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Hong Kong’s Hollow Leadership

HONG KONG – Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has been dogged by scandal from his first days in office, and his personal integrity is routinely impugned by much of the public. So it is no surprise that his popularity is plummeting.

Leung has only himself to blame. He seems incapable of connecting with ordinary Hong Kong citizens, instead coming across as a shifty politician who often dodges direct questions, offers vague answers, and evades responsibility for major failings by apologizing for minor shortcomings.

Leung staked his reputation on being able to tame Hong Kong’s absurdly inflated property market, and has failed miserably. Indeed, Hong Kong is now the most expensive city on the planet. It takes at least 13.5 years of mean household income to buy an average flat, according to one recent international survey. The comparable figure for London and New York is 7.8 years and 6.2 years, respectively.

Rising property prices are making middle-class flat owners multimillionaires, while their children – even with a good university degree – can hardly afford private housing without parental help. Leung has advocated that young people leave Hong Kong to work in less expensive countries.