Sunday, 25 March 2012

Easy Win, Hard Road Ahead

Chief Executive-elect Leung Chun-ying
This weekend is a strange one -- on the one hand mostly expats and overseas visitors are enjoying the Rugby Sevens, while local Hong Kongers are either elated or dismayed by the Chief Executive election where Leung Chun-ying handily won with 689 votes in the first round.

The election was interesting to watch live -- the 1,200 chosen to vote filled out paper ballots and then when voting was closed at 11am, they sat down at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. The ballots were all put on the table on stage and counted, as the candidates and their aides looked on from behind.

Some ballots checked two candidates, and at least one showed all three marked. Some 143 votes were either void or blank.

While things inside were orderly, a large crowd was building outside with people carrying banners denouncing the "small circle election" or particular candidates. Some picked fights with police, trying to push the barricades down leading to the convention centre.

That's because the election did not reflect the people's choice as indicated by the mock poll -- where some 54 percent preferred none of the candidates. However in a real election "none of the above" would have been an option.

Meanwhile as the votes were being counted, Henry Tang Ying-yen tried to keep a brave face but he was probably shocked at the only 285 votes he got, a sure sign from Beijing that he was definitely not the favourite. Next to him was property Lee Shau-kee who looked sullen and downcast. Tang's wife Lisa tried very hard to smile, but his serious missteps cost him the election.

And what a race it has been.

At first it was believed Tang was a shoe-in and the public griped about the pathetic reality of having someone born with a silver spoon in his mouth continue the government's cozy relationship with the city's tycoons.

However when he was unable to contain the news of his extra-marital affairs and later the construction of an illegal basement, Leung quickly rose as the better alternative.

But things got nastier with Leung's alleged triad links and Tang later claiming his rival had advocated the use of riot police and tear gas on those who protested against the legislation of Article 23.

Popular support for Leung started to drop and their faith in the system completely eroded when some election committee members admitted they were waiting for Beijing's guidance on who to vote for.

And that's what led to mixed emotions today.

Leung will have an extremely challenging leadership ahead. He must make peace with his rival camps and assure the public he is not a blood thirsty wolf who is only out for himself; he needs to prove he is a man of the people.

There are numerous issues that need to be resolved, from mainland mothers coming here to give birth, to the environment, education, housing and economy.

He is untested as a government leader, but Beijing is backing him.

Hopefully he will not let us -- Hong Kong -- down.

Third time lucky?

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