Beijing did not want me in Hong Kong leadership race, Jasper Tsang reveals

Former Legco president also discloses his narrow escape from death with heart complaint

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 March, 2017, 5:02pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 March, 2017, 10:52pm

Former Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing has revealed that Beijing did not support him to run for chief executive after he showed interest in the job last year.

Tsang, 69, also disclosed on Wednesday that he narrowly escaped death when he was diagnosed with a critical heart condition and underwent major surgery last month.

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The outspoken founding member of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, the city largest pro-government party, hinted on a radio show in July last year that he might run to make the election more competitive.

But he said he received an “advice” from Beijing two or three months later.

“I got a friendly advice from a friend close to Beijing officials, saying if I run, Beijing will not support me. It would be pointless if I am determined to run but Beijing won’t let me win.”

But Tsang said it was lucky that he did not join the race because when he underwent angioplasty surgery at the end of February doctors later told him his heart condition was critical.

“I have narrowly escaped death,” he said.

Tsang made the revelations during an online interview with former Democratic Party chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing.

John came to me and asked if I would run. I said likely not and encouraged him to join the race
Jasper Tsang Yok-sing, former Legco president

Tsang also disclosed his exchanges with two of the chief executive contenders, former financial secretary John Tsang Chun-wah and former chief secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yut-ngor. The third hopeful is retired judge Woo Kwok-hing.

“John came to me and asked if I would run. I said likely not and encouraged him to join the race.”

Tsang said the chat took place before Woo announced his bid to run last October and before incumbent leader Leung Chun-ying’s shock declaration in December that he would not seek another term.

He admitted that Tsang had later asked for his advice on his manifesto, especially on political matters such as controversial national security legislation, and he suggested he handle easier tasks first and difficult ones later – advice that Tsang adopted.

After Lam announced she would join the race, the former Legco chief said she checked with him if he had helped John Tsang.

“I told her I won’t join John’s rally on stage,” he said, adding the work of his think tank, Hong Kong Vision, was public and both of them could take reference from it while drafting their manifestos.