Hong Kong's Leung Chun-Ying hit by anti-Beijing protests
Hong Kong's chief is under pressure over his home renovations and close ties to China's rulers
MASSED demonstrations against Hong Kong's controversial chief executive Leung Chun-Ying are evidence of the "widening political divisions" in the former British colony, says The Times.
Organisers claim more than 130,000 people took party in yesterday's rally demanding that Leung – "a suave businessman with links to Beijing" – resign over allegations he lied about illegal renovations to his luxury mansion.
But Hong Kong's deepening political divisions, 15 years after it reverted to Chinese rule, were highlighted by the fact that "thousands" more Hong Kong residents marched in support of the embattled executive.
It is ironic, says The Times, that Leung is being pursued over claims he has lied about renovations to his mansion, considering he got Hong Kong's top job about six months ago by exploiting similar allegations against his predecessor, Henry Tang. Flashy, illegal home extensions "play badly" in the city because soaring property prices force most people to live in tiny flats.
The allegations about Leung's building work mask more complex political issues, says the Daily Telegraph. Leung was appointed by a 1,193-member committee of "mostly pro-Beijing elites" and his close ties to China's mandarins are increasingly unpopular in the semi-autonomous state. At yesterday's demonstration one man was dressed as a wolf wearing a Communist Red Guard uniform and others waved Hong Kong's British colonial-era flag.
The South China Morning Post says the demonstrations have badly damaged Leung's chances at the 2017 poll when Hong Kong's citizens will be able to vote directly for a chief executive for the first time. Beijing had wanted Leung to win the election, the paper says, but his increasing unpopularity suggests he may be replaced prior to the vote.