Hong Kong convention centre expansion needs to be studied carefully, says chief executive hopeful John Tsang

In video message, Tsang recalls childhood memories from old running track, which will be demolished to make way for development

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 01 February, 2017, 2:59pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 01 February, 2017, 4:40pm

Chief executive hopeful John Tsang Chun-wah said the government should look very carefully at the controversial extension of the Convention and Exhibition Centre – that includes demolishing Wan Chai Sports Ground, the home of local athletics – because many people were attached to the doomed athletics track.

But he did not openly say the development should be reversed.

Demolishing Wan Chai Sports Ground will devastate athletics, says HKAAA chief

The former financial secretary covered many areas in a short video uploaded to his Facebook page on Wednesday morning.

In it, Tsang talked about the development plan, which the current chief executive, Leung Chun-ying, confirmed in his policy address. Tsang said losing the running track would harm the nurturing of local athletes, especially runners.

“Many La Salle College old boys competed there, and cheered unreservedly during the races at the stadium, so I understand there were a lot of fond memories,” said Tsang, who attended the school in Kowloon Tong.

“I understand the sentiments that the public holds towards the sports ground, and that people have long been concerned about the expansion.”

But he said the traffic around the exhibition centre had reached an “intolerable” volume, stressing that the development plan should be studied very carefully.

He also said the city’s next leader would struggle to implement policy without public trust, and stressed the importance of a leader being inclusive and accepting different opinions.

“The leader should put aside personal prejudice,” Tsang said, talking about working with people of different political persuasions.

“Regardless of a person’s political views, as long as there is talent, I would consider [using them].”

Tsang is among a field of four people openly hoping to compete in the chief executive election. Former chief secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, legislator Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee and retired judge Woo Kwok-hing are also running.

Nominations open on February 14, and each hopeful will need 150 votes from the 1,194-strong Election Committee to enter the race. The committee will also pick an eventual winner.

Insisting he is undaunted by the race, Tsang cited a line from the Cantonese boxing film Unbeatable, saying: “Once you step into the boxing ring, there is no point feeling scared. Otherwise, you will be a loser for your whole life.”

Watch: John Tsang’s full video message (in Cantonese)

Tsang said: “One might feel nervous before stepping into the ring, but one would not feel scared once in the game. I have been inside boxing rings before, and this is how I felt too.”

Tsang also admitted that the relationship between Hongkongers and the police had grown tense in the past few years. He said the government has a duty to prevent such an atmosphere and avoid putting both sides at odds with each other.