Asia Hong Kong leader hints may seek re-election

Hong Kong leader hints may seek re-election

Hong Kong CEO C Y Leung
Hong Kong CEO C Y Leung

(AA) – Hong Kong’s unpopular chief executive has hinted he may seek another five-year term as leader when his current term is up in 2017, amid increased polarization following last year’s pro-democracy street demonstrations.

“I would not rule out any possibility,” CY Leung told reporters. 

“Whether to seek a second term is something [to be considered] later.”

According to a report in The Standard on Wednesday, Leung had previously failed to give a definite answer on whether he intended to continue in the job.

The chief executive sparked furor among pro-democracy protesters in February when he used his lunar new year message to ask the territory’s residents to behave more like “sheep” after a year “rife with differences”- an apparent reference to the months’ of pro-democracy street protests.

CY Leung – commonly derided as “Wolf” by activists – delivered his message to mark the Year of the Sheep, which started Feb. 19.

“Last year was no easy ride for Hong Kong. Our society was rife with differences and conflicts,” he said. Leader of the pro-democracy Civic Party Alan Leong told the Standard Wednesday that Leung was unreliable.

“Even if he says he would not run for chief executive, it is not trustworthy,” he said.

Last year’s protests had called for a fully democratic chief executive election with open nominations in 2017.

Beginning in late September, they were a response to the Chinese government’s decision to impose a condition that a body loyal to Beijing first approves the candidates. Leong said that the 27 pro-democracy legislators in the 70-seat Current Legislative Council of Hong Kong would vote against the government’s election reform proposal.

The government needs a two-thirds majority in the Council to pass the package, which is expected to be presented to lawmakers for a vote in June or July this year.

The proposal, handed down by Beijing Aug. 31 last year, would give Hong Kong voters a choice between two or three Beijing-approved candidates.

Democracy activists have described that as “North Korean style democracy.”

Protests against the proposal eventually morphed into a 79-day occupation of major roads in the city. But the protesters failed to move the government.

Reports in recent weeks quoting an anonymous source have said that Leung would be given another term as chief executive if pro-democracy legislators did block the proposal’s passage.

Those reports have been seen as an attempt to pressure the democracy camp to pass the package.

“No matter how he [Leung] scares us [by talking about his re-election], Hong Kong people cannot [accept the election proposal],” Civic Party leader Leong said, adding that if the package was accepted Hongkongers would have to live with it for the rest of their lives.

Beijing has promised the former British colony democracy but its lack of haste in delivering on its pledge has seen Hongkongers, especially young ones, grow impatient and resort to increasingly radical protest methods.

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