Mer­ci­less me­dia cam­paign fi­nally wears down CE

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT -

To their shame, most of Hong Kong’s me­dia have con­ducted a long-stand­ing and quite re­lent­less cam­paign of vir­u­lent crit­i­cism of the cur­rent Chief Ex­ec­u­tive, cli­max­ing in his de­ci­sion not to stand for re-elec­tion. For rea­sons known only to their own­ers and CEOs, some of our big­gest news­pa­pers, aided by tele­vi­sion crit­ics, have seized on ev­ery op­por­tu­nity to por­tray him as lit­tle bet­ter than a hu­man wreck­ing ball mas­querad­ing as a stum­bling, bungling leader war­rant­ing se­vere crit­i­cism. Only rarely have we seen the sup­posed car­di­nal rule of news cov­er­age prop­erly ap­plied — whereby both sides of each case are given equal and im­par­tial cov­er­age.

On balance, Le­ung’s de­ci­sion is par­tic­u­larly well-grounded — for most of his term he has been gra­tu­itously crit­i­cized and in­sulted, held up to ridicule and even ac­cused of “un­der-the-ta­ble deals” in the case of a con­tract with Aus­tralian in­ter­ests from be­fore his el­e­va­tion to CE. De­spite it all he has grit­tily stayed the course, but why in­deed should he drag him­self and his fam­ily through sev­eral more years of men­tal pain and suf­fer­ing?

Not sur­pris­ingly so much mud has been flung at him that a sig­nif­i­cant amount of it has stuck, not just to him but also to mem­bers of his fam­ily. What pri­vacy have they re­ceived over the past five years from a shame­less cam­paign aimed at black­en­ing his name?

The key words in Le­ung’s an­nounce­ment were that he did not wish to place his fam­ily un­der still more “un­bear­able pres­sure”. This par­tic­u­larly nasty pres­sure sprang from the anti-Le­ung at­mos­phere stirred up across lo­cal so­ci­ety, with var­i­ous out­ra­geous events still fresh in our minds. The worst ex­am­ples of such “un­bear­able pres­sure” in­clude the in­sult­ing be­hav­ior dis­played to­ward him with un­hid­den de­light by some Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil mem­bers, and the univer­sity grad­u­ates who stooped so low as to make a back­ward bow dur­ing their de­gree-pre­sen­ta­tion cer­e­mony, thrust­ing their clothed pos­te­ri­ors in his di­rec­tion.

More re­cently one of his daugh­ters has been in hos­pi­tal for ex­tended treat­ment, her re­cov­ery not helped by con­stant me­dia at­tempts to un­earth ev­ery small de­tail of the young lady’s ill­ness and the progress of her treat­ment. It is ab­so­lutely dis­grace­ful that this cam­paign of pes­ter­ing in­quiries has been or­dered by pro­pri­etors and their ed­i­tors.

Then there was the snide psy­cho­log­i­cal cam­paign, thought up by some de­vi­ous­minded trou­ble­mak­ers, called the “Any­one but CY” elec­tion push.

Who are the mas­ter­minds ac­tu­ally be­hind the me­dia cam­paign tar­get­ing the CE? Could it be that the cashed-up and highly in­flu­en­tial “forces” back­ing the “pan-demo­cratic” and pro-in­de­pen­dence camps — and de­lib­er­ately cre­at­ing as much dis­sen­sion and dis­or­der as they can muster — are yet again try­ing to sab­o­tage not just our ad­min­is­tra­tion but also Hong Kong’s econ­omy and in­deed its very fu­ture?

These provo­ca­teurs are no doubt presently re­joic­ing over what they pre­sum­ably regard as their most im­por­tant achieve­ment in the Hong Kong SAR’s his­tory — Le­ung’s shock de­ci­sion based on his not wish­ing to place his fam­ily un­der still more un­bear­able pres­sure. The harm­ful ac­tiv­i­ties of these plot­ters have been go­ing on for years, and still there has been no crack­down on them. Let us trust that their good for­tune is not al­lowed to con­tinue by Le­ung’s suc­ces­sor.

The fact is that Le­ung’s ad­min­is­tra­tion has al­ways been ex­tremely tol­er­ant and per­haps even for­giv­ing to a fault. De­spite the harm they caused to the econ­omy and the se­ri­ous dis­rup­tions to the pub­lic, il­le­gal demon­stra­tors have been han­dled with kid gloves, cre­at­ing an at­mos­phere where the “pro-democ­racy” move­ment re­cently bal­looned into the pro-in­de­pen­dence off­shoot.

The cur­rent im­broglio over de­lib­er­ate vi­o­la­tions in oath-tak­ing by leg­is­la­tors­e­lect is yet an­other in­stance of the re­bel­lious un­der­cur­rents swirling through the minds of some ma­tur­ing youth. They must be made to see that our leg­isla­tive body has an im­por­tant role to fill, and that if they re­sort to var­i­ous grossly dis­re­spect­ful “high-jinks” they will never be seated in the LegCo cham­ber.

Who­ever steps into Le­ung’s shoes will im­me­di­ately be con­fronted by a se­ries of sig­nif­i­cant chal­lenges. A smooth tran­si­tion will make it eas­ier for that suc­ces­sor to carry Hong Kong for­ward and main­tain its econ­omy in these trou­bled times. But the most press­ing prob­lem will be to try to get the present hous­ing short­age un­der con­trol. Young fam­i­lies will be pray­ing that some bold new ini­tia­tives are in­tro­duced in the pub­lic hous­ing sec­tor and ways found to re­duce the price of flats on the mar­ket.

Le­ung’s de­ci­sion to stand aside should be­come a turn­ing point — bring­ing to an end not just the bit­ter in­fight­ing on the po­lit­i­cal scene but fos­ter­ing a much­needed at­ti­tude of re­spect and co­op­er­a­tion for the new CE.

The me­dia in par­tic­u­lar should act re­spon­si­bly and re­spect­fully to­ward the new in­cum­bent and do its job of in­form­ing the pub­lic about on­com­ing de­vel­op­ments aimed at main­tain­ing the SAR’s pros­per­ity.

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