John Tsang welcomes leadership contest against Carrie Lam

Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah said in a Facebook Live session that he expected Beijing to handle his resignation and potential candidacy ‘fairly’

PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 January, 2017, 11:08pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 14 January, 2017, 9:24am

Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah has welcomed the prospect of running against his colleague Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor for the city’s top job and he expressed confidence that Beijing will handle his candidacy “fairly”.

A day after Lam resigned as chief secretary and announced her plan to run, Tsang spoke about his bid unequivocally for the first time, admitting that he was still waiting for Beijing to approve his resignation tendered just over a month ago.

He visited, a start-up online news portal, for an ­interview on Facebook Live.

Tsang was asked would he mind if his resignation was rejected. “I very much believe the central government will deal with the matter fairly,” he said.

“Hong Kong people always like fair competition,” he said when asked about Lam’s resignation. “This is a good thing.”

In Hong Kong’s chief executive race, potential backers wait for Beijing’s nod

In a reference to Lam’s reported remark at a closed-door meeting on Thursday that God had called on her to run, the interviewer asked Tsang if he had looked up to the heavens.

“I didn’t ask. But there are stories in the Bible that those who are chosen by God usually have a difficult path ahead,” he said.

Was he ready to walk the path? “I have walked the path for decades and I will go on,” he said.

Tsang’s remarks were his clearest yet on his bid for the top job. The financial secretary had been restrained in his public speeches previously, sticking to the law that public officials are not allowed to contest the election until they have formally resigned.

During the past month while awaiting approval of his resignation, Tsang maintained his public profile by posting photos on Facebook of his visits to the communities in Sham Shui Po, Sai Kung, a university and various schools.

In contrast, Lam – seen in some quarters as Beijing’s preferred candidate – made it clear on Thursday that the only reason she was announcing her resignation was to prepare for a contest.

Lam on Friday visited an elderly man whom she had known since 2003, according to photos posted by Tik Chi-yuen, a member of political group Third Side, who accompanied her.

The Post earlier reported Beijing would approve both resignations on Thursday but indications are that the approval for Lam’s could come sooner. Both are expected to hold a brief press conference to set out their vision for the city upon the approval of their resignation. Tsang would introduce his platform on another ­occasion. Lam is due to stage a rally on February 3.

It is understood that Lam is preparing her campaign office in the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre and she will move from her official residence on Barker Road to the adjacent Convention Plaza Apartments.

Meanwhile, another chief executive candidate, Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, had a meeting with her Legislative Council colleagues from the Beijing-loyalist Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong ­on Friday.

The DAB holds more than 100 seats on the 1,194-member Election Committee which will select the city’s next leader on March 26.

DAB chairwoman Starry Lee Wai-king said some of Ip’s ideas were similar to the DAB’s, but it was too early to say who her party’s members would endorse.

Ip said: “We mainly discussed my manifesto and platform, and I told them my views about the political accountability system.” She declined to comment on Lam’s decision to contest the race.

Alan Leong Kah-kit, Civic Party chairman and also an election committee member, said on

a ­radio show he would opt

for Tsang if he had to decide between him and Lam as he was “less high-handed”, even though he did not have high expectations of Tsang.

He said the democratic camp had to ­respond to society’s desire for peace and calm after a politically taxing period.