News

Leung Wins Hong Kong Poll

The next Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying celebrates as he attend a news conference at a vote counting station in Hong Kong, March 25, 2012.
The next Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying celebrates as he attend a news conference at a vote counting station in Hong Kong, March 25, 2012.
Ivan Broadhead

A pro-Beijing election committee picked Leung Chun-ying to head the next Hong Kong government Sunday, after an acrimonious and scandal-marred campaign. With Hong Kong people unable to vote, and both Leung and early favorite Henry Tang failing to gain broad public support, thousands of people took to the streets during the count to demand universal suffrage and to protest against Beijing’s perceived manipulation of the result.

The 1,200-member committee appointed to select Hong Kong’s chief executive comprises politicians, special interest groups and tycoons. Many are indebted to the Chinese government for their position and livelihood.

Pro-Beijing leftists and trade unionists on the committee threw their weight behind Leung, a surveyor who has irked those property developers entitled to vote in the election by advocating steps to rein in soaring housing costs.

Tang, the former head of the civil service and son of a wealthy Shanghai industrialist, found his core support among the committee’s tycoons.

As politicians and billionaires cast their votes, more than 2,000 members of the public protested outside the polling station. Christopher Lam is chairman of the action group, People Power.

“The Beijing government is very worried the Hong Kong model of freedom of speech will spread around China, and that’s why they handpicked C.Y. Leung - because they believe only a hardliner can suppress all these protests, all these voices in Hong Kong,” said Lam.

The election campaign was marred by allegations of marital infidelity by Tang and corruption charges against both men. Francis Moriarty, political correspondent with Hong Kong public broadcaster, RTHK, notes the scandals caused indignation, and not merely among Hong Kong’s disenfranchised public.

“Nobody comes out of this a winner. I think Beijing knew these divisions, if allowed to go on, were going to get deeper and deepe," said Moriarty.  "Not only social divisions in Hong Kong, but in the leftist movement itself - between different tycoons, between grassroots and wealthy people.”

Aware of the public backlash against Tang in particular and fearing civic unrest, Beijing last week made clear to election committee members that it had switched its support to Leung.  

With Liberal Party politicians threatening to spoil their ballots, the election had been expected to go two rounds Sunday, and potentially to a second vote in May.

Dixon Sing of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology says he was as surprised as anyone when Leung won a clear majority in the first round, with 689 votes to Tang’s 285.  

“The influence of Beijing has been much greater than I expected," said Sing. "Definitely, Hong Kong seems to be under greater control of the mainland given the high profile interference in this election and the close association between C.Y. and Beijing.”

The Beijing government called the election “open, fair and just.” However, its meddling has sparked fears that one of Leung’s first acts might be to re-introduce a Beijing-backed sedition law that Tung Chee-hwa's administration was unable to push through in 2003.  

In his victory speech, Leung addressed concerns he would erode the autonomy Hong Kong has enjoyed since its return to China in 1997 - freedoms enshrined in the city’s mini-constitution under the principle of “one country, two systems”.  

“The election reaffirmed [our] core values: the rule of law, human rights, freedom of speech, the press and assembly," said Leung. "To the people I solemnly pledge that the freedoms and rights they enjoy today will be maintained under my administration.”

As Leung spoke, politicians from the League of Social Democrats yelled demands for electoral reform. On the street, protesters simultaneously broke through a police cordon and attempted to storm the building.

Businessman Allan Zeman, who supported Tang, was one of many to intimate that China exerted undue influence on the poll. He called on China to uphold its promise to implement universal suffrage before the next chief executive election in 2017.

“Hopefully in 2017 we can have universal suffrage when everybody can really vote ... This was very disappointing," he said. "I think many people feel cheated.”

Protest season is fast approaching in Hong Kong, starting with the June 4 anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre.

Weeks later, the annual July 1 Establishment Day protest takes place.

Commentators suggest that, if Leung is to survive in office until 2017, he will need to build popular support sooner rather than later.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Tradei
X
Robert Carmichael
August 04, 2015 3:07 PM
Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Trade

Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Growing Number of E. Jerusalem Palestinians Seek Israeli Citizenship

Most Palestinians living in East Jerusalem have long rejected the option of full Israeli citizenship, seeing it as a betrayal to their political cause - the formation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. But as that dream remains elusive, more and more Palestinians are applying for Israeli citizenship. Zlatica Hoke reports the decision is hard for many Palestinians who say they have to be pragmatic about it.
Video

Video With No Money, More Students, African Universities Struggle

Academics from around the African continent converged in Johannesburg last week for the African Universities Summit, a chance to tackle some of the major issues facing higher education in Africa today. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Wisconsin's Voter ID Law Still Mired In Controversy

Voter ID laws have sparked controversy across the US. More than 30 states enacted laws requiring citizens to show identification before they vote. Against fierce opposition, the state of Wisconsin recently enacted one the most restrictive voter ID laws in country. As Jeff Swicord reports, no one can predict its impact as the 2016 election nears.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Hailed as Highly Effective

At last, there's a way to end the suffering from the Ebola epidemic that has ravaged West Africa for more than a year. Researchers say the vaccine is so effective, there may never be a major outbreak of Ebola again. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs