The Leaderboard profiles the people behind the policies of the Asia-Pacific. This post features Leung Chun-ying, recently elected Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
Who is he?
Leung Chun-ying, commonly known as CY Leung, is the new Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Educated in Great Britain and hailed for his humble beginnings, Leung has had an impressive career as a consultant in Hong Kong. In 1999, he received the Gold Bauhinia Star, which is awarded to select persons who have provided distinguished service to the community. From 2003 until he resigned in order to take up the Chief Executive post, Leung was a member of the National Standing Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). He additionally held the prestigious position of convenor of the Executive Council of Hong Kong.
Why is he in the news?
Leung, who was sworn into office on July 1st, is commonly seen as the PRC’s man in the nominally self-governed city of Hong Kong. In a city of 7 million people, only 1,193 citizens (0.017%) were eligible to vote in the recent election, which caused hundreds of locals to turn to the streets in protest of what they see as an unfair and undemocratic process.
Interestingly, Leung was not the initial favorite of the CCP, who had backed rival candidate Henry Tang until a scandal involving the construction of an illegal basement derailed Tang’s campaign. Tang lost the support of the public, and Leung won an unlikely victory. Further complicating matters is the recent admission by Leung’s wife of illegal construction in his wife’s home, which has caused the public to withdraw much of their support. A poll released by the University of Hong Kong last week showed Leung’s popularity rating falling to 51.2, down 2.9 points from a month previous, prior to his construction scandal.
Some Hong Kongers are worried that with the Mainland supported Leung in office, the freedoms that they currently enjoy will be gradually restricted. Beijing has promised a fully democratic vote in the next Chief Executive election in 2017, but it remains questionable whether they will allow candidates that haven’t been vetted by the CCP to even run for office. Leung’s inauguration has become a hot button issue in Hong Kong, and has increased the already tangible discontent towards the Mainland.
What can we expect from him?
In his campaign, he focused on the social issues of housing, poverty reduction, medical services and education, with an overall platform of “seeking change while maintaining stability.” Leung is particularly focused on the huge income disparity in Hong Kong, which is higher than in any other developed nation. In addition, housing prices remain a primary concern for the majority of citizens. Property prices have increased exponentially over the past five years, and many ordinary citizens cannot even afford a one bedroom apartment in this land-starved city. Leung has promised to increase market transparency, and to attempt to bring housing prices down. The wealthy, land-owning elite, however, are generally against the lowering of housing prices, and it is these same citizens who make up the current election council that voted Leung into office.