Tung Chee-hwa in tribute to Leung's maritime work
In a subtle nod to chief executive candidate Leung Chun-ying, former Hong Kong chief executive Tung Chee-hwa praised a maritime law programme that Leung helped to set up at City University while he was its council chairman.
Tung never mentioned Leung by name, but his statement during a meeting at the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference in Beijing is being viewed as significant.
It is the first time that Tung has publicly expressed support, even indirectly, for Leung, though he is widely viewed as a strong supporter of the former convenor of the Executive Council.
'If I did not get it wrong, there is a maritime law programme at the City University [which teaches] on arbitration, insurance ... it is a successful programme,' said Tung (pictured) during a CPPCC meeting.
'As Hong Kong excels in financing, and the shipping business in Hong Kong involves a lot of financing and management, it incurs a lot of legal issues. It touches on maritime law.'
Tung, who is also a CPPCC vice-chairman, said City University's programme, which was advocated by Leung during his tenure as the university's council chairman, was conducive to strengthening Hong Kong's maritime status.
Leung's election platform highlights the importance of maritime law education in Hong Kong, to build the city as a major training ground for shipping talent.
Meanwhile, a Hong Kong CPPCC delegate said Tung praised Leung before CPPCC chairman Jia Qinglin at a dinner on January 1.
Nine Hong Kong delegates, including Tung and several members of the CPPCC Standing Committee, joined the dinner hosted by Jia.
'Tung told Jia that Leung was a professional, competent person,' said the CPPCC delegate, who did not want to be named.
'It is a long-standing practice within the Chinese officialdom that a predecessor's comments are valued highly when a government post is up for grabs. Tung's good words for Leung did him a big favour,' the delegate said.
Sources in Henry Tang Ying-yen's camp said earlier that Tung had canvassed votes for Leung. Continuing his attacks on Leung, in an interview with TVB yesterday, Tang alleged his arch-rival had close links with property developers.
This is a charge Tang has faced, as he was nominated by property tycoons to run in the race.
Joseph Yam Chi-kwong, former chief executive of the Monetary Authority, stood by Tang and insisted that the scandal-plagued candidate had learned from his mistakes.
'I support a person who knows his mistakes and corrects them,' he told Commercial Radio. 'I support a person who has experienced a harsh political baptism.'