Henry Tang coy on reports linking him to new chief secretary post

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 03 June, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 03 June, 2007, 12:00am

Financial Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen did not deny reports yesterday that he will succeed Rafael Hui Si-yan as chief secretary on July 1.

Mr Tang said the central government would have the wisdom to appoint the right person to the post.

'The new cabinet is to be appointed by the central government, while the chief executive is to nominate candidates,' he said. 'As a minister still holding the post [of financial secretary], I should not and will not comment on the issue.'

Sources said on Friday that Mr Hui had decided not to serve in Mr Tsang's next administration. Another source said John Tsang Chun-wah, director of the Chief Executive's Office, had been put forward to Beijing for the post of financial secretary.

Mr Tang had plenty to say about his experience as financial secretary over the past four years.

'Before the handover, no one could have imagined the economy would face so many tough challenges,' he said. 'I always believe in striving for something better even during adversity ... I also have confidence in Hong Kong people to overcome difficulties with perseverance.'

He also spoke about democracy in a Commercial Radio interview.

Since Mr Tsang had pledged to resolve the issue of universal suffrage during his upcoming term, Mr Tang said communication would be the key to finding a solution.

'The people ... have asked for and are looking forward to the implementation of universal suffrage. The government will respond to the demand appropriately,' he said. 'Hong Kong is a city of diversity. It is impossible for everyone to come up with the same view after studying a proposal. The important thing is to respect each other's opinion.'

Speaking on another programme, executive councillor Ronald Arculli would not be drawn on the speculation Mr Tang would replace Mr Hui.

'But from the perspective of a friend, it is a highly challenging job to be the chief secretary. I would wish the appointee good luck,' he said.

Allen Lee Peng-fei, a local delegate to the National People's Congress and a former adviser to Beijing on Hong Kong affairs, said Mr Tang would be suitable for the post.

'[Mr Tang] has become more mature after years of training and experience. With his experience in politics and knowledge of civil service matters, he is quite suitable,' Mr Lee said.