With a public opinion poll lead of 52% to 26% over rival Henry Tang, CY Leung would be a shoe-in as Hong Kong’s next Chief Executive – if the public could vote. Instead, the winner will be chosen by Beijing and ‘elected’ in a sham poll with 1,200 mostly obedient voters. But if it is to have the slightest shred of credibility, the result cannot flatly contradict the popular mood. And, as the South China Morning Post says today, this leaves the Central People’s Government in a quandary.
Dreamers, naïfs and eternal optimists would love to believe that the Chinese leaders are happy to take orders from the people of Hong Kong and will at this stage drop Henry as their undeclared but laboriously-groomed preference. This could happen, but it would take riots, or at least a 2003-style jasmine uprising. Assuming the masses do not take to the streets (give it a couple of years), and with establishment bigwigs like Bank of East Asia boss David Li having nailed their colours to Henry’s mast, there is no going back: Henry’s opinion poll ratings must be improved.
His performance thus far has been little short of disgraceful when contrasted with that of CY, and his PR manager should ask him some tough questions. Being born into a rich family, you know everything will be handed to you on a plate, but do you have to be so obvious about it? Sure, having already been earmarked for the job, you’d prefer not to go through a stupid pseudo-campaign, but can’t you at least pretend to make an effort? With CY mingling with the poor and dispossessed and wowing students, what are doing collecting endorsements from people like landlord Allen Zeman? Most of all, why do you come across as such a total and utter dork?
He needs to be seen and photographed out and about more, doing the Hong Kong equivalent of Vladimir Putin’s bear-wrestling or bare-torso parachuting. That’ll be worth five percentage points. He needs to come up with an aggressively populist platform: HK$6,000-a-year handouts forever, tons more public housing and inane allowances and free lunches all over the place. Another five points. When the Imperial Handshake finally comes and people realize it will be Henry whether they like it or not, that‘ll be worth yet another five points in the polls – a sort of resigned, no-point-in-not-supporting-him phenomenon we’ve seen before.
One or two well-publicized flashes of what appears to be articulacy, a bit of underhand ‘come clean’ anti-Leung sniping in sympathetic media, trust that the pro-democrats – last heard of subverting the constitution, apparently – leech a bit of CY’s ratings, and touch wood not too many embarrassing photos of bastard offspring turn up. He should just about scrape by. (And then the fun really starts.)
We celebrate the opening of the weekend with an authentic quote from one of Henry’s limited number of fans: he “says the right things according to what other more intelligent people tell him to say”. With supporters like that…