Former Hong Kong financial chief donated HK$100,000 to pan-democrat’s election campaign

Antony Leung says he gave the money to veteran Democrat James To to support more rational politics in the city

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 November, 2016, 9:09pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 November, 2016, 10:50pm

Former financial secretary Antony Leung Kam-chung, who is seen as a possible chief executive contender, donated HK$100,000 to a veteran pan-democrat’s Legislative Council election campaign in September.

Leung said he gave the money to Democratic Party lawmaker James To Kun-sun because he hoped to support more rational and constructive politicians in the opposition camp “to make Hong Kong a better place”, although he did not share many of To’s political ideas.

He said it was not the first time he had donated money to “non-establishment politicians”.

Leung’s donation sparked speculation in some quarters that it was an indication of his interest in running for the top job in March, but Chinese University political scientist Ivan Choy Chi-keung said it was not unusual for businessmen to sponsor the election campaigns of pan-democratic candidates.

To listed the sum in his declaration of election donations submitted to the Legislative Council secretariat. Allan Zeman, chairman of the Lan Kwai Fong Group, donated HK$25,000 to To, who was returned in one of the district council functional constituency “super seats” voted on by 3.47 million voters citywide.

Leung has been tipped as a dark horse in the chief executive race, although he has said he had no intention of running. Last month he appeared to back Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah in the contest, saying he had the qualities needed to “unite Hong Kong”.

Leung, chairman of developer Nan Fung Group, told the Post that he made the donation at To’s request.

Hong Kong’s rival camps should stop squabbling and create harmony, says former financial secretary Antony Leung

“I have known him for many years. While I do not share many of his political ideas, I was hoping to support the more rationale and constructive non-establishment politicians to make Hong Kong a better place,” Leung said.

“But I must say I disagree with James’ reaction to the inappropriate swearing-ins at the Legislative Council.”

To said Legco president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen should allow pro-independence lawmakers Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching – who used derogatory language to insult China at the swearing-in ceremony on October 12 – to retake their oaths.

Beijing stepped in on Monday and imposed a measure that effectively disqualifies the pair.

Leung did not comment on whether his donation had anything to do with his possible bid for chief executive election.

To said he simply sent a WhatsApp message to every contact on his mobile phone this summer to request donations. “Leung replied and said that he would like to donate HK$100,000.”

He said this was not a surprise because Leung had attended the Democratic Party’s annual fundraising dinner in the past.

“I think it was because he agreed that we are a party that can achieve things for residents,” he said, adding that Leung’s donation was unconditional.

Ivan Choy said: “There were lots of such donations in the past. Chow Chung-kong also donated to the Civic Party’s Tanya Chan. HK$100,000 isn’t a lot of money in the political arena.”

Chow is now a member of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s executive council.

Meanwhile, localist lawmaker Lau Siu-lai declared on Tuesday that political commentator and radio host Albert Cheng King-hon had offered her HK$170,988 in sponsorship for services such as advertisements, publicity and equipment.

“It was unconditional ... and he sponsored candidates in all five geographical constituencies,” Lau said.