Leung Chun-ying was chosen as Hong Kong’s new leader after being elected by a committee of 1200 business leaders and other of Hong Kong’s influential and wealthy citizens. Mr. Leung’s main opponent, Henry Tang, was largely favored by the elites initially, but hit low poll numbers after a series of scandals regarding his private affairs became widely circulated by the media.
Mr. Leung, who will take office in July, managed to capture 689 votes of the 1132 votes cast, a far cry from Mr. Tang’s 285 votes. In a speech given by 57-year-old Mr. Leung after his victory, he promised “that the freedoms and rights enjoyed today by the people of Hong Kong will absolutely not be changed at all”. He also said that he would “work with the whole of Hong Kong in the next five years to make sure that the 2017 universal suffrage chief executive election will work well”. In addition, Mr. Leung added that he wanted to ease tensions while affirming the rule of law, human rights and freedoms. Hong Kong is supposed to have its first direct election in 2017.
However, many Hong Kong citizens are unhappy with the results because Beijing had signaled just days before the vote that Mr. Leung was their favored candidate. According to many profiles of Mr. Leung, he is known as a Hong Kong-born surveyor with deep Chinese connections and is deeply conservative. Accusations of being a Communist Party member have been frequent, although Mr. Leung has denied this. Previously, Hong Kong selections had a clear leader, and China had no need to make its views known. The election campaigns this time round were running bitter and views were divided on whether Mr. Tang or Mr. Leung should be elected. China thus decided to step in at the last minute and hold a series of meetings with the electoral committee during the week of the vote.
This did not bode well with Hong Kong citizens who are increasingly wary with China’s influence on Hong Kong politics and economy. The city’s seven million people currently have no say in who becomes their chief executive. Up to 2000 protestors gathered outside the convention center when the name of the elected leader was being announced, chanting “we want direct elections immediately”. There were also calls for Mr. Leung to resign. Despite this, Mr. Leung was unfazed, simply dismissing the protests as a result of “passions” being “roused”. Nonetheless, he pointed out the importance of working “in unison to be inclusive…and once again instill positive energy into [Hong Kong’s] community”.
Report: Tensions remain after Hong Kong Election [The New York Times, 25 March 2012]
Report: Hong Kong taps Beijing ally [Wall Street Journal, 25 March 2012]
Report: Hong Kong’s next leader, Leung Chun-ying, vows to protect freedoms, seeks to defuse anger [Washington Post, 25 March 2012]
Report: Beijing loyalist to lead Hong Kong after fraught election [Reuters, 25 March 2012]