Get over it and move on

Updated: 2012-12-19 05:57

By Joseph Li (HK Edition)

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Get over it and move on

Executive Councillor Regina Ip thinks that for Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying to get back to the real business again, he needs to win the support of the people, because there is no significant public opinion urging him to step down. All photos: Edmond Tang / China Daily

Executive Councillor Regina Ip believes that for Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying to get back on the road again, he needs to minimize further political damage to his credibility and formulate sound policies that address Hong Kong's problems, she told Joseph Li.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying (CE) is stuck in the serialized saga over illegal structures in his private properties. The opposition is chasing him, demanding his head and casting about for any means to bring him down, including a no-confidence motion, seeking to invoke the Legislative Council (Powers & Privileges) Ordinance to investigate the illegal structures and even a motion of impeachment.

Executive Councillor Regina Ip remarks that not only is the CE going through a very tough time, the uproar has also swept up the SAR government and pro-establishment lawmakers into the swirling vortex.

To many, Leung appeared to be less than honest when he explained himself before Legislative Council (LegCo), on Dec 10, Ip observes. But in the same breath, she said, many citizens also are fed up with news reports about illegal structures and the excessive political wrangling going on in Hong Kong. People believe Leung should be given a chance to turn a new chapter.

"Opposition lawmakers have exploited every permissible means to chase him, exhausting our energy and time," Ip told China Daily in an exclusive interview. "We can do very little about that, given that LegCo has a duty to monitor the government. In their striving for favorable public opinion, opposition lawmakers have attacked the CE and the government at every turn, to gain credit and media coverage, especially electronic media coverage."

She said Leung should have shown greater sincerity by making more admissions to LegCo instead of playing the "word game".

Get over it and move on

"If he told LegCo he had not told the whole truth because human nature dictated that, and he had to try to protect himself during the Chief Executive Election by not admitting to the illegal structures during the campaign, the lawmakers might have accepted him," she said.

But Ip acknowledged it would be a "double-edged sword" that cut both ways if Leung admitted too many mistakes.

"If he apologized with a bow, the scene would be replayed on TV again and again and that would cause great damage," she commented.

Fortunately, Christmas is coming and it is a time for a break from political activities.

For Leung to get back on the road again, Ip thinks he needs to do two things to win the support of the people, because there is no significant public opinion urging him to step down.

"First, Mr Leung needs to minimize political damage to his credibility, that's to say, minimize further negative news about him and the government by avoiding further mistakes.

"Second, he needs to formulate sound policies and show he has the ability to implement them to resolve Hong Kong's social, economic and livelihood problems, such as housing and poverty alleviation," she suggested. She singled out Shiu Sin-por, head of Central Policy Unit, characterizing him as an overly aggressive person whose inflammatory remarks would bring troubles to the government.

"I respect Mr Leung because he is a very hard working person. I hope he can get over it," she said, citing the example of Bill Clinton who escaped impeachment while he was president of the United States.

As a member of the cabinet, a lawmaker and the head of a political party, Ip said it is not easy keeping balance whilst walking along that tight rope.

Although her remarks are not always consistent with the government line, many people admire her and Executive Councillor Convenor Lam Woon-kwong for speaking the truth.

"The prime duty of an ExCo (Executive Council) member is to give good, independent advice to the CE, instead of simply voting in favor of the government in the LegCo. And good advice is based on honest opinion and sound political judgment.

"With the baptism of direct elections, I understand public opinion. And I think it is important for the CEO of any organization to include people of different opinions in order to have diversity, instead of sustaining yes-men or yes-women, in the organization.

"If we do not speak the truth we will lose our credibility and nobody will believe us if we have no credibility. I think Mr Leung understands," she explained.

Get over it and move on

Zhou Li (left), publisher and editor-in-chief of China Daily Asia Pacific, talks to Regina Ip during an exclusive interview. Ip believes good advice is based on honest opinion and sound political judgment.

(HK Edition 12/19/2012 page4)