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.
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.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs