CY Leung opens up about daughter’s health, hits back at John Tsang’s comments

Chief executive reveals he spent an hour by his daughter’s bedside every night in the past two months while she was in hospital

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 21 January, 2017, 12:53pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 21 January, 2017, 11:30pm

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has for the first time elaborated on the “family reason” behind his decision not to seek a second term in office, revealing he spent an hour in hospital every night with his sick daughter over the past two months.

Leung also took a swipe at chief executive hopeful John Tsang Chun-wah, who said that Hong Kong needed “respite”.

More than a month after Leung’s surprise announcement that he would not seek re-election to spare his family “unbearable pressure”, he spoke of his elder daughter Chai-yan’s situation on a radio show Saturday morning.

Unbearable pain suffered by CY Leung’s family laid bare

“After I made the announcement, I knew that I could now have more time for my family, and I felt relieved. My family supports my decision,” he said.

He also added that Chai-yan was discharged after receiving treatment in hospital for two months, but did not say what illness she was suffering from.

“I went to see her every night, except when I had a trip,” he said. “I spent an hour there until she fell asleep, and then I went back to Government House.”

He recalled a few instances where he left halfway through an activity or a fundraising event, in full formal attire, to see his daughter, without telling guests where he was going. “I found it very hard to handle both [work and family].”

Chai-yan, the second of three children in the Leung family, is understood to have been a patient at Prince of Wales Hospital in Sha Tin for at least a month.

Her health first became a matter of speculation when she posted a wrist-slashing picture on Facebook in mid-2014 with the caption: “Will I bleed to death?”

Hong Kong chief executive’s troubled daughter leaves hospital, flies to London

Political insiders have been debating if Chai-yan’s condition was the reason behind Leung’s decision to bow out.

Sceptics noted that his campaign office was still active up till his announcement on December 9, and he was also conducting neighbourhood visits in an apparent attempt to boost his low popularity. The pro-establishment camp received no advance signal of Leung’s decision.

On Saturday’s radio programme, Leung commented on the word “respite” ­– now part of a catchphrase for Tsang’s election campaign – after the latter said in his declaration speech that Hong Kong needed respite to recover from the political turmoil of recent years.

“When you are in respite and doing nothing, your competitors are not,” he said. “The consequence? You can imagine.”

Leung stressed that the city was facing greater economic competition in the region from globalisation, and the government’s role in developing the economy should differ from the past.

Leung’s dig at Tsang’s call echoed one made by another chief executive hopeful: former chief secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor. On Friday, Lam said during a visit to Aberdeen that “if someone wants respite, then political reform must be handled with caution”.

Tsang had mentioned the possibility of political reform using Beijing’s 2014 blueprint for universal suffrage as a basis.

Tsang later posted on Facebook that by respite, he meant to “stop internal conflicts”.