Student leader Joshua Wong armed with his mobile phone
Fortune magazine has released its world's 50 "greatest leaders" and student leader Joshua Wong Chi-fung rounded the top 10, while Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying was no where to be found on the list.
Wong's in good company, with Apple CEO Tim Cook at No. 1, Chinese President Xi Jinping at No. 3, and Pope Francis at No. 4.
The 18-year-old student leader beat out other top personalities, such as Microsoft founder Bill Gates and his wife Melinda (No. 18), Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (No. 25), and basketball star Yao Ming (No. 26).
The magazine said Wong was one of the most compelling figures during the 79-day Umbrella Movement, blocking several main roads in the city and demanding universal suffrage.
"Wong doesn't look like Hollywood's idea of a charismatic rebel leader," Fortune said, but "his non-violent protest message and energetic idealism galvanized crowds, that, over months, numbered in the hundreds of thousands."
Fortune says Leung was not a leader during the protests
Meanwhile, the magazine compared Wong to Leung, saying the chief executive lacked leadership while the student activist walked the walk.
Geoff Colvin, Fortune's senior editor noted that Leung had a range of powers from signing bills and issuing executive orders to appointing judges, but many Hong Kong people chose not to follow him during the Occupy protests.
"When they learned that the 2017 election for Leung's position would not be free and democratic, as authorities had previously suggested, they poured into the streets and followed Joshua Wong, then 17, who had started a pro-democracy student group," Colvin said.
"Leung, 60, commanded a vast city administration, including police wielding pepper spray and truncheons. Wong had a cellphone. Yet the protesters paralyzed Hong Kong for three months."
In the end the magazine says: "So who's the real leader? The answer is obvious: Leung has the leader's job, but he doesn't have leadership. Wong is the one who demonstrated that."
Fortune compiled the list based on nominations from its reporters and more than 20 leadership experts. They were looking for such qualities as vision and the ability to move others to act with them on a shared quest last year, as well as being brilliant, admirable or powerful.
We agree with Fortune's choice of Wong -- but up until the point when Leung completely ignored the student leaders to have another round of dialogue, and Wong began his pathetic hunger strike.
That's when the Open University student began losing credibility, and his weak attempt at gaining attention yielded nothing except health concerns.
Nonetheless, we're pleased Wong is in the top 10 because he as well as Alex Chow Yong-kang and Lester Shum really were the leaders of the Umbrella Movement, who inspired young and old to fight for what they believed in.
Keeping the movement alive is what the Umbrella Movement is about, and with the six-month anniversary to the start of the protests tomorrow, Fortune's praise of Wong is a reminder of the goal of true universal suffrage.