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Scandals surrounding Hong Kong's chief executive may hinder voter turnout
From Mike Chinoy CNN Hong Kong Bureau Chief
HONG KONG (CNN) -- Two major scandals in advance of Sunday's elections for Hong Kong's legislature threaten to result in diminished voter support for parties associated with Hong Kong Chief Executive Tung Chee Hwa.
An appearance of collusion in the scandals among Hong Kong's government, business, politicians and academics has fueled public cynicism about Hong Kong politics, which could translate into lower voter turnout.
An independent panel of inquiry has concluded that Andrew Lo, Tung's closest aide, pressured officials at the University of Hong Kong to curb the work of a school pollster named Robert Chung whose surveys documented Tung's declining popularity.
"Even university presidents, senior academics, may be too eager to please the authorities," said Joseph Cheng of City University of Hong Kong. "Of course, this implies inadequate respect for freedom of expression, and freedom in general."
University president won't step down
The university's president, who conveyed Lo's warnings to the pollster, has rejected calls from student leaders and others to step down.
"I don't think I have made any mistakes," said Y.C. Cheng, Hong Kong University Vice Chancellor. "I am not going to submit my resignation."
In addition, Gary Cheng, a leading Tung supporter and deputy head of Hong Kong's largest pro-Beijing political party, has admitted to providing confidential documents to a company run by Hong Kong's richest tycoon, also a close Tung ally.
Demonstrations against Tung
June and July saw unprecedented demonstrations against Tung's policies and leadership style. Pro-China media and other forces associated with Beijing have used the events to cast protesters as anti-China, rather than as demonstrators speaking out against specific policy complaints.
Tung, a shipping magnate-turned-politician, was chosen as Hong Kong's leader in 1997 and assumed power after the island's historic transition from British control to Chinese control in July of that year.
Former student activist keeps tabs on China from Hong Kong
Hong Kong Legislative Council
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