Tsang shows his hand (and so do the big names backing him)
Next stop the election trail as chief secretary steps down; He's the best man to lead Hong Kong, says rival Henry Tang
Declaring a 'deep sense of responsibility to Hong Kong', Donald Tsang Yam-kuen last night officially launched his bid to be the next chief executive.
Announcing his long-expected candidacy for the top job, two hours after his resignation as chief secretary, Mr Tsang said he was 'fearless and dauntless' because he had no selfish motives in running.
'Hong Kong is my home. I do feel a deep sense of responsibility to Hong Kong,' he said. 'That is why I have decided to step forward to embrace this new challenge. I want to work with Hong Kong people to take our community and economy to new heights.'
Mr Tsang who had earlier been cagey about his ambitions, admitted he had been thinking about his bid since Tung Chee-hwa resigned as chief executive in early March.
'Since the chief executive's position became vacant, I have often asked myself whether I should rise to a higher challenge,' he said.
The 38-year civil service and cabinet veteran - all along the hot favourite to succeed Mr Tung - received endorsement from leading businessmen even before his resignation was announced.
His candidacy was also backed by Financial Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen - himself once mentioned as a possible candidate - who said the former chief secretary was better suited than him to be chief executive.
Mr Tsang's resignation was announced less than half an hour after legislators passed an amendment to the Chief Executive Election Ordinance to shorten the new chief's term to two years until 2007. He is now on leave pending Beijing's approval of his resignation.
'After the State Council's approval, I will share my philosophy on governance with the community as soon as possible. I will announce my election manifesto and I will explain my belief and values to the 800 Election Committee members and to the 7 million people of Hong Kong,' he said. 'I will work hard to engage the community and garner their support.'
Mr Tsang made a point of thanking civil servants. 'I must extend special thanks to colleagues of the administrative service ... the disciplined services and from all the departmental and professional grades.'
Mr Tang, who has taken over from Mr Tsang as acting chief executive, said Mr Tsang was 'the most capable and suitable person to be elected'.
'I consider him a highly capable official with extensive administrative experience. And his performance has been well received and well supported by the people of Hong Kong,' Mr Tang said. 'I wish him success in his bid.'
Bank of East Asia chairman David Li Kwok-po, the chairman of Mr Tsang's election office, said the former chief secretary was the best candidate to lead Hong Kong.
Monetary authority deputy chief executive Norman Chan Tak-lam, who resigned last month and leaves office today, will join the team as campaign manager.
Henry Fok Ying-tung, a vice-chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, said Mr Tsang enjoyed the support of the majority of Hong Kong people given his recent performance.
'Hong Kong's economy is picking up recently. If there is any good sign, of course it is associated with Mr Tsang, who served as the acting chief executive,' Mr Fok said.
Victor Fung Kwok-king, chairman of the Airport Authority and Li & Fung Group, said he had always considered Mr Tsang an outstanding administrator and he enjoyed broad support from Hong Kong people.
Vincent Cheng Hoi-chuen, chairman of the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corp, said: 'I do believe it's a good thing for Donald Tsang to run for the post of chief executive. He is a career civil servant and is very familiar with the workings of government.'