‘Impossible’ for Hong Kong chief executive to last 10 years in office, HKU pollster says, citing Trump win in US

Republican candidate’s unexpected victory in American presidential election reflects global desire for change, according to Dr Robert Chung

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 November, 2016, 12:34pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 November, 2016, 12:38pm

Donald Trump’s unexpected victory in the US presidential election reflect a global desire for change, which could serve as a signal for Hong Kong’s coming chief executive election, a veteran pollster said.

Dr Robert Chung Ting-yiu, who heads the University of Hong Kong’s public opinion programme, said it would be “impossible” for a Hong Kong chief executive to complete 10 years in office, or two terms.

“Even in such an open and democratic country as the US, eight years is already difficult [for a president], let alone 10 years in the Hong Kong system,” Chung said while speaking on a Commercial Radio programme on Thursday morning.

Watch: Hong Kong supporters of Donald Trump elated over his US election win

“History and data tell us that, whether it is the elections in the US or Taiwan, people have a strong desire for change,” he said.

Chung said Trump’s victory was fuelled by a trust crisis in the US, where many Americans who had lost faith and confidence in the government were looking for change, just as they were prior to Barack Obama’s election in 2008.

He added that since a law prohibiting a US president from being elected for a third term was enacted in 1951, it was very rare that the same political party would succeed in holding on to the presidency after eight years.

“Under this new system, it has happened only once – when former President Ronald Reagan was succeeded by [fellow Republican] George H. W. Bush,” Chung said.

He added that despite Obama’s popularity as president, voters may have leaned towards Trump because Hillary Clinton was not an exceptional candidate either.

Chung also pointed out how it was unprecedented in Hong Kong for a chief executive to complete two full terms in office.

Tung Chee-hwa, Hong Kong’s first chief executive since the 1997 handover, and his successor Donald Tsang Yam-kuen were both unable to complete 10 years in office despite being successfully elected for a second term.

“If any chief executive wants to have the support of the people, they should aim to finish their work within five years’ time or pass it on to the next candidate,” Chung said.

“It would be a disaster if Leung Chun-ying were able to complete 10 years in office given his popularity.”

Leung, as incumbent chief executive, has yet to confirm whether he will seek a second term. High-profile retired judge Woo Kwok-hing has been the only person so far to throw his hat into the ring, while financial secretary John Tsang Chun-wah has been widely tipped as a potential contender.

Trump won the US presidential race after clinching a majority of the 538 electoral college votes on Wednesday, while Clinton was ahead of Trump in the popular vote by a slight margin of 47.7 per cent against 47.5 per cent.