Tang signs up with tycoon boost
Peter So, Tanna Chong, Colleen Lee and Gary Cheung
Casting aside any calls to stand down, scandal-plagued chief executive hopeful Henry Tang Ying-yen formally signed up for the race for the top job yesterday.
He had the backing of 379 nominations from the 1,200-strong Election Committee.
Nominators include the city's major tycoons, such as Cheung Kong Holding's Li Ka-shing and Victor Li Tzar-kuoi, Sun Hung Kai Properties' Raymond Kwok Ping-luen and Thomas Kwok Ping-kwong, Henderson Land's Lee Shau-kee, New World Development's Henry Cheng Kar-shun, and Lau Wong-fat, head of the powerful rural affairs body the Heung Yee Kuk.
Presenting a five-minute manifesto yesterday, Tang vowed he would regain the confidence and trust of Hongkongers after being caught up in the latest scandal over illegal structures at a home owned by his wife and an earlier confession of 'straying' in his love life.
'I will devote a hundred times of efforts and I will not give up,' he said.
'I admitted that I did not handle [the scandals] well. I intended to protect my family, but it hurt them even more. It's my fault and I will take the full responsibility.'
Tang, who did not respond to media questions yesterday, was the second candidate to register his candidacy after pan-democratic contender Albert Ho Chun-yan secured 183 nominations last week. New People's Party chairwoman and former security minister Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee also announced a bid last night - although she admitted she was not positive about securing 'three-digit' nominations.
Some of Tang's staunchest allies have publicly questioned his ability to lead the city following the latest setback reflected in a survey - specially commissioned by the South China Morning Post - that found nearly 80 per cent of Hongkongers doubted his integrity and more than half thought he should quit the race.
The pro-Beijing Federation of Trade Unions president Cheng Yiu-tong called on Tang to consider the hurdles he would face even if he did win the top job, as he had yet to offer a persuasive explanation for the illegal-structure scandal. The FTU holds 60 seats on the Election Committee and its members were given a free choice on their nomination.
James Tien Pei-chun, honorary chairman of the Liberal Party, which submitted 62 nominations for Tang with its allies, said: 'If Tang's popularity remains too low in March, we will not vote for him. Even if he is elected, it will not be favourable for him and Hong Kong.' He said Tang would face difficulties forming an effective governing team given his low popularity. Tien said Legislative Council president Tsang Yok-sing, who on Friday signalled he might run, could be an alternative choice as he would be capable of reconciling the rifts within the pro-establishment and pan-democratic camps.
Tsang said yesterday he would make a decision early next week and had begun assessing the possibility of seeking the threshold of 150 nominations required. He stressed that he had not obtained any endorsement from the central government. Tang's arch rival, Leung Chun-ying, collected more than 200 nominations, said people close to his campaign. They said Leung was considering filing his nomination by the end of this week or early next week.
More than this many nominations have been collected by Leung Chun-ying, say people close to his campaign