Opinion Politics & Protest

Why Hong Kong’s Chief Executive will be missed – or not

Please don’t go, CY! You have been such a source of comfort and refuge over the past five years. What will we do without you?

Who will we blame for our rigged political system? Who will we excoriate for our government’s boot-licking obedience to the central authorities in Beijing? Who will we say put the bricks and bottles into the hands of last February’s Lunar New Year rioters in Mong Kok?

In short, when we look into the mirror of Hong Kong’s problematic future, who now will we see? God forbid—it might very well be ourselves staring back at us.

kent goodbye cy

Yes, there we are: the yellow-ribbon occupiers and the blue-ribbon pro-government, pro-tear gas contingent, both groups angrier and more frustrated now than they were during the height of the so-called Umbrella Revolution of 2014. The ribbons may have come off two years after the last demonstrator packed up his or her tent and went home, ending Hong Kong’s 79-day pro-democracy sit-in, but the bitter memory of that fruitless effort remains very much alive. Indeed, attitudes have hardened and the yellow and blue camps have become even more polarised over the past two years.

And who has been the convenient avatar and ever-ready punching bag for this political divide? Thank you, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, for you prolonged and willing masochism. No other Hong Kong leader—pre- or post-handover—appeared to enjoy execration and countless other forms of abuse as much as you have.

police liaison office unrest sheung wan independence basic law protest

Photo: Mario Sixtus.

Peer deeper into the glass and you can see the independence-seekers and their self-determination cousins who, in a matter of several weeks, managed to turn their unlikely triumph in September’s Legislative Council Election into an unmitigated disaster that has seen two of their lot tossed out of the legislature for their shambolic oath-taking protests and four others now threatened with the same. Thanks to the reckless antics of the ousted lawmakers, Youngspiration’s Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching, a misguided middle-school prank has prompted a constitutional crisis allowing Beijing to drop a legislative hammer on Hong Kong politics via another toxic “interpretation” of the Basic Law by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress.

And, of course, we all know who filed the judicial reviews targeting the Younspiration duo and four other pan-democratic legislators. Thanks, again, CY—you are the man we love to hate.

Again, please reconsider your decision not to run for reelection. Without such a sinister adversary, how will the rest of us know how just and righteous is our cause?

cy leung

Photo: StandNews.

Take one final look into the glass today and see the ultimate blue-ribbon gang—former radio host Robert Chow Yung and his “Silent Majority” super-patriots—making regular treks to Beijing to be showered with praise by the likes of Standing Committee chairman Zhang Dejiang and held up as model citizens of a Chinese city where young people have lost their way and national security legislation and patriotic education are back on the front burners. Meanwhile, reasonable people on both sides of the ideological divide, people who remember that politics is the art of compromise, are increasingly reluctant to jump into Hong Kong’s vitriolic fray lest they, too, be consumed by its amalgam of hate, prejudice and resentment.

It’s a no-win game and, as you leave office, CY, you are the consummate reminder of this unfortunate reality. You did everything you could to please your masters in Beijing, including going after the lawmakers who mocked and humiliated the Chinese leadership in the LegCo chamber. But Beijing threw you under the bus anyway.

legco oath

Pan-democrats surrounded the Youngspiration duo against the Legco security guards. Photo: HKFP/Kris Cheng.

Yes, we know, family comes first and all that. But everybody also knows you wanted a second term so bad you could taste it, and each calculated, Machiavellian move you made was designed to achieve that aim. Family may be your excuse, but it’s not the real reason you stepped aside. Like Hong Kong’s first post-handover leader, Tung Chee-hwa, you jumped before you were pushed.

For five years, you have been a living, breathing symbol of everything that’s wrong with Hong Kong. It should be a relief to carry that burden no longer.

Enjoy the irony of your post-CE years: As we look around for future scapegoats for all our conflicts and problems, there could be a familiar refrain: ABC (Anyone But CY).

Why Hong Kong's Chief Executive will be missed - or not