CY Leung is unlikely to get the green light to run for a second term despite all the ‘favourable’ independence calls ahead of the chief executive election, a veteran democrat says.
Thunder and lightning roll and flash from LegCo and the Liaison office to the courts and Beijing in the “Swearing versus Swearing In” affair. But the real drama is for the real power: The CE job. That storm is just beginning to brew.
Granted, the recent dramas surrounding the swearing-in saga and a possible Beijing intervention into the affair are intriguing to some and worrying to many. However it is the upcoming chief executive election that really matters, and CY Leung (梁振英) may not be part of it.
Sin Chung-kai (單仲偕), a veteran Democrat and former lawmaker, told Harbour Times that the ‘Anyone-But-CY (ABC)’ discourse will drive not only the pro-democracy camp, but also the 300 strong voters in the business sector. Mr Sin believes a successful showing in December’s Election Committee subsector elections will itself be a strong enough signal to Beijing to encourage the capital’s power brokers to drop CY Leung as a CE option.
“Policy-wise, whatever is happening in the LegCo is irrelevant for the next three or four months, as the administration will avoid tabling controversial bills which can harm CY Leung’s electioneering,” Sin says. “But my thought is that CY Leung won’t even be allowed to run for chief executive in the first place. […] So the more [seats] we [democrats] get, the more likely it will be that Leung will not be one of the candidates.”
Pan-democrats won about 200 out of 1,200 seats in the 2011 election committee. Given the promising results in the recent LegCo elections, they are now shooting for at least 300 seats, targeting in particular the subsectors for the professionals. In 2012, CY Leung became the Chief Executive with 689 votes, earning himself a derogatory nickname ‘689’. Mr Sin argues Beijing would not like to see another chief executive who barely gets past the 600-vote threshold: “The power is not the real fight at the end of the day. It’s Beijing who can and who will decide the next chief executive. We the pan-democrats meanwhile can exert our influence to let Beijing realise that it will have to run against a substantial current to put CY Leung back in.”
Mr Sin adds that Beijing also has its own reasons not to back CY Leung. Rumours have suggested that CY Leung has had close affiliation to the gang of Zhou Yongkang (周永康), former Politburo Standing Committee member and a political rival of Xi Jinping (習近平). With the General Secretary recently reasserting his core role in the leadership of the Communist Party following Zhou’s eventual fall in 2015, there is one more plus sign for the ‘ABC’ camp.
“So CY Leung’s last resort will be to play the independence card. I suspect Leung’s original plan was to blow up the issue in February and March as an excuse to push Beijing to support him, but now even that is not proceeding in Leung’s way,” Mr Sin suggests. “You can see how desperately Andrew Fung [information coordinator for the chief executive office] has been writing to defend his boss. In fact the more he writes, the more it proves that Leung has yet to secure a blessing from Beijing.”
You move first
For Mr Sin, the real race won’t surface until December despite Woo Kwok-hing’s (胡國興) early move to announce his candidacy. He dismisses rumours that the retired judge’s participation is targeting John Tsang Chun-wah (曾俊華), saying that there is room for vote-splitting for a small, well-informed group of 1,200 people.
“Judging from Woo’s recent discourse, I believe his presence will instead keep the approval rates of CY Leung at a considerably lower level than that of John Tsang,” Sin predicts. “It will be to John Tsang’s advantage to stay cool and let the ‘ABC’ line dictate the results of the Election Committee elections.”
Mr Sin himself will form a ticket and run in the Information Technology subsector election. He still has faith in Beijing to make the right decision at least when it comes to its choice for Chief Executive: “Beijing will take into account all the scenarios. All we have to do is make our voices clear that we do not want another five years under CY Leung’s administration and hopefully Beijing will make a case for Hong Kong.”