Snub won't hurt vote for top post, says kuk boss
The battle lines have been drawn as chief executive hopefuls Leung Chun-ying and Albert Ho Chun-yan yesterday snubbed the annual spring reception of the Heung Yee Kuk, which is expected to declare support for Henry Tang Ying-yen soon.
Heung Yee Kuk chief Lau Wong-fat said he invited all the contenders to the full-house reception in Sha Tin - held on the seventh day of every Lunar New Year - but only Tang attended. He said Leung phoned to explain his 'no-show' and that it would not affect how the kuk allocated its 28 votes in the 1,200-member Election Committee, which will elect the new chief executive. 'We are choosing talent, not a friend,' Lau said.
But Leung Fuk-yuen, a kuk member and chairman of the Shap Pat Heung rural committee, said attending their reception was a sign of 'sincerity, tolerance and performance'.
When asked if he had liaised votes for Tang, the chairman, a declared Tang supporter, said: 'I liaised for Election Committee voters' support for the candidate who attended today's reception.'
Tang denied showing up to gain support for his bid, but he got an enthusiastic greeting from the kuk Election Committee voters.
One of the most pressing election issues, from the Kuk's point of view, is how the development of village houses will be addressed, and many consider this will influence how it will allocate votes on March 25.
Tang's proposed rural policies are seen as more generous, as they include allowing nine-storey village houses with expanded floor area. He also disagreed with his rival Leung over unauthorised structures on the small houses of male indigenous villagers, referring to them as 'so-called illegal structures'.
The duo continue to raise this topic when they speak in public.
Tang said once Leung and Ho became official candidates, he would invite them to a 'serious debate'. 'In referring to the few previous chief executive elections, I found contenders only have debates when they have become official candidates,' Tang said. 'Therefore I will keep working according to my timetable. And I hope to see a representative, open and fair debate.'
Leung said Tang's unwillingness to engage in a formal debate with him was a 'shortcoming'. He said he had invited Tang to such an encounter.
'I do not want to be involved in a war of words with him through the air,' said Leung, who will have a debate with Ho on a radio show today.