Governing Hong Kong: the poisoned chalice of politics

Credit: Reuters - Politics
Published on June 21, 2019 - Duration: 02:11s

Governing Hong Kong: the poisoned chalice of politics

A Hong Kong chief executive might be in charge of a free-wheeling, international financial hub, but they still remain accountable to China's Communist Party.

The job is like being caught between "the devil and the deep blue sea", says one senior official.

Michelle Hennessy reports.


Governing Hong Kong: the poisoned chalice of politics

If Hong Kong's protests have shown anything it's that you don't want to be this person.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) HONG KONG CHIEF EXECUTIVE CARRIE LAM, SAYING: "I personally, have to shoulder, much of the responsibility." And - embattled Chief Executive Carrie Lam is just the latest leader to cause a stir in the former British colony.

In fact, none of her three predecessors completed two full terms in office.

And many believe Lam's own days might be numbered: The extradition bill has resulted in a brawl between lawmakers on the floor of the legislature, and has now spilled over into the streets.

It's marking the biggest - and most violent - challenge to Beijing's ultimate authority in the 22 years since the handover.

Even though a chief executive is in charge - the execs still have to answer to China's Communist party - where control is paramount.

One source told Reuters, Hong Kong leaders have the hard task of keeping Beijing's authoritarian instincts in check, while serving Hong Kong's interests.

A city that's also under pressure from some of the world's highest house prices - and a slowing economy.

A task they linked to being forever caught between "the devil and the deep blue sea".

(SOUNDBITE) (English) HONG KONG CHIEF EXECUTIVE, CARRIE LAM, SAYING: "I have not received any instruction or mandate from Beijing to do this bill." Lam insists the bill is her own brainchild which would allow suspects to be sent to the mainland for trial.

The leader isn't elected by the people of Hong Kong, but rather a committee of largely pro-establishment figures.

So the people instead voted against it with their feet.

Organizers say more than a quarter of the population marched on Sunday (June 16) urging the complete withdrawal of the bill, and Beijing-backed Lam's resignation.

But sources say that, even if Beijing thought it was time - finding Lam's replacement would likely rekindle a debate about democracy.

Another burning problem would be a lack of candidates.

There's no queue of people willing to take on such a perilous position.

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