Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has been accused of copying former chief secretary Rafael Hui Si-yan’s speech when he said on Sunday that he would happily trade places with Hong Kong middle school students.

Addressing this year’s Ten Outstanding Young Persons Selection ceremony, Leung said: “As Hong Kong’s chief executive, I’m very willing to switch roles with any middle school student at any Hong Kong middle school […] I think if I were a middle school student at any Hong Kong middle school today, I could have bigger achievements.”

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Leung delivers a speech at the ten outstanding young persons selection ceremony. Photo: HK government.

Leung said young people in Hong Kong now have more opportunities due to the city’s development and China’s growing strength. “Our country’s power is increasingly valued and Chinese people’s status in the world is becoming higher and higher.”

Eagle-eyed netizens spotted the similarity in Leung’s speech to one made by disgraced former official Hui a decade ago.

In 2005, in an address to an awards ceremony at his alma mater Queen’s College, Hui said: ” It seems unbelievable to recall that the last time I made an appearance on this very stage was 38 years ago, when I myself was a Form Six graduate. Instead of a microphone now in front of me, I then had my future before me, and you will perhaps forgive me for saying that, at present, I would happily change places with anyone of you students or graduates.”

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Rafael Hui.

Hui’s speech was brought up by the media last year when the 67-year-old was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison for corruption.

Some linked the incident with the controversial copyright amendment bill, which is being debated at the Legislative Council, and said Leung may have violated the law by copying Hui’s speech.

The Chief Executive’s Office belatedly applied for a license last week after uploading a video of Leung singing an unauthorised rendition of Beyond’s hit song “Like You.”

Over the weekend, netizens levied fresh charges of copyright infringement at Leung after he uploaded images of steamed buns shaped like Japanese cartoon character Hello Kitty.

Vivienne Zeng is a journalist from China with three years' experience covering Hong Kong and mainland affairs. She has an MA in journalism from the University of Hong Kong. Her work has been featured on outlets such as Al Jazeera+ and MSNBC.