HK’s political divisions no cause for worry

By Bai Rui Source:Global Times Published: 2013-1-6 22:06:02

On New Year's Day, more than 100,000 people marched in Hong Kong to oppose or support Chief Executive of HKSAR Leung Chun-ying.

The anti-Leung campaigners, who outnumbered those in favor of Leung, accused the leader of losing credibility by lying over unregistered expansion of his home and demanded that he resign. Many of Leung's critics also questioned the manner of his appointment.

Pro-Leung marchers defended his efforts to address deep-seated issues facing Hong Kong.

Leung's popularity has tumbled over the past six months since he took office on July 1, 2012. In addition to the home renovation scandal, Leung's popularity was also influenced by Hongkongers' discontent with rising house prices, impacts on social and economic issues by an increasing number of mainlanders flowing into Hong Kong and a growing unemployment rate.

The latest poll by the University of Hong Kong Public Opinion Programme in December stated that Leung's support is 49.2 percent after six months in office, lower than his predecessors Donald Tsang and Tung Chee-hwa, who both had a support rate of over 60 percent in their first six months as Hong Kong's top leader.

Leung, as the chief executive, is facing a daunting task in appeasing certain discontented Hongkongers, who bemoan the "lost golden days" of the region.

This is not a challenge unique to Leung. The economic woes that Hong Kong is experiencing have also stressed many other regional leaders.

It may be tempting for some observers to relate the opposition to the chief executive to Hongkongers' discontent with the central government.

Among those anti-Leung protesters, there were a few carrying the flag of colonial Hong Kong when it was under British rule.

Certain anti-central government sentiments cannot be ruled out in Hong Kong, but "Hong Kong independence" has no public roots, given the prominent patriotism of mainstream Hongkongers, including some democratic organizations.

The demonstrations on January 1 underlined the political divisions in Hong Kong. This is actually a result of the region's current political system, through which different political parties and organizations check and contend with each other for different political pursuits.

Hong Kong is going to have direct elections in 2017, when it may witness more complicated political divisions.

The mainland shouldn't be overly nervous about Hong Kong's internal political dispute.

With the deepening interaction and integration between the mainland and Hong Kong, the influence of the region's political disputes on mainland-Hong Kong relations will be limited.

Bai Rui, a freelance writer based in Beijing

Posted in: Viewpoint

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