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CY Leung of Hong Kong shows how not to talk to the world’s media

CY Leung of Hong Kong shows how not to talk to the world’s media


Alex Lo is a senior writer at the South China Morning Post. He writes editorials and the daily “My Take” column on page 2. He also edits the weekly science and technology page in Sunday Morning Post.

Someone sent me The New York Times’ write-up of the by-now-infamous interview with Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and I thought it was a spoof from The Onion. Actually, the New York satirical publication would not have been able to invent the story because the chief executive was saying things that simply couldn’t be made up.

You have probably heard his comment about how open elections would let the poor and grass roots of society dominate politics and create a welfare state. The sentiment is nothing unusual. It’s how the business elite and the government think, with their steadfast refusal to expand the social safety net for fear of creating a welfare state. We only do welfare for the rich. Still, it’s rare to have a leader speak so frankly.

“You look at the meaning of the words ‘broadly representative’, it’s not numeric representation,” Leung said.

“You have to take care of all the sectors in Hong Kong as much as you can and if it’s entirely a numbers game and numeric representation, then obviously you would be talking to half of the people in Hong Kong who earn less than US$1,800 a month.

“Then you would end up with that kind of politics and policies.”

Leung must be under a lot of stress from the Occupy movement. It’s not that people say things they don’t mean under stress; rather they say things they do mean.

To explain how he took care of “all sectors”, he boasted how he wooed 20 sports representatives on the election committee that led him to the top job.

“If it was an entirely universal suffrage election,” he said, “then the sports community would not count, they would not feature on my radar screen.”

Humm … maybe they really shouldn’t loom so large on your radar screen, Mr Leung?

On having the expensively renovated Government House to host meetings with aides because protesters were besieging his office, he bragged: “We didn’t miss a beat.”

And commenting on foreign forces being behind Occupy, Leung assured his audience: “I didn’t overhear it in a teahouse.” Boy, oh boy, thank God for that!

Leung has set the gold standard on how not to do a media interview for generations of politicians to come.

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