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  • Dec 18, 2014
  • Updated: 10:09am

John Tsang Chun-Wah

John Tsang Chun-wah has served as Hong Kong’s financial secretary since appointed to the position by former chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen in 2007. He was secretary for commerce, industry and technology between 2003 and 2006. He chaired the World Trade Organisation Ministerial Conference in Hong Kong in December 2005.

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Financial Secretary John Tsang calls for compromise on electoral reform

Financial secretary says city's economic future will be damaged unless compromises are made on 2016 Legco and 2017 chief executive elections

PUBLISHED : Monday, 05 May, 2014, 5:01am
UPDATED : Monday, 05 May, 2014, 8:45am

Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah has urged lawmakers to agree on a compromise over the terms for electoral reform or risk damaging the city's economic future.

In a rare foray beyond his finance portfolio, Tsang said achieving universal suffrage by 2017 was vital to Hong Kong's political stability. International firms have also cited stability as key to doing business here.

"I always believe the relatively extreme opinions … are only … bargaining tactics in the reform's negotiation, where different parties would still be willing to make reasonable compromises eventually for the sake of Hong Kong's democratic progress," Tsang wrote on his blog yesterday.

But he said doubts were growing that extreme positions were not being used as starting points for bargaining.

"They have instead already determined to stand firm or even been prepared to spoil [reform efforts]," Tsang wrote.

Tsang's comments echoed constitutional expert and Basic Law Committee member Johnny Mok Shiu-luen SC, who wrote in the South China Morning Post that Beijing would likely back any compromise reached between pan-democrats and pro-Beijing groups to agree a formula acceptable to all sides for the 2017 chief executive elections.

Reforms to determine how the 2016 Legislative Council and 2017 chief executive polls would take place must be approved by a two-thirds majority in Legco, implying the government must secure the support of at least five pan-democrats in addition to all pro-Beijing legislators.

A key sticking point is over a pan-democrat demand to allow public nominations for chief executive hopefuls, which Beijing loyalists say is unconstitutional.

Tsang criticised democracy campaigners for not focusing on substantive issues of reform.

Emily Lau Wai-hing, Democratic Party chairwoman, told the Post it was the government's responsibility to do better on political reform and that the stalemate had harmed the city's economy.

Hong Kong remains a vital gateway for money and business in and out of the mainland and Beijing relies heavily on the city's financial markets as the main medium through which state-backed and private sector firms raise money from international equity and bond investors.

More goods pass in and out of China through Hong Kong's ports as a proportion of the total than any other gateway, with two-way trade between the city and the mainland valued at US$401 billion last year, according to China Customs Administration Data.

Analysts say Beijing requires stability in Hong Kong during the mainland's long-delayed programme of economic reform.


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Must be a really slow news day for the SCMP and the tv news to be citing John Tsang's blog! Are his views worth 1cent to anybody except himself?
Dai Muff
So, what's the government's compromise? Simple question. What's the answer?
Anfd "Beijing loyalists" say whatever Beijing tells them to say, so you might as well cut out the middle man and write "Beijing".
As long as our top officials speak from the heart it doesnt really matter what position he/she is currently holding. However, TSANG and his fellow bureaucrats need to understand that while the pan-democrats are seemingly uncompromising the same can be said for pro-Beijing allies. Citing one side as being extremist whilst not realising that the other side is unwilling to concede that little bit is hardly fair is it?
Who on earth would pay any heed to this man ? He can't even get his budgets right - always wide of the mark. He also shows no concern for the ordinary people in HK. He just looms after his crony tycoons and businessmen. One of those typical civil servants just passing the time until he can retire and start to draw his giant non MPF pension.
John Adams
As regards John Tsang's blog, the key question is not : " What does Mr Tsang think? ", but rather "Can Mr Tsang think ? "
Based on his recent budgets and appalling management of our SAR finances it's pretty clear that Mr Tsang can NOT think
This guy can barely (actually he can't) do his job properly with the finance and budgets of HK so perhaps he should not even comment on anything outside of his job mandate..........Does he even think that his words have any influence at all in the local community?
Yet another unprincipled comment from a government talking head. It takes 2 to compromise...and the BJ types haven't exactly done a bang up job either.
And as a government member, what does the government have to say? Do they have no ideas of their own? Was a 5 month period of public consultation not a good time to discuss government proposals as well as pan-dem ones? Or should we simply conclude that, since groups like DAB and FTU are playing on the same team with the same puppet master as the government, those groups have essentially spoken on the government's behalf?
One extreme is asking for genuine democracy and the other is saying to allow only hand-picked candidates who follow the interests of the ruling elites. Not a lot of room for compromise here.
The area where there might be a reasonable chance for compromise is in the composition of the nominating committee but the differences in the two extreme positions is not likely to disappear here either. If genuine democracy is off the table as being too extreme, just what part of and how much or little fake democracy is suggested as being acceptable?
HK is never ever going to get true democracy....EVER! can everyone get it into their heads. As long as China is communist, HK will never be democratic.
There is no need to clamour for it, as the city's elite, the rich and powerful, all have exit passports. So why would they want democracy? Its the lack of democracy that has made LKS and donald tsang and the like successful.
If hk wants democracy, the communist party has to collapse first.
so can we stop wasting so much time on all this wasteful "democracy" stuff, and get back and focus on what we in HK do best, enriching ourselves.
To use an analogy, HK will never be the legal wife. HK will always be the prostitute everyone uses to satisfy themselves, bec the pimp in Beijing will never allow it to have any legitimacy.
Whoever holds the purse string holds power. That is the very old way practice.
Modern political and corporate has long dispensed a financial person steps into the area of a president’s responsibility. John Tsang’s wrote to urge lawmakers to agree on a compromise over the terms for electoral reform is greatly out of his bound as a Financial Secretary -- even if he was instructed to do so by the Chief Executive.
It is simplistic to use economic incentive to achieve political ends at least not by our undependable Financial Secretary. I hope his blog is just his own personal sentiment.


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