Legco chairman Jasper Tsang picks retirement over top job in 2017
Legislative Council head Jasper Tsang Yok-sing says he will not seek another term as lawmaker or run for chief executive as he has "earned the right to retire".
Freedom from political baggage allowed him to be more relaxed in commenting on such issues as the 2017 chief executive election - even in terms that might upset the central government - the veteran pro-Beijing politician said yesterday.
"Why would I say things that the central government would not like if I really wanted to run for chief executive?" he asked at a Chinese University forum.
Tsang was referring to his speech last month in which he angered the pro-Beijing media by suggesting a pan-democrat was acceptable to head the city.
The founder of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong - which has since added Progress to its title - said recent speculation that he would run for the top job in 2017 had "underestimated [his] wisdom".
"I never thought about getting the job in my whole life, except for a week last year when I seriously considered it on the suggestion of friends," he said.
"I would rather let people continue to imagine that I might do a great job if I was elected as chief executive … rather than really doing it and [doing] a bad job. I know where my limit is."
Tsang's September speech at a media gathering displayed a liberal stance rarely seen in the pro-Beijing camp. Yesterday, he explained why he said what he did during the speech.
"I have no intention [to seek re-election], so I do not have the baggage. I do not need to think that what I say now might affect my votes, so I am more relaxed and free from reservations."
He said he would be 69 years old by the time the next Legco election came around in 2016, and that he had been involved in politics for more than two decades now. "I think I've earned the right to retire," he said.
During the forum, "A Patriot's View on Democracy", Tsang said lawmakers from both the pro-government and pan-democratic camps had good intentions in serving the country, but were divided by a lack of mutual trust and understanding.
He said he hoped he could liaise with the two camps and set up dialogues between them in his remaining years as Legco chairman.
"They should not see each other as strangers or enemies … They should start understanding each other," he said.
He said he hoped there would be a meeting between Zhang Xiaoming , the director of Beijing's liaison office in Hong Kong, and lawmakers by the end of next year, as he had heard Zhang was seeking to meet lawmakers from various parties through different channels.