As protests continue in the crowded city of Hong Kong, thousands of immigrants and low-income families live in tiny subdivided units, unable to afford sky-high rents. Meanwhile, leader Leung Chun-ying lives a lavish lifestyle in an upscale community.
Leung proved today that he is not a "man of the people". Instead, he came off as an elitist out of touch with the realities of living in Hong Kong.
He said that open elections shouldn't happen because "many poor" might end up dominating politics.
Leung gave the interview to the Financial Times, The New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal and reiterated his position that free elections were impossible:
“If it’s entirely a numbers game—numeric representation—then obviously you’d be talking to half the people in Hong Kong [that] earn less than US$1,800 a month. You would end up with that kind of politics and policies.”
Leung made millions in real estate and has the nickname “emperor of the working class.” Already he has been hung in effigy, depicted as Dracula, and openly told to go to hell during the protests in Hong Kong.
"He wanted to present himself as someone from the grassroots, not linked to the tycoons... but people have been terribly disappointed," says Joseph Cheng, a professor of political science at City University of Hong Kong.
His attitude towards the poor seems to run in the family. Earlier this month, his daughter reportedly attacked posters online who criticized a necklace she was wearing in her profile picture.
On her Facebook page, she sarcastically thanks her detractors by pointing out that the necklace and her other expensive clothes were paid for by public funds through her father's salary. She added: "Most of you here are probably unemployed... it's okay - your mother still loves you."
Almost 20 percent of Hong Kong residents, or 1.31 million people, are under an official poverty line.