POLITICAL REFORM
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Leung Chun-ying

CY Leung: Hong Kong chief executive would have ‘greater legitimacy’ if elected by ‘one man, one vote’

Following recent surprise comment by his deputy, he calls for political reform as soon as possible

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 July, 2016, 12:58pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 July, 2016, 11:51pm

Electing Hong Kong’s leader by universal suffrage as soon as possible is a shared desire of citizens as well as both the city and central governments, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said on Tuesday as he unveiled his annual report on the administration’s work.

The city’s stalled political process is in the spotlight again after Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor expressed “sincere hope” over the weekend that the next administration could get it going again so that Hongkongers could pick their own leader by “one man, one vote”.

Heading into his weekly cabinet meeting, Leung said universal suffrage was “a common aspiration” of Hongkongers, the government and Beijing. One man, one vote would give the chief executive “greater legitimacy”, he added.

But Leung also called for the rift between pan-democrat lawmakers and Beijing to be narrowed to enable electoral reform.

Changing the existing system requires the support of two-thirds of the Legislative Council, meaning the government would need the backing of several pan-democrats at least. It would also require approval from the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress.

In June last year, the pan-democrats orchestrated the rejection of the government’s final reform package based on a rigid framework laid down by Beijing.

Leung said most lawmakers and NPC members would need “a closer look at the matter” to accomplish reform, citing his own efforts to bridge the gap.

Both officials have in the past expressed uncertainty over when the process can be revived, with Leung ruling it out for his current administration.

In April last year, ahead of the failed vote, Leung had said: “Launching the electoral reform process is not something easy. If it is voted down this time, another round of reform process would only happen after a certain number of years.”

Asked about the possibility of the chief secretary becoming his election rival, given her campaign-style talk, Leung suggested people were “over-reading” the situation. He and his colleagues were responsible for doing their jobs well, he said.

Leung recently told the Post he would wait until after September to decide whether to seek a second term.

Unveiling his 39-page annual work report – his last before the chief executive election next March – Leung put the focus on his government’s progress and achievements, mentioning the nation’s “One Belt, One Road” trade initiative 17 times.

The report noted that the overall number of welfare cases under the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance Scheme had dropped to a new 14-year low after a 61-month downward trend to 242,308.

Democratic Party leader Emily Lau Wai-hing said she was unconvinced by Leung’s latest reassurances about political reform, as he had never really shown enthusiasm for pushing ahead with it.

“But it is better late than never,” she said, although she suspected it was just re-election talk.