Hong Kong business sector backs John Tsang to lead city, senior Liberal Party official claims

While boosting financial secretary, James Tien Pei-chun criticises chief executive Leung Chun-ying

PUBLISHED : Monday, 31 October, 2016, 1:28pm
UPDATED : Monday, 31 October, 2016, 1:28pm

Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah has the backing of Hong Kong’s business sector if he runs for the city’s top post, a top Liberal Party leader said, declaring the city needs a leader supported by the public.

Liberal Party honorary chairman James Tien Pei-chun, a staunch advocate of the “Anyone but CY” drive, said on Monday the city had become divided under Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.

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“Of the people in the business sector that I know, most of them support (Tsang),” Tien said on a Commercial Radio programme on Monday. “The business sector feels CY’s policies have neither helped nor harmed them. But the problem is he has turned society into one that is not harmonious.”

Tien said Leung has had some commendable policies, such as his move to stop expectant mothers from the mainland from gatecrashing Hong Kong hospitals’ maternity wards to secure permanent residency in the city. But no matter how much the public has benefited from those policies, he said, the chief executive has damaged the city’s harmony.

The problem is he has turned society into one that is not harmonious
James Tien Pei-chun, on CY Leung

Leung has already lost many loyal supporters four years since becoming the city’s leader, Tien added.

The veteran politician made clear he would back Tsang for the top post, pointing to the finance chief’s high popularity. A University of Hong Kong poll conducted in early October found 64.5 per cent of the public supported Tsang’s job performance, compared to 56.1 per cent for Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and 47.8 per cent for Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung.

By contrast, only 36.6 per cent of the respondents supported the chief executive’s performance.

But Tien, who backed former chief secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen in his bid to run for chief executive in 2012, cautioned that a person’s popularity could plummet quickly, alluding to a scandal in which unauthorised structures were found at Tang’s home. The episode dealt a fatal blow to Tang’s bid.

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The Liberal Party heavyweight also said Tsang should resign from his role as the city’s financial chief and formally declare his run for chief executive. He believed Tsang had already submitted a letter to Beijing, as reports earlier suggested, to declare that he was ready to run for Hong Kong’s top office.

Asked how he would help Tsang, Tien said he had not thought that far and that he was already giving the financial secretary a boost by discussing his support on the programme.

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Meanwhile, Tien was dismissive of the chief executive bid announced last week by retired judge Woo Kwok-hing. He said Woo was wrong in believing Hongkongers would hold more sway over his decisions as the city’s leader than Beijing.

“Under ‘one country, two systems’, the chief executive has two bosses. Which boss is more important?” Tien asked. “Hongkongers or Beijing? Both should be equally important.”

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“It is not feasible for him to believe that Hongkongers are his more important bosses,” he added.

Tien’s remarks came as Tsang remained tight-lipped over whether he would run.

On Saturday, speaking before the opening of a show on Shakespeare’s life, Tsang paraphrased Hamlet’s famous “to be or not to be” line, saying: “I was supposed to cite a famous Shakespearean quote, but I know what you want to hear is another version: to run, or not to run, that is the question.”