Leung Chun-ying deserves support for taking on some of Hong Kong’s toughest problems

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 January, 2016, 2:36pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 January, 2016, 2:36pm

US President Barack Obama’s latest popularity ratings by the Rasmussen Report show that only 46 per cent of Americans approve of his job performance. When president George W. Bush left office, only 40 per cent of Americans viewed him favourably. These low ratings were for the democratically elected leaders from two different parties in the US.

Compare this with Leung Chun-ying in Hong Kong, where he’s painted as “not a people person”. Objectively, we can judge him on his actions, rather than on perceptions.

Firstly, take poverty. In the years Leung has been in office, the number of people considered poor has decreased; that is an achievement. Not too long ago, we experienced shortages of milk powder and hospital beds for local mothers. In response, Leung introduced a ban on mainland women giving birth here and restricted the sale of milk powder to mainland visitors.

He also introduced an additional 15 per cent buyer’s stamp duty on foreign buyers of property and other control measures.

Furthermore, he acted to curb parallel trading and reduce overcrowding. At Hong Kong’s request, Beijing implemented restrictions on visiting Shenzhen residents.

Unaffordable and inadequate housing is a perennial problem. Yet, few support our chief executive in solving it proactively, such as by using a small portion of our country parks for housing.

Affordable housing for all is one way to solve the problem, but the masses don’t support this idea either. Leung’s target to build 460,000 units over a decade is opposed by landlords, district councillors and vested interest groups, such as developers, who prefer high prices so as to maintain the status quo, at the expense of affordable housing for others.

The proposal to scrap the offsetting mechanism for the Mandatory Provident Fund and the proposed standard working hours legislation are classic issues where the chief executive is attacked on both fronts: the pan-democrats conveniently accuse Leung of not fulfilling his election mandate; while powerful business groups accuse him of not being pro-business. Leung has rightfully, and constructively, intervened in Hong Kong’s free market; but the masses don’t see this, while business groups oppose him.

Leung is often perceived as unfriendly. However, it should be clear that even a popular star politician, democratically chosen or otherwise, isn’t going to solve all of Hong Kong’s problems, nor force Beijing to grant us democracy.

We should support Leung since he’s correctly focusing on important livelihood issues and doing his best under very trying conditions.

Bernard E. S. Lee, Tsuen Wan