Sunday, 17 June 2012

An Optically Shrewd Move

Ever since he was elected, there's been a lot of scrutiny over Chief Executive-elect Leung Chun-ying's stance on political issues as there are concerns he's a card-carrying Communist.

Pan-democratic lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan, chairman of the Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China has been on Leung's case for the last several weeks in particular. Lee criticized Leung for not attending the annual June 4 candlelight vigil at Victoria Park or for not saying anything about the 23rd anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown.

And last week a protest march 25,000 strong demanded Leung directly press Beijing to investigate activist Li Wangyang's suspicious death on June 6, but he only said: "I believe the central government would be aware of Hong Konger's view on this issue."

However Leung shut his critics up yesterday when he observed a minute's silence to mourn Li at a policy forum organized by the Neighbourhood and Workers' Service Centre in Kwai Fong.

Organizers only told him about the mourning ceremony only minutes before he was to take the stage. At that point there was no way for Leung to back out or say anything and so he rose with other audience members and bowed his head. He did not make any comments on Li during the forum.

Political observers say this was a smart move on Leung's part to assuage public concerns in the run-up to the 15th anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong to China and President Hu Jintao will mark the occasion with a visit to the special administrative region.

People are looking too deeply into Leung's actions and words when it comes to politically sensitive issues like these.

We all know he is walking a very fine line: Beijing is his boss and he doesn't want to be seen doing or saying anything that will anger China. At the same time he needs to be aware of Hong Kong people's expectations of him in how he reacts to issues important to them.

Leung is not going to say things that go against Beijing, so stop bugging him about it; there is no point in visiting these concerns.

Why not focus more on what he can speak about -- Hong Kong issues.

I'm not defending Leung, but I'd rather we channel our energy and efforts into areas where we can get some results.

After this event, it will be interesting to see if other pro-democracy groups inviting Leung to events will try to pull a fast one on him like this one yesterday where he had no choice but to go along, or will his office demand that it be given a detailed rundown of the schedule otherwise he will not attend?

We shall see.

In the meantime let's leave the man alone to play his cards. Unlike outgoing Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, Leung is no coward.

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