Tang calls Tiananmen 'individual incident'
Former chief secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen has called the June 4, 1989 Tianamen Square crackdown in Beijing an 'individual incident' and says Hong Kong must look at China's achievements from an overall perspective.
Tang was speaking at Sunday's education forum held by the Professional Teachers' Union (PTU) when a member of the audience asked for his stance on June 4.
In 1989, students began a mass protest calling for a more open and accountable government; it ended with soldiers opening fire.
The government maintains the death toll was about 200; witnesses say it was much higher. No official figure is available on the number of arrests. Some parents still do not know what became of their children.
Every year since, Hongkongers have held candle-light vigils and demonstrations demanding the truth be told and that the event be included in school history books.
Yet government officials and chief executive hopefuls have always stayed silent. Since 1999, a non-binding motion at the annual Legislative Council debate, calling for Hong Kong people not to forget the episode and vindication for the dead, has been voted down.
PTU chairman Cheung Man-kwong says: 'Tang's stance might please the Chinese government, but not Hong Kong's people, who want their leader to have a clear view.'
Two other candidates for the next chief executive have also come under fire for their comments on June 4. Former Executive Council convenor Leung Chun-ying called the event a tragedy for Chinese people, but said Deng Xiaoping, the late paramount leader who ordered troops to open fire, should win the Nobel Peace Prize.
Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai, a member of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, said the event was 'unfortunate', but was unsure what really happened.
Ding Zilin, founder of Tiananmen Mothers, whose son died in the tragedy, has demanded a public apology from Fan and challenged her to an open discussion.