Tsang takes swipe at government pension consultation run by election rival Carrie Lam

Former financial secretary says he would restart exercise as city leader

PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 February, 2017, 3:42pm
UPDATED : Friday, 17 February, 2017, 11:14pm

Chief executive contender John Tsang Chun-wah has slammed last year’s public consultation on pension coverage as “flawed”, pledging to completely restart the process if elected next month.

The former financial secretary committed to the second consultation – not included in his manifesto – after meeting with social welfare sector representatives on Thursday night.

“I intend to start the study on universal retirement protection all over again because the consultation last time sparked huge controversy,” Tsang said Friday.

The last consultation, which his main election rival Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor supervised as chief secretary and chair of the Poverty Commission, ended in December with a report that revealed more than 90 per cent of respondents backed protection regardless of wealth.

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Despite the public support for universal coverage, the government last month announced it would instead go for a means-tested option.

Lam’s office did not respond to Tsang’s remarks.

Tsang, meanwhile, said he was proud that Hong Kong was again ranked the world’s freest economy by the US Heritage Foundation earlier this week, with full marks for fiscal health.

“This reflects that maintenance of an ample government reserve has given a lot of confidence to international organisations and investors,” he said.

All chief executive hopefuls need 150 nominations from the 1,194-member Election Committee in order to secure their candidacy for the March 26 election. They will then need to secure 601 votes to win on the day.

So far, 41 pan-democratic Election Committee members – from various sectors and the Democracy Party – have announced their intention to nominate Tsang for official candidacy.

Lam, seen as Beijing’s preferred choice, is expected to bag 300 to 400 nominations, all of which are from the pro-establishment camp.

Fellow candidate Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee has meanwhile appealed to the pan-democrats for support, saying the pro-Beijing camp was “under pressure” not to back her.

Retired judge Woo Kwok-hing said he had received 11 nominations so far. More pan-democrats are tipped to split their nominations between Woo and Tsang.

Additional reporting by Tony Cheung