Welcome to Eureka Street

back to site


Hong Kong not in the mood for love

  • 03 October 2014

--> In 2012 I speculated that the election of Leung Chun-ying as chief executive on 25 March that year 'went down as the day Beijing put another nail in the democratic aspirations' of Hong Kong. Two years on, and in light of the current demonstrations in this city of 7.2 million people, it is very tempting to suggest that nail represented the end of democracy in Hong Kong. 

Over the last 20 years, every time the people of Hong Kong have heard some 'menacing' messages from Beijing, they have responded and become politically active. The menacing message this time was the one I heard two years ago in the office of Leung Kwok-hung – better known as 'Long hair' – in the Legislative Council or Legco – not far from the epicentre of the protests. 

'Beijing won’t honour its pledge that would allow Hong Kong to elect in 2017 its political leaders, including the Chief Executive,' he told me then. And unfortunately he was correct. China won’t allow the free and popular election in 2017 that the people of Hong Kong people were hoping for. This was the disturbing message that has sparked anger in this 'gentle society' – as described to me by veteran Hong Kong writer and journalist Nury Vittachi.

Leung Chun-ying, who was sworn in during July 2012, is the third chief executive of Hong Kong since the handover to China in 1997. Under the Beijing sword of Damocles, a minuscule election committee has elected all of them. Unwavering individuals loyal to the Communist Party. There is an old story that wonderfully illustrates Hong Kong’s chief executive allegiance to Beijing. 

For most of his life, Donald Tsang – the predecessor of Leung – was famously a pro-democracy politician. He was also very pro-British, and when the Queen offered him a knighthood, Sir Donald was very happy. But soon the 'Sir' quietly disappeared from his title. He wanted the top job in Hong Kong, and he needed Beijing’s blessing. 

The nonconforming 'Long hair' – founder of the League of Social Democrats and a member of the Legislative Council representing the New Territories East – told me two years ago that 'any leader who comes with the blessing of Beijing won’t ever serve the people of Hong Kong.'

Two years on, and Leung has catastrophically failed to serve the people of Hong Kong. He is not a leader, but a technocrat who makes the subway trains