Donald Tsang

Political Animal

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 15 May, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 15 May, 2007, 12:00am

Ministers keep their eyes on hot properties

The chief executive and his ministers may have had a lot on their minds politically in recent months, but it hasn't blinded them to opportunities in the property market. Government records show Donald Tsang Yam-kuen sold his flat in Surrey, southern England, in December, though Political Animal wonders if he regrets not having waited a little longer to cash in on the rising pound.

A month later, home affairs chief Patrick Ho Chi-ping declared having sold his house in Dongguan , Guangdong. He was joined by environment minister Sarah Liao Sau-tung, who bought two plots of land in Florida, with three of her siblings during the same month. In mid-February, civil service minister Denise Yue Chung-yee bought her fifth apartment, in Wan Chai. She already has two apartments in Central and Western district, in addition to a holiday home in Guangdong and an apartment in Toronto.

Lonely night on the balcony for Martin Lee?

He may still be remembered by some as the 'Father of Democracy' in Hong Kong, but Martin Lee Chu-ming seems to be having trouble raising enthusiasm for his plan to commemorate the handover's 10th anniversary. Mr Lee wants to stage a protest at midnight on June 30 on the Legco building's balcony - the time and place where, 10 years earlier, the democrats protested at the dissolution of the pre-handover legislature and its replacement by the provisional legislative council.

Former Democratic Party member Albert Chan Wai-yip, who has since joined the League of Social Democrats, said he would not return because he no longer agreed with his former comrades. 'These people have no right to stand there any more to pretend they are freedom fighters,' he said.

'Ten years after the handover, they have dropped their principles and joined the small-circle elections,' he said, in reference to the democrat-backed but doomed chief executive challenge by Alan Leong Kah-kit. Emily Lau Wai-hing of The Frontier said: 'I would rather stand with the people.'

As well as the departure of old faces from the legislature, logistics might also prove a problem. A spokeswoman for the Legco secretariat said although there were no rules governing use of the balcony, 'the secretary-general does not consider the balcony a suitable venue for members to host functions'.

Tsang's team-building task not so easy

With the inauguration of the next administration less than seven weeks away, the chief executive is under pressure to complete the highly sensitive task of cabinet appointments in time.

An insider said although there was speculation about who would do what in the next team, nothing had been fixed. 'Mr Tsang probably has an idea about who should stay and who should go. He remains undecided about details of the lineup. But time is running short. He will have to make up his mind in the next week or two.'

Naturally, uncertainty breeds anxiety. Some cabinet members have held out hopes their boss will be more decisive in composing his next team.

Another source close to the Tsang team said: 'One thing is certain: Mr Tsang is still very keen to have new faces who are aged below 50 in his team. Not surprisingly, it is not going to be easy.'