By Choi Ho Yee (Elise), Yang Shutong (Emma) and Tsoi Ki Lik (Alex)
Back in 2012, Leung Chun-ying took office as chief executive of Hong Kong under controversy over unauthorized building work in his home that brought discredit to him. After more than three years, Hongkongers’ discontent to him and the government only grow.
During the annual July 1 rally and other protests, people demand CY to step down and call him a “big liar” and ‘’689” which means he only has 689 votes in the CE election. These signs show that CY doesn’t fulfill what he had promised when he ran the office. The data from public opinion programme by University of Hong Kong shows CY’s popularity slumped 10 percent during his tenure til now. The rating kept going down from 51.5 percent in 2012 to the most recent at 41.3 percent.
Possible reason 1: Hong Kong’s leading position as world financial centre and main port faces challenge amid slowing-down economic growth
“We must capitalise on the opportunities to consolidate and elevate Hong Kong’s status as an international financial centre and help the shipping industry to restructure and upgrade. ” as CY promised in his inauguration ceremony.
But over the past four years, Hong Kong’s average GDP growth rate is 2.43 percent, falling behind that of Singapore at 3.59 percent and the East Asia and Pacific region’s GDP growth rate benchmark of 3.94 percent. Hong Kong’s leading position compared with the cities in Mainland China also is challenged as well. 15 year ago, Hong Kong accounted for 18 percent of China’s GDP and were the unchallenged conduit between the dark, unknown Chinese interior, and the global business community. Today, Hong Kong accounts for barely more than 2 percent of China’s GDP. There is much work for CY to do to keep his promises to maintain the city as “ World Finance Centre”.
Hong Kong’s port has kept the city afloat from its very earliest days until the present. Identified as one of Hong Kong’s four pillar industries, trading and logistics also employs 767,000 Hongkongers, putting the esteemed finance and headline-grabbing tourism industries in the shade.
During CY’s term, Hong Kong was surpassed by both Shanghai and Shenzhen on the list of the world’s busiest container ports; soon, another mainland port, Ningbo-Zhoushan, is projected to pass Hong Kong as well, pushing down the former frontrunner to fifth place globally.
Some observers attribute this downward trend to a slowdown in the Chinese economy, but across the border at Shenzhen’s Yantian International Container Terminals throughput has shown a year-on-year growth of 4.4 percent, recording a cumulative increase of six percent for the first nine months of the year.
Mounting competition, however, is not the only factor leading to what Chambers called the “demise” of Hong Kong’s port. Many ships choose mainland ports over Hong Kong’s because of worsening congestion—a long-standing problem that many believe the government has waited too long to address.
Possible reason 2: Skyrocketing property prices and inadequate public housing
Hong Kong is known for her highly affordable property prices, and the prices kept rising during CY’s tenure. Private domestic price index rose 60 percent from early 2011 at 185.2 to 305 points in September 2015 while that of rental index rose 28 percent from 137.4 to 176.2 points in the same period. At the same time, CY’s supporting kept dropping in the period.
Link: Property price index and rating of CY (Tableau Public)
However, the government has done little job to alleviate housing problems. Comparing to CY’s manifesto when he ran for the leader of the city, he promises that he would provide adequate public rental housing (PRH) units. The government has stepped up to construct more PRH. Therefore, the number of PRH units rose but at the same time, the number of PRH applicants also increased. In 2013, CY met the needs of 32 percent of the applicants and this year, it rose to 38 percent. However, the queue for PRH is still long that they wait for an average of 3.6 years to get a home from the government.
Possible reason 3: Commodities’ prices keep increasing and residents need to pay more to maintain the same standard of living
The growth of Composite CPI was volatile, with the overall down-side trend. The expenditure per person increased 3.9 percent since CY took the office, higher than the inflation rate of 2.4 percent and income growth rate of 3.7 percent. The increasing prices give Hong Kong households more pressure.
The expenditure of housing and food counts largest parts of total consumption. In 2012, Hong Kong people spent one third of their money on housing. Four years later, they have to spend 4/9 of their money on housing. As the housing became more and more expenditure, Hong Kong people spent almost half of their expenditure on it.
Possible reason 4: Stable unemployment rate saves some marks
The unemployment rate fluctuates but stayed around at 3.3 percent during the four-year period from 2011 to 2015. It shows that CY has done a good job to keep almost everyone employed.
The age group of 15 to 19 years old normally has the highest unemployment rate. CY has realized this problem since he always says that the government would give more chance for the youth to show their talents. According to the Administrative Report 2014, there are at least four policies aiming to help the youngsters, that involves a total of more than HK$1.6 billion.
Economic development, housing and inflation are the most imminent and closest issues to Hongkongers’ lives. CY Leung has one and half year to go for his tenure, it is still a mystery that whether he will run for CE again in 2017. But one thing is for sure that he has to work harder to tackle these issues to save his popularity and more importantly, for the sake of the future of Hongkongers.