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Hong Kong's Tung Clinches Second Term - 2002-02-28

Hong Kong's first post-colonial chief executive, Tung Chee-Hwa has clinched a second five-year term in office. His second term comes as no surprise to most Hong Kong citizens, who could not vote in the election. His campaign, however, has focused on gaining the public's trust after numerous polls have shown Mr. Tung's satisfaction ratings to be less than desirable.

The only contestant in Hong Kong's second election for a top leader accepted his second term Thursday. Former shipping tycoon Tung Chee-Hwa secured more than 700 votes from an election committee of almost 800 members. That meant no other candidates could run, because they needed at least 100 votes from election committee members to enter the race. "I'm most grateful to the members of the election committee and to the people of Hong Kong for your support and for trust and honor you have bestowed upon me once again," he said. "During the election I've listened carefully and intently to the views of the member of the election committee and also to the people of Hong Kong."

Mr. Tung's critics say the Chief Executive has done little to show his commitment to bring in democratic reforms and universal suffrage. He promised greater democracy when he first took the helm in 1997 after 150 years of British colonial rule.

Legislator Emily Lau leads a coalition against Mr. Tung's campaign for a second term in office. "We are very upset and disturbed, although we knew from the start that he had been anointed by Beijing and there would be no contest, she said. "We still set up the coalition to voice our dismay and to demand a much quicker pace to democracy."

His backers, mostly rich business leaders and Beijing supporters, say the Chief Executive has accomplished the goals he set out to during his first term. Mr. Tung promised to keep Beijing's trust by not allowing the territory to become a springboard for dissidents but to allow enough freedom to keep Hong Kong's huge international business community happy.

Mr. Tung's five years in office have been hit by one controversy after another, ranging from a moribund economy to continued outbreaks of a deadly avian flu.

His reputation eroded when he asked Beijing to overturn a ruling by Hong Kong's highest court allowing Chinese mainland migrants to settle permanently in the territory.

In his acceptance speech, the Chief Executive said that Hong Kong residents' greatest concern now is the failing economy and soaring unemployment. He promised to remedy those problems by investing public funds in infrastructure projects and education.