CE’s de­ci­sion not a sig­nal of pol­icy change

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT - L AU NA I-K E U N G

fair­ness of the sell­ing of homes by in­tro­duc­ing the Sales of First-hand Res­i­den­tial Prop­er­ties Au­thor­ity. It is a crim­i­nal

the rules.

Given what Le­ung has done for Hong Kong, I was cu­ri­ous why some peo­ple dis­like him so much, and I found an

an ex­pla­na­tion. That ar­ti­cle be­gan: “Hong Kong is a city that en­joys free­dom of thought, ex­pres­sion and be­lief, cre­at­ing a di­ver­si­fied so­ci­ety that sup­ports its growth as an in­ter­na­tional me­trop­o­lis. How­ever, these free­doms that we value are be­ing eroded as the gov­ern­ment stresses the im­por­tance of pa­tri­o­tism, that the in­ter­est of the moth­er­land should over­ride our in­di­vid­ual free­doms.”

un­der­mined free­dom, Hong Kong’s rank­ing in the 2016 Hu­man Free­dom In­dex would tell. This in­dex, pub­lished by Fraser In­sti­tute, “presents a broad mea­sure of hu­man free­dom, un­der­stood as the ab­sence of co­er­cive con­straint”. It uses 79 dis­tinct in­di­ca­tors of per­sonal and eco­nomic free­dom in ar­eas in­clud­ing the rule of law, se­cu­rity and safety, move­ment, re­li­gion, etc. But Hong Kong is rated top of the world! Hong Kong’s top po­si­tion trumped Switzer­land, New Zealand, Ire­land, Den­mark, Aus­tralia, Canada, the United King­dom, Fin­land, and the Nether­lands, in that or­der. The United States is ranked in 23rd place.

As to ex­am­ples to back the au­thor of the ar­ti­cle’s claim, here is the list:

1) Le­ung ap­points two pro-Bei­jing

coun­cil mem­bers of Ling­nan Uni­ver­sity;

2) The gov­ern­ing body of the Chi­nese Uni­ver­sity of Hong Kong re­fuses to is­sue

The sec­ond piece of ev­i­dence is re­ally mis­lead­ing. All the uni­ver­sity pres­i­dents in Hong Kong, and the Chief Ex­ec­u­tive him­self, have stressed the im­por­tance of aca­demic free­dom. Pro­fes­sor Benny Tai from the Uni­ver­sity of Hong Kong and Pro­fes­sor Chan Kin-man of the Chi­nese

ce­ment Bei­jing’s in­flu­ence over every as­pect of Hong Kong life.”

This sum­ming-up shows that the op­po­si­tion to Le­ung is en­tirely po­lit­i­cal, based on a dis­like for Bei­jing, and has lit­tle to do with pub­lic pol­icy. The ev­i­dence is even clearer when Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee or Car­rie Lam are now la­beled as another Le­ung Chun-ying.

Last Fri­day, Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Le­ung Chun-ying an­nounced that he would not seek a sec­ond term. This is a re­gret­table de­ci­sion: Le­ung not only has a clear vi­sion on how to cre­ate a more vi­brant and eq­ui­table Hong Kong, but more im­por­tantly has the will to bring about real changes. He is not afraid of rock­ing the boat. Vested in­ter­ests and mis­guided cit­i­zens con­sider him must not be the chan­cel­lor of the uni“un­pop­u­lar”, but in the lo­cal con­text to­day ver­sity and must not have the au­thor­ity this should be taken as a com­pli­ment. to ap­point mem­bers to the uni­ver­sity Le­ung’s de­ci­sion is also un­der­stand­able. coun­cil. If the uni­ver­sity coun­cil saw The lo­cal news me­dia re­ported last week noth­ing wrong in hav­ing the CE serve as that he had vis­ited a hospi­tal where his the chan­cel­lor of the uni­ver­sity, which daugh­ter was said to be re­ceiv­ing treathas been the tra­di­tion in Hong Kong for ment. “My daugh­ter has only one fa­ther, as long as pub­lic uni­ver­si­ties ex­ist, why and my wife has only one hus­band,” he should any­one dic­tate their wish to oust told the press, adding that he “must make the CE from the chan­cel­lor­ship? a re­spon­si­ble choice be­tween ful­fill­ing my

The third and fourth crit­i­cisms clearly re­spon­si­bil­i­ties to so­ci­ety and to my fa­mindi­cate”.thatthedis­gust­forLe­ungily has lit­tle to do with pub­lic pol­icy that We should all re­spect Le­ung for his dec­i­mat­ters to the lives of the Hong Kong sion. In­stead of try­ing to dig up more dirt, peo­ple, but has ev­ery­thing to do with our me­dia should be ashamed of themthe au­thor’s dis­like of Bei­jing. selves for cre­at­ing the sit­u­a­tion whereby

The au­thor summed up: “The core a cam­paign would im­pose “un­bear­able rea­son for his un­pop­u­lar­ity is his abuse of power. And his abuse of power is seen in his ad­min­is­tra­tion’s fo­cus on mar-

which dis­rupted the lives of Hong Kong peo­ple for 79 days. They still keep their po­si­tions.

What the au­thor wanted is just a state­ment from the uni­ver­sity coun­cil years and es­pe­cially dur­ing Le­ung’s term, the me­dia have crossed the line too many times. In­de­cency and triv­i­al­ity are not what a free press is sup­posed to mean.

Crit­ics of Le­ung have viewed whether he would run as a sign of the cen­tral gov­ern­ment’s en­dorse­ment of his al­leged “hard­line poli­cies”. Now that he is not run­ning, they ex­pect some key poli­cies to take a U-turn soon — if not right away, cer­tainly in the be­gin­ning of his suc­ces­sor’s term.

In fact, the stock price of HKTV (HKSE: The au­thor is a vet­eran cur­rent af­fairs com­men­ta­tor. 1137), which is owned by busi­ness­man­turned-dis­si­dent Ricky Wong Wai-kay, jumped 33.3 per­cent on last Fri­day alone, driven by Le­ung’s an­nounce­ment. HKTV was de­nied a do­mes­tic free tele­vi­sion pro­gram ser­vice by the gov­ern­ment. Pun­dits the­o­rized that it was due to pres­sure from the cen­tral gov­ern­ment, fun­neled through Le­ung. Now that Le­ung will no longer be our next CE, peo­ple some­how be­lieve that Wong’s busi­ness will there­fore fare bet­ter.

I am afraid HKTV’s share­hold­ers will be dis­ap­pointed soon.

It is a big mis­take to in­ter­pret Le­ung’s de­ci­sion not to seek a sec­ond term as the cen­tral gov­ern­ment’s dis­ap­proval to­ward his work. It is an even big­ger mis­take to think that the cen­tral gov­ern­ment has changed its stance on key is­sues such as Hong Kong’s tran­si­tion to uni­ver­sal suf­frage, and the “in­de­pen­dence” move­ment.

Le­ung met with Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping for 45 min­utes in Lima, Peru dur­ing the Asi­aPa­cific Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion fo­rum in Novem­ber. That was a long meet­ing given it is just a “side­line” of the sum­mit and that Xi un­der­stand­ably has a tight sched­ule. It is also worth not­ing that they need not have spent so much time to­gether in Peru un­less there was some­thing ur­gent, as Le­ung will be pre­sent­ing his yearly work re­port in Bei­jing in De­cem­ber any­way.

What did Xi and Le­ung dis­cuss in Peru? Ac­cord­ing to Xin­hua News Agency, after Xi lis­tened to Le­ung’s re­ports, the cen­tral gov­ern­ment “fully en­dorsed” the work of the Chief Ex­ec­u­tive and the Hong Kong gov­ern­ment. “(Xi) hopes (Le­ung) will lead the gov­ern­ing team of the SAR gov­ern­ment to con­tinue in­te­gra­tion poli­cies, to widely gather con­sen­sus, to push for eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and im­prove liveli­hoods, res­o­lutely up­hold the unity of the coun­try, (and) main­tain so­cial and po­lit­i­cal sta­bil­ity,” the re­port read.

Ac­cord­ing to Le­ung, Xi’s en­dorse­ment cov­ers the re­cent oath-tak­ing con­tro­versy. And Xi also “force­fully” de­clared that there was no room for “Hong Kong in­de­pen-

It is a big mis­take to in­ter­pret Le­ung’s de­ci­sion not to seek a sec­ond term as the cen­tral gov­ern­ment’s dis­ap­proval to­ward his work.”

tems” ar­range­ment.

Some­how, the ever so self-serv­ing Hong Kong pun­dits, who said Le­ung is a hard­liner, now want us to be­lieve that the cen­tral gov­ern­ment for some rea­son wants to change its Hong Kong pol­icy, and there­fore is re­plac­ing Le­ung with a “mod­er­ate”. That just does not make a lot of sense.

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