Donald Tsang

Tsang smiles his way through imperfect ending

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 01 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 01 July, 2012, 12:00am


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Donald Tsang Yam-kuen smiled his way through his final hours in office - but acknowledged that the final months of his term were less than perfect as he said goodbye to the public at Government House.

With a warm hug for Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah, a handshake for every member of staff and bouquets from the head of his office and personal secretary, Tsang departed his home and workplace of the last seven years for good shortly before 11pm last night. His term formally expired at midnight.

With his wife, Selina Tsang Pou Siu-mei, at his side, Tsang addressed the media and colleagues, including staff from his office and home, his personal bodyguards, police escorts and drivers.

'I will be forever thankful to you, Hong Kong. We aimed for a perfect ending, but of course, some lines just don't rhyme,' he said, in English and Chinese.

'I've counted each of the 2,567 days [in office] as a great blessing. It was my supreme honour to serve Hong Kong.'

Perhaps in a nod to recent scandals about his stays at expensive hotels during visits overseas on government business, Tsang said his first night out of office would be spent in a hotel room that he had arranged and paid for.

And he did not repeat the tradition established by colonial governors of driving three times around the roundabout in the mansion's grounds as he was whisked away in a government car, with police officers at his side.

Tsang said he believed his successor, Leung Chun-ying, would 'lead Hong Kong into a new era and brighter future'.

The 67-year-old's time as chief executive was one of social upheaval and personal turmoil for the career civil servant, who saw his popularity rating slump below even that of his predecessor Tung Chee-hwa.

In his last appearance on RTHK's Hong Kong Letter yesterday, Tsang said he 'grew and breathed with the Hong Kong people' and despite hardships, 'Hong Kong people never lost their fighting spirit'. He urged Hongkongers to unite behind Leung's government.

Tsang, a civil servant since 1967, said he planned to visit friends overseas, but wanted to stay in Hong Kong - despite having earlier planned to lease an apartment in Shenzhen from a tycoon. Tsang was forced to tear up the lease agreement amid accusations he had been given a favourable rate on the property.

He has ruled out writing his memoirs or commenting on the new government's performance.