Former chief executive Leung Chun-ying has said that the weakening of the opposition camp leaves the city free to focus on its core issues. He was speaking in an interview with financial paper, the Nikkei Asian Review.

The former leader “hailed” changes to the Legislative Council that saw amendments to its procedural rules, in addition to a reduction in the number of opposition lawmakers, the paper reported.

Leung Chun-ying. File photo: In-Media.

“The opposition force in Hong Kong has been considerably weakened if you compare the list of opposition members of LegCo today with the list two years ago,” Leung said. “The capabilities of opposition members today are very different. It’s much more difficult for the opposition to filibuster.”

Six lawmakers from the pro-democracy camp have been disqualified since the 2016 legislative elections over protests made during their oath-taking. The disqualifications means the camp lost its power to veto motions, bills and amendments which require support from a majority of lawmakers in both the geographical and functional constituencies.

In a move that was widely seen as taking advantage of the vacant seats, the pro-establishment camp pushed through amendments to the legislature’s rule book in December, with an aim to suppress filibustering.

The pro-democracy camp failed to regain its veto power in a  by-election held in March to fill the seats, only managing to reclaim two of the lost seats.

“Generally speaking, people now have more respect for the rule of the law,” Leung said. He added that the government has the “resolve to deal with people who step on the wrong side of the law.”

Legislative Council chamber. Photo: Catherine Lai/HKFP.

Leung decided not to seek re-election at the end of 2016, citing family reasons. He is currently serving as a vice-chair of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference – China’s top advisory body.

See also: Goodbye CY: Ten unprecedented events under Hong Kong’s outgoing leader, Part I

Leung faces a legislative probe into a controversial HK$50 million payment that he received from Australian firm UGL while he was in office. However, the chair of the committee said the investigation may vanish with no outcome after receiving no responses from government departments and a lack of cooperation from Leung himself.

The Department of Justice has not decided whether to prosecute Leung over the matter.

Asked about the case, Leung told Nikkei Asian Review that he has not heard about it from the government. “I’ll leave it to them,” he said.

Just before his term ended, Leung’s popularity rating stood at 37.6 out of 100 – below the popularity “warning line” of 45 – according to a poll conducted by the University of Hong Kong’s Public Opinion Programme.


Catherine Lai

Catherine is a Canadian journalist and photographer who lived in Beijing for almost two years, working in TV and online media. Aside from Hong Kong and mainland affairs, she is also interested in urban spaces, art and feminism. She holds a BA in Literature and Art History from the University of British Columbia.