03/26/2012, 00.00
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Leung Chun-ying elected as Hong Kong's new chief executive

by Eugenia Zhang
The new leader won 689 votes out of 1,200 great electors, 0.02 per cent of eligible voters. Leung beat pro-business Henry Tang, and Albert Ho, the only pro-democracy candidate. Some 2,000 people, including some Christians, demonstrate in favour of universal suffrage, calling for an end to pro-Beijing lobby-centred elections.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - In a city of 7.1 million people, the fourth Chief Executive-elect Leung Chun-ying was elected with 689 of the votes from the 1,200-member Election Committee yesterday (March 25).

He will replace outgoing Donald Tsang, a Catholic, as the Chief Executive and will assume office on July 1, 2012, the 15th anniversary of the reversion of Hong Kong to Chinese rule, for a five-year term.

The number of winning votes was the lowest of the chief executive elections since Hong Kong reverted to Chinese rule in 1997. Leung's rivals Henry Tang, supported by business sectors, got 285 and pro-democracy candidate Albert Ho received 76.

Soon after the election, China's Xinhua news agency reported that the election had been "open, fair, and just".

During the election, about 2,000 protesters, including Christians, staged a demonstration outside the election venue against the small-circle elections, and urged for universal suffrage for the elections of the Chief Executive and all legislators. Police used pepper spray against protesters, including Labour Party head and legislator Lee Cheuk-yan, a Protestant.

Lina Chan, executive secretary of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong, told AsiaNews that civic groups including Christian organizations will march on April 1 to call for full democracy in Hong Kong. "This is small-circle election. This does not represent the voice of Hong Kong people. We want full democracy," she said.

After winning the election, Leung called for unity in society and pledged to safeguard the core values of Hong Kong - the rule of law, a clean government and the freedom of press, speech and assembly. He said he would take on this enormous task "with humility and gratitude".

Regarding the legislation of Article 23 of the Basic Law on national security, Leung said he would strive for the consensus of the public on the issue.

Leung, 57, was the convenor of the Executive Council, an organ assisting the Chief Executive in policy-making, until his resignation for the election in September 2011. He was a member of the "pro-establishment bloc" of Hong Kong politics. He is a standing committee member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

On the eve of the election, nearly 223,000 joined in a poll run by the University of Hong Kong's Public Opinion Programme. The results showed around 54 percent chose to cast blank votes, as they wanted neither one of the three candidates. Of the votes cast in favour of Leung was nearly 18 percent, followed by Tang with 16 percent and Ho with 11 percent.

The editorials of the March 25 issue of the two Catholic diocesan weeklies in English and Chinese here criticized the "small-circle elections not democratic". Under this system, "whoever is elected will lack legitimacy in the eyes of the public" and "the voice of the grassroots is ignored and government policies continue to be formulated in favour of conglomerates, leading to a widening gap between rich and poor," they said.


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