Donald Tsang

HK prepared for suffrage: Tsang

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 05 September, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 05 September, 2007, 12:00am

The chief executive pledged yesterday to deliver universal suffrage, saying 'one thing was missing' from Hong Kong - people's right to choose and remove their leaders.

Appearing at an exchange session before more than 600 students at the University of Hong Kong, Donald Tsang Yam-kuen asserted his belief in universal suffrage and said the city was now prepared for it.

'It is true, we do not need a universal suffrage system to underpin the cherished values that Hong Kong has - the values of fair play, rule of law, human rights ... because those are enshrined in the constitution, the Basic Law...

'But there is one further thing missing - that is the participation of everybody in a sense. People must be given a choice. The choice to choose their leaders, I think that is universal ... the choice to remove their leaders as well.'

During the session, which included live feeds to students in Beijing and Shanghai, Mr Tsang said his policy address on October 10 would be based on the framework set in his election manifesto and pledges.

Questions from four student panellists as well as the floor revolved around topics such as air quality, health care, the wealth gap and Hong Kong's ability to maintain itself as an international city.

Mr Tsang said Hong Kong's contribution to the mainland was its cosmopolitan outlook, 'so speaking grammatical, good English is important ... as well as speaking good Putonghua ... a lot better than myself. We have problems learning it at the age of 45, but you are a lot younger. I have lots of excuses. You don't.'

Mr Tsang's mistaken use of the word gao hao to describe the Chinese exams instead of gao kao did not go unnoticed.

As in the past, Mr Tsang also defended Hong Kong's air quality.

'Since this administration came into being on July 1, we have had blue skies every day,' he said, disputing a claim that people had to breathe foul air. Displaying his handkerchief, he said: 'See for yourself, clean.'