Surprise as Leung drops in on DAB function
The two main chief executive hopefuls continued their election campaigns on New Year's Day, with Leung Chun-ying showing up uninvited at a DAB function in an apparent bid to canvass support from the city's largest political party.
Henry Tang Ying-yen, the former chief secretary, visited two middle-class families in Heng Fa Chuen.
Both men avoided taking sides in the controversy over the central government liaison office's attack on an academic survey, which sparked worries over possible interference in academic freedom.
Leung, former Executive Council convenor, turned up in the morning at the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong's 20th anniversary celebrations in Tamar Park, Admiralty.
He said 'it was unrelated to the [chief executive] election'. The DAB has 147 votes in the 1,200-strong Election Committee in the March 25 race and has not endorsed a candidate.
Leung said he was passing by while driving from Wan Chai to his office in Central and merely wanted to greet the group.
'I saw the DAB's flags, so I stopped my car and came to see what was happening,' he said. 'I will canvass for nominations from Election Committee members one by one and there is certain progress. I am confident. Still, I've to keep up my work.'
DAB chairman Tam Yiu-chung said: 'I didn't expect he would come. But this is a public area. If someone walks past, it will be difficult to ask him to leave ... And he knows our members. I don't know why he came. Perhaps he took the opportunity to meet our DAB members.' Tam said the DAB had yet to decide whether to nominate the same chief executive contender, but stressed both Leung and Tang were suitable candidates.
As to who the party will support, Tam said its central committee would decide at a meeting next month at the latest.
Later, Leung visited a FarmFest of local produce at Fa Hui Park in Mong Kok. Asked if he was trying to win over the 60 Election Committee members of the agriculture and fisheries subsector, he said he would canvass support from various sectors.
Speaking after visiting the families in Heng Fa Chuen, Tang said he too had not been invited to the DAB function and declined to comment on Leung's act. 'Before and when serving in the government, I kept up a good relationship with the DAB.
'I am confident that the DAB will make a decision based on the candidates' platform, visions, track records and prospects,' he said.
Last Thursday, Hao Tiechuan, director of publicity, culture and sports affairs at the central government's liaison office in Hong Kong, described as 'unscientific' and 'illogical' the way questions were posed in a recent University of Hong Kong's Public Opinion Programme survey that found locals identified themselves more strongly as Hongkongers than Chinese citizens.
Asked if he agreed with Hao, Tang said: 'I have long honoured academic freedom and academic autonomy.
'I respect the autonomy of academics who conduct surveys or research on Hong Kong's society, and respect and safeguard everyone's free speech and freedom of expression as well.'
Leung said: 'It is not easy to explain [the identity issue] by means of a simple survey. Such surveys can be done occasionally for reference.'