Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai, widely considered a dark-horse candidate for next year's chief executive election, left her participation hanging in the air again yesterday as she talked about the city's leadership.
The former Legislative Council president said she believed some Hong Kong people had confidence in her, but did not know if Beijing felt the same - despite the fact that she is the only Hongkonger sitting on the National People's Congress Standing Committee.
Fan's comments came after delivering a speech on the 12th national five-year plan at a French Chamber of Commerce luncheon.
'In past years, the rich in Hong Kong have been getting richer and the poor getting poorer. That is not good for a stable society, not to mention a harmonious society. The government has to help people at the very bottom,' Fan said.
Stressing the importance of a large middle class and an upwardly-mobile grass roots, she said she was glad to hear the government was willing to consider resuming the construction of Home Ownership Scheme flats, but expressed reservations about the HK$6,000 cash handouts to all permanent residents over 18.
'If that money wasn't given to you and me, but to a foundation to help people in need, such as young boys and girls with learning difficulties or other problems, it would be better for the community,' she said.
'How do you get the majority of people in Hong Kong to see the future? This is leadership. I am looking forward to seeing this leadership'. Asked whether she meant the present government lacked leadership, she said: 'I can't say it has [leadership] and I can't say it hasn't. I'd better not comment on this.'
When former InvestHK director general Mike Rowse asked her if she would run for chief executive, Fan cited the criteria for candidates as stated by tycoon Li Ka-shing - that the person should be trusted by the central government and the Hong Kong public. 'The fact that I ran for the Legco elections and was elected is a small illustration that some people have confidence in me ... I have no idea whether the central government has confidence in me.'
She said she had three weaknesses as a potential candidate - her age at 65, her health concerns and not having a team around her.
'At the moment I cannot answer your question. I am still enjoying my life,' she said.
An opinion poll conducted by the Hong Kong Transition Project in November found that Fan was the people's favourite candidate for next chief executive, with 60 per cent of 807 respondents saying they would support her if she ran. Of the two people considered the most likely candidates, 53 per cent said they would support Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen, while Executive Council convenor Leung Chun-ying was favoured by 37 per cent.
In January, New People's Party chairwoman legislator Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee hinted that she was interested in running for the top job.