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.
Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outragei
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 04, 2015 11:36 AM
The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outrage

The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Russians Observe 11th Anniversary of Beslan School Attack

This week, Russians have been observing the 11th anniversary of the attack by Islamic militants on a school in Russia's North Caucasus region that killed more than 330 hostages, including 186 children. The three-day siege and massacre that started on September 1, 2004 took place in Beslan, a town in the republic of North Ossetia, and is one of the bloodiest terrorist acts ever in Russia. VOA's Mike Richman reports.
Video

Video Native Americans Debate: Father Serra, Saint or Sinner?

Pope Francis will canonize an 18th century missionary to Spanish California during a papal visit to the United States this month.  But some Native Americans have criticized the elevation to sainthood of the missionary priest, Junipero Serra. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video China Announces Troop Cuts at WWII Parade

Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday announced plans to cut the world’s largest military force by 300,000 troops. The announcement was made during a massive military parade to commemorate victory over Japan in World War II. The event was shunned by most Western leaders and for some is raising fresh concerns about China’s military ambitions. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

VOA Blogs