Unpopular former Hong Kong leader should run again for top job: former government advisor

2021.05.07

Former chief executive Leung Chun-ying should run for the position again, according to a former government advisor, with elections for Hong Kong’s top job slated for March next year.

Cheung Chi-kong, who was a non-official member of the Executive Council — Hong Kong’s official advisory body to the government — said Leung would have an “advantage” if he ran for the position again. He said such a move would not be considered a “demotion” from Leung’s current position as a vice chairperson of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, which is China’s political advisory body.

“Why not introduce a bit of competition?” Cheung said, especially with the new national security law and “improved” electoral system in place.Leung was the third chief executive of Hong Kong, heading the government from 2012 to 2017. Early in his tenure, he tried to introduce the unpopular national and moral education curriculum, which was opposed by students and parents who staged rallies that led to the withdrawal of the proposal. He was also highly criticized for his handling of the 2014 pro-democratic protests known as the Umbrella Movement, where thousands of Hongkongers occupied various sections of the city in protest against Beijing’s decisions on Hong Kong’s electoral reforms. Leung had consistently low popularity ratings, and did not seek a second term in office. In an interview with Reuters in March, Leung did answer questions on whether he would run for chief executive next year, saying he would “try his best to serve Hong Kong and serve the country.”If Leung runs, it would be the first time a former chief executive ran for the position again since the position was created in 1997 after Hong Kong’s handover from the United Kingdom to China, as he was the first one who did not take a consecutive term. He is the second Hong Kong top leader — after Tung Chee-hwa — to be appointed as a vice chairperson in the CPPCC.

Cheung, an openly avid supporter of Leung, believed that the former chief executive has a bright political career ahead and could rise in the ranks of the Chinese political system all the way to the central government, in an interview with Hong Kong Chinese-language media outlet HK01.

Cheung also criticized the current Hong Kong administration in its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Saying ‘we did better than the Americans’ isn’t enough, is it? Compared to the mainland and Macao, we’re far behind,” said Cheung.

Cheung suggested that Beijing should establish a “key performance indicator” system to measure whether Hong Kong’s chief executive was performing well in sectors of economic growth, employment, people’s living standards, medical and more.

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