Public Eye

Were John Tsang and Jasper Tsang’s potential leadership bids coincidence or coordination?

The odds of the two Tsangs reversing course at the same time on something so crucial must be a hundred to one, argues Michael Chugani

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 02 August, 2016, 6:20pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 02 August, 2016, 6:20pm

Something doesn’t add up. All political heavyweights have long fudged when asked if they would run for chief executive next March. Then presto, within hours of each other, two said they might run against Leung Chun-ying. What made Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah and retiring Legislative Council President Jasper Tsang Yok-sing suddenly backtrack after having denied they were candidates waiting in the wings? Coincidence or coordination? The odds of the two Tsangs reversing course at the same time on something so crucial must be a hundred to one.

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The Legco boss cited their pre-recorded media interviews as proof there was no coordination. But logic dictates otherwise. Their well thought-out words showed both had prepared to use the interviews to muddy the political waters with their possible candidacies.

But why do it barely a month before the most unpredictable Legco elections ever? Politically-savvy pundits had expected candidates to reveal their intentions after the Legco elections or even after the year-end election of the 1,200 committee members who would choose the chief executive. There is a conspiracy theory the pair did it to bail out establishment Legco candidates who had squirmed when asked if they backed Leung’s re-election, and to drown out the ABC – “anyone but CY” – slogan of democracy camp Legco candidates. Jasper Tsang may have reason to help his loyalist party but why would John Tsang indirectly aid Leung unless ordered to by Beijing? Both are known to despise Leung.

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What’s jaw-dropping is that the Legco boss confessed he would make a lousy leader but wanted a competitive election. The financial secretary said he would run if it was for the good of Hong Kong. Who decides if he is good for Hong Kong? The election committee heeding public opinion can decide only if he runs. The only other decider is Beijing if it wants to replace Leung. Independence advocates and localists prefer John Tsang who has branded himself as the localist-in-chief. But these are the people Beijing wants to shut out of Legco. Their support is a kiss of death for Tsang. With Beijing determined to crush the independence movement, whoever becomes the next leader must resurrect Article 23 national security laws. Both Tsangs are miles more popular than Leung but for how long when it becomes clear they too must march to Beijing’s tune as leader? You can bet ABC will morph into ABJ – anyone but John, or Jasper.