Be ‘responsible’, CY Leung says in veiled attack on potential chief executive race rivals John Tsang and Regina Ip

Comments from city’s top official come amid new reports indicating both cabinet members’ interest in No 1 job

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 October, 2016, 2:50pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 December, 2016, 9:44am

Adopting a combative tone, Hong Kong’s top official Leung Chun-ying launched a veiled attack on two of his cabinet members on Thursday, suggesting they should be “responsible” rather than be mulling over joining the city’s leadership race next March.

The chief executive also questioned if a new leader for Hong Kong meant localists would stop pushing for the city’s independence from China, or whether the new government would be as “daring” as his administration when it came to tackling housing and land shortage issues.

Leung was speaking amid reports suggesting that Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah had written to Beijing expressing his interest in contesting the chief executive poll on March 26. Tsang’s office declined to comment on the reports.

New People’s Party chairwoman Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, an executive councillor, or member of Leung’s cabinet, also confirmed for the first time her interest in the top post on Thursday morning.

Woo Kwok-hing, a high-profile retired judge, is set to become the first person to formally declare his intention to run for the office of chief executive on Thursday afternoon.

After attending a religious event in Sheung Wan, Leung was asked to comment on Woo’s decision to run. But the chief executive sidestepped the question and talked about his own cabinet instead, saying:: “This is now the time of the year for the entire government and myself to prepare for the policy address and for the financial secretary’s budget [in February], which will be supporting the important policies to be announced in the policy speech in January.”

“I hope that every [one] of my colleagues in the cabinet can be focused and dedicated in working for society. This is the government’s job, as well as my expectation for all my colleagues in the administration,” he said.

Leung also urged Hongkongers to consider a series of questions facing the government in its next term.

“Regardless of whether there will be a new leader, the new government will take office on July 1 next year ... Will the international situation facing the city become less complicated because of a new leader or term?”

“Will those pushing for the city’s independence stop what they are doing? Will those insulting their own country shut up?” he asked, in a reference to two Youngspiration lawmakers who triggered a political storm by using insulting language towards China during their swearing-in on October 12.

Leung continued: “Will the land and housing problems that have accumulated in Hong Kong become easier to solve under a new leader or government? Will the cabinet continue to touch on vested interests in the property market with courage and determination, and amid difficulties, to solve the city’s housing problems?”

Referring to a medical reform bill which was derailed during the legislature’s previous term, the chief executive also questioned if the Legislative Council would continue to face filibusters under a new leader.

“These questions should be thought [about] in the coming months,” Leung added.

Asked if any official should resign to run for the chief executive post, he said: “I think this is a matter of responsibility. We are responsible for society, and for me, my most crucial task right now is to be focused and dedicated on the next policy address and the budget.”

Leung has yet to announce a re-election bid.