John Tsang tells Hongkongers to ‘never say die’ on his blog but stays quiet on leadership challenge

Financial chief’s uplifting message follows political bombshell that he might challenge Leung Chun-ying for the top job next year

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 31 July, 2016, 3:07pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 31 July, 2016, 11:23pm

Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah steered clear of any further discussion about his challenge for the city’s top job on his blog on Sunday, instead urging Hongkongers not to give up on the city.

The financial chief dropped a political bombshell on Friday by declaring for the first time he might challenge his boss Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying for the city’s top job next year.

But in his weekly blog, Tsang made no mention of the challenge, and instead quoted a slogan from his alma mater La Salle College in urging Hongkongers to “never say die” even if they are dismayed by the city’s current situation or face a dilemma in which they see no way out.

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“Don’t say ‘die’ to yourself,” he wrote. “Don’t say ‘die’ to Hong Kong.”

He added he debated with his team whether he should use the phrase “never give up,” an expression he said could be “lost in translation”.

Tsang said his comments on the city’s economic situation in late June had been misquoted.

Mainland media quoted Tsang at the time as saying he considered the mainland to be “experiencing its worst time in 20 years” when he was asked by a forum moderator to respond to comments that Hong Kong was experiencing its worst time in 20 years.

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Tsang clarified that the global economy had not fully recovered from the financial crisis of 2008 and that Hong Kong, as an export-oriented economy, would also be affected.

However, the potential chief executive candidate said he had always thought the mainland economy was in good shape and that Beijing had adequate policy tools to tackle challenges.

In a Commercial Radio interview on Friday, Tsang said for the first time that he was “willing to take up the job as chief executive” if pursuing it could help contribute to society.

According to a Chinese University poll released on Thursday, Tsang’s popularity rating stood at 61.7 points out of 100, while Leung’s stood at 40.1 points.