after the chief executive election that he would stare down the tycoons if necessary to bring about the changed social order he promised. Well, the tycoons are restless. They don't like the new measures to cool the property market. They hate the part that taxes foreign buyers and speculators. They say it hurts Hong Kong's free-market economy. What humbug. Hong Kong's property sector is controlled by a handful of powerful tycoons. It's a virtual monopoly. The same tycoons also have a virtual monopoly over most other aspects of our daily lives - from mobile phone, electricity and transport services to supermarkets and pharmacies. And they dare talk about a free market? The Real Estate Developers Association, which represents Hong Kong's privileged few, met government officials last week to demand a watering-down of the cooling measures targeted at foreign buyers. It's another way of saying they want to reopen the door to mainland speculators. Will the government bow? Leung has talked the talk about not being influenced by the tycoons in his policymaking. Will he now walk the walk? Or will he do the deep bow that is customary for our officials when standing before Hong Kong's magnates?