Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying is doing a worse job than his predecessors and the city will "go nowhere but down" if he continues to govern as he has in recent months, says Liberal Party leader James Tien Pei-chun.
In a public outburst that underlined the rift in the pro-establishment camp, Tien also said Leung was the "wrong choice" for the top job. He added that the city would have been better off had rival candidate Henry Tang Ying-yen been elected in March last year. Tien supported Tang in his campaign.
His remarks come amid repeated calls from Beijing for unity. But Tien blamed Leung for division within the camp. He also called for the formation of a coalition to help improve governance.
"The so-called Leung camp is very small," he told ATV's Newsline yesterday. "Only a few executive councillors are from his camp. I don't think the ministers are all in the same boat … if you ask the lawmakers from the pro-establishment camp, I'm sure the majority will say 'I am not from the Leung camp'.
"To be the chief executive, you have to accommodate more people in your camp, to share your power and authority from either the functional constituency or directly elected lawmakers," he added. "But he is not uniting the people of Hong Kong."
Tien said the pro-establishment camp was not kept informed about what the government planned to do, and Leung's administration did not co-operate with Legco or its allies. "We represent a big group of people in Hong Kong. But we have no means of expressing our views on behalf of our voters," he said.
Asked how he would rate Leung's performance, Tien said Tung Chee-hwa and Donald Tsang Yam-kuen - the two chief executives elected since the handover in 1997 - were "definitely" better than Leung. "He was the wrong choice. Tang was not a good choice, either. We hoped C.Y. would do better."
Leung's approval rating plunged to a record low of 45.7 points out of 100 in a July poll.
Tien was not confident Leung would see out his term. "I hope he can last but I am not confident that he will - just look at [his rating]," he said. "If Hong Kong is to go four more years under Leung's leadership as it stands, I think it will be pretty sad. Hong Kong will go nowhere but down."
But Tien insisted he would not run for the top job himself in 2017. "I will be 70 and I think we need a leader, hopefully in his 50s, who is on the up," he said.
Beijing officials, including Wang Guangya , director of the State Council's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, have called for unity and support for Leung. ["I hope] the camp can unite and increase its fighting strength and influence," Wang said in March.