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  • Dec 18, 2014
  • Updated: 5:56pm
Leung Chun-ying
NewsHong Kong

Apec red faces caused by chief executive's 'lack of experience', says Henry Tang

Henry Tang says embarrassment over Aquino talks was caused by Leung not being schooled in diplomacy and he urges speed on reforms

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 October, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 14 October, 2013, 3:01pm

The embarrassment arising from Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's talks with Philippine President Benigno Aquino at the Bali Apec summit stemmed from his lack of diplomatic experience, his election rival said yesterday.

"I think Leung is a smart person. He will learn a lesson from it and become smarter in future," said former chief secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen. Tang also said time was running out for the consultation on political reform and it was disappointing that "nothing concrete" had been achieved on important issues so far.

During Leung's official talks with Aquino at the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation summit on October 7, Aquino refused to offer an apology for the Manila hostage tragedy in 2010 in which eight Hongkongers were shot dead and seven injured.

In the meeting, the chief executive and two Hong Kong officials sat on one side, while Aquino sat alone at the centre of the room. Academics said this contradicted diplomatic norms, where leaders sit side by side even when both are not state leaders.

"Hong Kong and the Philippines are both members of Apec and they have equal status," Tang said. "The government should have been able to avoid this embarrassment."

Tang, who took part in multilateral trade talks when he was commerce minister and financial secretary, said Hong Kong officials could have reacted instantly after finding problems with the seating arrangement. "Perhaps they could have asked to change seats so the leaders were opposite each other," he said.

The defeated chief executive candidate, who said earlier that consultations on arrangements for the 2017 chief executive election should be launched by this month, said talks should start as soon as possible.

"As everyone is only focusing on putting forward their own ideas, nothing concrete has been achieved so far on the important issues," he told journalists in Shanghai. "As a matter of fact, time has run out."

"The election cannot be conducted smoothly unless thorough public discussions are held beforehand," Tang said. "Support from the pan-democratic groups is also needed.

"We have yet to take an initial step and there are actually five steps in the whole process to amend the electoral methods."

Leung had previously said consultations would start at a "suitable time" without giving an exact timetable.

During his tenure as chief secretary, Tang spearheaded government efforts to reform election methods for the city's top job and the Legco election in 2012.

In March, Tang was elected as a member of the Standing Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. Asked about his plans, he said he would spend more time on his family's businesses.

"I will never ever forget Hong Kong and I am willing to do what I can to help Hong Kong develop further," he said.

He was elected chairman of an education charity fund in Shanghai yesterday, replacing his father.


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Henry knows quite a bit about embarrassment. How can one forget how he muttered that it was his wife who was responsible for the illegal structures in his basement. A shrewder person wouldn't have committed that mistake. Take it like a man Henry. You wont be able to make a comeback even if CY falters and you can only blame yourself for it.
The Hong Kong Government before 1997 had a position called Director of Protocol, usually held by some crusty old expat, who had the sole job of making sure proper diplomatic procedures are followed at all times when dealing with overseas regimes. The post holder was a stickler for detail, ensuring the Governor was never embarrassed when attending diplomatic events. I'm not sure if the position still exists. If yes, then someone failed to do their job.
Having said that, Henry Tang is in no position to point the finger. A good diplomat is first and foremost a gentleman, and gentleman accept responsibility for their actions and don't apportion blame to ladies. Henry, you are a cad.
Why would the CE even know about these kinds of protocols for seating arrangements... These should be the duties of the lower level staff... It just reflects the HK government overall is not as experienced as it should be, and needs to attend more of these kinds of regional and international events...
Henry's not wrong. Hong Kong bureaucrats just think it's all about China and knowing how low to kowtow...HK government needs a true Diplomatic Corps (and the training to go with it).
Given three years without a phone call, I don't think its easy to meet that child in such a short time and options may be going away or meeting in that way. If I were CY, I definitely will clinch the chance. I don't think its wise to go away just because the so call "diplomatic norms".
Agree with PCC, who care about seating arrangement, its better and reasonable to have it properly arranged, but we could be more flexible to get things done, or least try to …
If it is Henry, I am sure he will be very unhappy, losing face you now, the so call norms, sure he will go away and leave the talk to the next government. He should really think what did he do during his tenure, is it a shame to him given the comments of the family of the victims.
Remember Obama shouted at the entry of meeting room and requested to meet our ex-PM Wen, I heard no one here say anything, I only heard the praise that he was pragmatic, brave, having his own character …. (BTW, he should be sent away, or OUT immediately, as he did lack of decency, decency includes not shouting, he should keep quiet … su! …. )
Will Henry just please go away?
Dear Henry Tang.... Pls shut up and move on. Be a sports.
'During his tenure as chief secretary' ...the oaf knowingly used an illegal basement in his own house (I wonder who paid for it ??) - that is misconduct in public office. Why was he still not charged ?
Likewise Edward Yau for failing to do anything about our pollution during his tenure.
These goons should not be allowed to just walk away from their abject highly paid failures.
Facts :
Protocol office : ****www.protocol.gov.hk/eng/consular/
This is important also giving respect to other countries
@dynameco: Henry Tang case was charged. What about others ?
Henry, please come to our rescue immediately...



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