CHIEF EXECUTIVE RACE

Hong Kong top job candidates wish city ‘unity’ and ‘prosperity’ Lunar New Year

Four chief executive contenders put Chinese calligraphy skills to test

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 28 January, 2017, 10:46am
UPDATED : Saturday, 28 January, 2017, 12:56pm

In a Lunar New Year break from campaigning, Hong Kong’s four chief executive contenders agreed to spread peace and harmony to welcome the Year of the Rooster.

Invited by the Post, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, John Tsang Chun-wah, and Woo Kwok-hing put their Chinese calligraphy skills to the test and wrote fai chun to share their new year wishes with Post readers.

Watch: Hong Kong top job candidates’ Lunar New Year greetings

Fai chun, sometimes called lucky paper, are traditional calligraphy scrolls written and posted for good luck. Typically they are hung on doors and around the home to celebrate a lunar new year.

How well the four did in the art of elegant handwriting is a matter of opinion.

Hong Kong chief executive Leung Chun-ying urges locals to preserve Lunar New Year traditions

For Tsang, using the brush pen was a bit of struggle. The 65-year-old former financial secretary said the last time he picked up a brush pen to write calligraphy was about 50 years ago during his secondary school days.

For his fai chun, he wrote: “Keep on good terms with everyone.”

He said he wanted the city in the new year “to rebuild trust, re-establish unity, and rekindle hope in our society” before offering a greeting of “kung hei fat choi”.

Lam’s fai chun read: “Be wreathed with smiles”. While she wished Hongkongers joy, fun, and relaxing times, the former chief secretary was very much in campaign mode.

“This year, I have no plan [for the holiday] except to work very diligently with my election campaign,” she said.

Looking back at how she spent past lunar new year holidays when she was the city’s No 2 official, she recalled her diary was filled with celebrations with rural villagers and visits to control points to meet civil servants.

Hong Kong’s largest Lunar New Year Fair crowded, despite fears of unrest

However busy she was, she said, she would squeeze time to call on Uncle Fook, now 97 years old, whom she had known during her tenure as social welfare director in the early 2000s.

She paid a visit to Uncle Fook earlier this month, she said.

Then and now: Lunar New Year in Hong Kong

When Woo arrived for the calligraphy session, it was clear he came well-prepared, taking out his own brush and asking for the scrolls to be firmly fixed to the table as he set upon the paper.

“May the golden phoenix bring good fortune, and only with peace for the people the country can be prosperous,” his eight characters read, cleverly playing on his name Kwok-hing, which means “prosperous nation” in Chinese.

“The phoenix is the protagonist of all fowls,” the retired judge explained. “A golden phoenix will bring good luck and fortune.”

Asked what would make this year different, Woo, 71, said without hesitation there would be much less time to spend with his family.

Why it’s bloom and bust for Hong Kong’s Lunar New Year flower markets

“I mostly travel [out of Hong Kong] for a few days during lunar new year,” he added.

“But there is a lot of campaign work to do now. I have to meet people and listen to their views.”

Meanwhile, Ip wrote: “May all your hopes come true” for her fai chun. “It’s my wish every year that everyone will get what they want,” she said.

Widely regarded as an underdog in the chief executive race, Ip said she would spend the holidays with her family.

Ip shared that her “most unforgettable” lunar new year holiday was in 2009. That year she went to Beijing “with a fellow Chinese opera buff and watched six Beijing operas in three days.”

Soothsayer offers words of warning for Hong Kong leadership rivals in Year of the Rooster

She did not name the friend. But a search of old newspaper clippings revealed that among those joining her in Beijing that year was retired postmaster general Tam Wing-pong.

Tam is a keen concert and opera goer and now sits on the executive committee of Ip’s New People’s Party.