Donald Tsang

Politburo leader shows he's at home with the people

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 June, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 June, 2006, 12:00am

What impression did state leader Jia Qinglin make on the people he met on the first day of his visit to Hong Kong?

'Hong Kong people value the chance to meet state leaders ... and feel their charisma,' said Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen when he was received by the chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, ranked fourth in the Politburo.

But Mr Tsang could be considered too close to the centre of power to speak for the common people. So what did the pensioners, teachers and schoolchildren Mr Jia met have to say about him?

Having swapped his suit jacket for a short-sleeved shirt, Mr Jia won the approval of the Ng family during a 15-minute visit to their 500 sq ft home on a Tin Shui Wai public housing estate.

'He is very nice and kind. He's very concerned about Hong Kong affairs,' said 67-year-old retired maths teacher Ng Tuen-yuen.

'The atmosphere was good. I told him my life, which I spend listening to music, reading, travelling and hiking.'

His wife, Chan Lai-kwan, 59, barely understood a word Mr Jia said, and had to enlist the interpreting skills of Secretary for Home Affairs Patrick Ho Chi-ping. 'I don't understand what he said. I don't understand Putonghua,' she said.

Daughter Ng Yuen-fun, an English teacher at Heung To Middle School, said she would frame a piece of paper on which Mr Jia wrote words of encouragement.

Mr Jia presented the family gifts of a DVD player, a set of classical music CDs and an album of Chinese landscape paintings. The family described their daily routines and stressed their immersion in education: in addition to his daughter, two more of Mr Ng's four children are teachers.

To the dozens of primary school pupils lined up to greet the visiting leader during his tour of the nearby Hong Kong Wetland Park, Mr Jia's was hardly a familiar face.

'I know he is a state leader. He is our chairman,' said one of the children, who presented Mr Jia with a portrait.

'His voice did not scare small children,' said another.