Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has had a lot of support since his CE-Election campaign days up to now though quite a few people have opposed him as well. In this author’s opinion, the most important thing for the new SAR government right now is to work on issues concerning quality of life and show positive results as soon as possible so as to stabilize the situation. There are two reasons why:
First, it is what CE Leung needs to do to secure the popular foundation of his administration. In economic terms, most of Leung’s supporters are somewhere in the lower middle class or professionals; politically they are from either the traditionally left or center-left crowd. These people form the majority of Hong Kong’s population and Leung’s popular base at the moment, but they are not economically strong or politically influential despite their massive numbers. Those who oppose Leung include a few big businesses that hold market monopoly, politicians from the opposition camp and local residents who still have doubts about the central government. These people are small in number but economically strong and politically powerful.
The characteristics of Leung’s supporters and opponents mean his support base is not stable and some may switch their political allegiances, while those who oppose him are more stable politically. The root cause of his supporters’ propensity for political mood change is the fact that most of them are economically weak and support Leung because they believe he will take steps to improve their economic situation.
This means Leung’s government should introduce as soon as possible policy measures concerning people’s livelihood, such as in housing, education, health care, employment, old-age care and poverty relief, to secure the political support from his existing popular base. He must not hold back, otherwise his opponents will keep opposing his administration anyway while his supporters may lose heart and abandon him, making it very hard for him to maintain effective administration.
Second, Leung needs to secure majority support in the next five years if he wants to win reelection in 2017 by popular vote. Current attempts by some people to force Leung out of office are bound to fail, because they have underestimated his political wisdom and the central government’s determination to support the new SAR government’s lawful administration.
However, if Hong Kong’s political development proceeds toward the CE election by popular vote in 2017 as planned, it is absolutely necessary for the SAR government to focus on quality of life issues from the start. Why?
Because, 1) no matter how big a voter’s economic or political power is, he/she has only one vote in the popular election. Therefore it is the first priority for any one intending to run for the CE office to implement positive measures on quality of life issues in order to win support from the majority of voters;
2) election by popular vote requires a healthy socio-political environment. If the current social, economic and quality of life problems are not addressed effectively soon, Hong Kong could experience political turmoil in 2017. It is highly questionable whether democratic development can proceed in an orderly fashion when the socio-political situation is anything but. At least the setbacks democracy has suffered in some Middle East nations under political chaos tell us the answer is no.
Certain political forces are trying to undermine Leung’s administration by making a big deal out of a trivial matter. Their goal is to distract him from carrying out his policy agenda and slow him down in efforts to improve the city’s overall standard of living. Their aim is to escalate social discontent and poison the environment for his administration, hoping to force him out of the CE’s office eventually. CY Leung should not be affected by such distractions and focus on pushing ahead with his policy agenda instead of trying to prove he is trustworthy.
The author is a veteran current affairs commentator.