HK Chief Executive

Appearance, Appearance, Appearance

After much attention on the 2012 Chief Executive Elections, Leung Chun-ying ultimately emerged the new Chief-Executive elect. Although not seen as the ideal candidate, he certainly held the lead in terms of opinion polls, and probably has some genuine support, more so than many of his rivals. A major part of his victory was down to his ability to project a sense that he was the public’s choice and Henry Tang merely China’s choice. This appearance was certainly helped by his visits to public housing estates etc.

What is surprising is his failure to recognize the importance of public perception in the aftermath of the vote. His first order of business, visit the Chinese Liason office. Certainly there are good reasons to do so, though I am doubtful of his explanation. However, for argument’s sake, let’s put aside the suggestion that he went to thank the Chinese Liason Office for their unofficial official support at the end of the campaign. Even if he had a legitimate reason for visiting, he should be well aware of the perception that it would give. I think it is safe to assume that he doesn’t live in a vacuum of his own, which means that he would be fully aware of media reports on the heavy show of hand by the Chinese Liason office as well as the fear that the Chinese government was unnecessarily meddling in Hong Kong affairs. Then it should be clear, even if there is a good reason to visit the Liason Office, such as visit would best be done at another time, in another place, in a more sensitive way. What baffles me is how a candidate can be so conscious of public sentiment during the campaign, and almost instantly ignore or fail to even consider public perception.
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Yes, or just No? Public opinion during HK Chief Executive Election 2012

This year’s Hong Kong Chief Executive Election has been anything but normal. As I noted last time, it was instrumental in creating new norms that I feel will be beneficial in the future. One of the more interesting aspects was of this years campaign was the swings in public opinion, which I believe had a distinct impact on the race as a whole. More interestingly, was support for any of the candidates a ‘Yes’ in support of them, or merely a ‘No’ in opposition?

From the off, Leung chun-ying seemed to have the upper hand in public opinion, with regular reports of how he was besting Henry Tang by sometimes double digits. On the surface of it, it seemed that the Hong Kong people prefered Leung, who was seen as having an outsiders chance of dethroning Tang, who at the time was perceived as ‘China’s pick’. In many respects, this may be true. Certainly, Tang was the first to be hit by a series of scandals with his marriage laid out in full view, followed by massive cranes being put outside his Kowloon Tong residence. So in the midst of the campaign, you had Leung, who was seen as popular and the people’s choice, in comparison to Tang who was scandal hit and China’s choice.

With Tang’s rather unwarranted outbursts revealing Exco meeting details, it became increasingly clear that he would be an unviable candidate, lacking both public opinion and having a long series of unforced errors. Attention then swung quite strongly towards Leung. However, Leung turned out to have a closet of his own with allegations of corruption and very-late-coming allegations from Tang of being an advocate for greater power and more limited freedoms. Also, in the closing stages of the campaign, there were further questions as to whether Leung was an underground member of the Chinese Communist Party. All this helped turn the perception of Leung as the under-dog to the presumed Chinese pick, something that the Chinese liaison office seemed to support by almost openly canvasing for electors to vote for Leung.
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