CY Leung faces uphill poll battle with fewer set to back him in Hong Kong chief executive race

Leung Chun-ying’s political enemies seek to join Election Committee, weakening his support in key sectors

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 November, 2016, 11:59pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 15 November, 2016, 12:27am

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying is facing a tougher possible re-election bid as only two-thirds of those who nominated him four years ago are seeking to join the Election Committee that will pick Hong Kong’s next leader.

As nominations closed on Monday for the Election Committee race, which is expected to be the fiercest yet, only 189 out of 305 people who named Leung in 2012 were among them. A total of 1,553 nominations were received.

Leung will be up against an aggressive opposition campaign by pan-democrats in the professional sector, considered to be one of his strongholds. Even some pro-establishment members appear to have joined the “Anyone But CY” campaign orchestrated by Leung’s political enemies.

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Of the 189 Leung backers running for the Election Committee again, 42 are from the agricultural and fisheries sector and 15 from the labour sector – both his key support bases in 2012.

The pan-democrat camp, which bagged 205 votes in the committee’s last election, is fielding more members this year in sectors which they could not muster enough support in the past, such as health services, medical and the cultural sectors. The new momentum has transformed the professional sector into the most hotly contested battlefield of all.

At least 78 people are vying for the 30 seats of the architectural, surveying, planning and landscape sector, from which Leung previously secured 25 nominations. He was a surveyor before he became the city’s leader.

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But some of his core supporters in the last election have stopped short of backing him this time.

Vincent Ho Kui-yip, of the surveying sector, who nominated Leung in 2012, admitted that “backing CY” was a notion which could drive many voters away in today’s Hong Kong.

“Hong Kong needs a leader who can form a strong cabinet and unite society,” he said. “I think it is undeniable Leung’s cabinet has failed to coordinate well.”

District councillor Tang Ka-piu, of the Federation of Trade Unions (FTU), which also backed Leung in the last poll, urged the incumbent to deliver his election promises on labour and welfare in his remaining tenure. He singled out the need to scrap the notorious mechanism that allows employers to use the money they put into workers’ retirement funds to cover severance and long-service payments.

“The FTU has yet to decide whom to support in the chief executive election … but we are indeed very anxious about Leung’s progress [in keeping his election promises],” he said.

Chinese University political scientist Ivan Choy Chi-keung said those running for the Election Committee would not easily voice support for Leung for now, as there would be “a huge price to pay”.