Leung Chun-ying

Leung Chun-ying softens ‘as chief executive election nears’

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 27 March, 2016, 1:43am
UPDATED : Sunday, 27 March, 2016, 1:43am

Speculation about a possible tilt at a second term by Hong Kong’s incumbent leader was ratcheted up yesterday when a prominent pro-Beijing heavyweight highlighted an apparent softening of his administration’s trademark hardline style.

While underlining that Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has not announced an intention to seek re-election, Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai pointed to recent political moves and added that “popularity’’ was an issue as the chief executive election draws ever closer.

Leung’s administration – regarded as confrontational even in the eyes of some in the pro-establishment camp – appeared to be adopting a softer line in the wake of the NPC and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference meetings in Beijing, said Fan, he only Hong Kong member of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee

At the recent Beijing meetings state leaders offered no harsh remarks even after the Mong Kok riot and the surprising vote share for a “separatist” candidate in a Legislative Council by-election.

Locally, the government re-arranged the legislative agenda and funding requests as demanded by pan-democrats so that the controversial issues could be dealt with later.

Leung’s successor will be decided in the election in March next year, a poll with 1,200 eligible voters.

Fan said: “As the next chief executive election nears, of course the SAR government would consider the popularity of the individual policies.”

But Fan, a former Legislative Council president, said Leung was too combative in the chamber at times.

“I’ve seen how pan-democrats grilled the chief executive, at times very impolitely,” she said. “But if you appear to be more forgiving and tolerant and try to control your emotion and your true feeling, that might help you ... get recognition from the public.”

In another development, Starry Lee Wai-king, the chairwoman of the city’s key pro-Beijing party who recently quit Leung’s Executive Council, said while she would not run for the next election, she would not say that she would never run in future.

She listed four conditions for the next city leader to meet: the support of Hongkongers and the central government, the ability to unite the pro-establishment camp and to communicate with lawmakers of different camps, the capability to resolve Hong Kong’s deep-seated problems, and a team that can deliver his or her political platforms.

Fan was interviewed by Commercial Radio, and Lee, of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, by the RTHK.