John Tsang looks to seek pan-democrat’s approval ahead of election bid
The chief executive contender needs the backing of pan-dem camp in his coming election bid
Former financial secretary John Tsang Chun-wah, the popular underdog in Hong Kong’s leadership race, has extended an olive branch to sceptical pan-democrats, signalling readiness to renegotiate his platform on the city’s electoral reform.
He also pledged to “prioritise” a review on the policy under which mainland authorities exercised full control over approval of the 150 daily permits for mainlanders to settle in Hong Kong – a source of anti-mainland sentiment in the city – according to Election Committee members who met him on Saturday.
For Tsang, backing from pan-democrats is critical for him to be able to join the chief executive race, as a majority of pro-Beijing votes look set to favour former chief secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor.
“I will continue to talk with pan-democrats regarding my election platform, in particular political reform,” Tsang said, ahead of his meeting with the Democratic Party on Sunday.
He made the vow after pan-democrats appeared hesitant to back him during a meeting with dozens committee members on Saturday.
They cited worry that such a move would be “suicidal” and detrimental to democratic development, due to his lack of a promise to adopt a liberal approach to future democratic development away from a restrictive 2014 framework set by Beijing, according to participants.
“At this stage, quite a number of members are disinclined to offer immediate support for Tsang given what he has said on political reform,” said a participant who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Separately, the former finance chief also met medical sector voters. Doctor Ho Pak-leung, of the medical sector, said Tsang made a pledge to make it a “priority” to review the permit policy for mainlanders coming to the city.
Carrie Lam, meanwhile, met a number of sectors yesterday, including Catholics, surveyors and architects, some of whom are in the pro-democracy camp.
Lam raised eyebrows for asking rhetorically on Friday why she needed to say “no” to Beijing’s liaison office, which appeared to be canvassing support for her.
Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai, a National People’s Congress standing committee delegate and one of the advisors for Lam, jumped to her defence: “The central government is a stakeholder as the chief executive is a bridge between Hong Kong and Beijing,” she said. “It has a right to express its views, which does not necessarily amount to interference.”