Whatever qualities the next chief executive possesses, they will have to be able to handle unruly legislators.
That was the rueful assessment by Donald Tsang Yam-kuen yesterday as he shared his thoughts on the transition to the next government and the criteria for the person who will fill his shoes. 'I will ensure a smooth transition which is politically safe, economically stable and socially fit,' he told lawmakers at his question and answer session, as the heated guessing game about who would be the next government leader continued.
'I believe the next chief executive will be someone who is very capable, who loves Hong Kong people very much and who can defend national interests,' Tsang said. 'I also hope the next chief executive will be able to tackle the radical activities of legislators like what we saw just now.'
He was referring to the latest antics of League of Social Democrats legislator 'Long Hair' Leung Kwok-hung, who threw objects about the chamber at the start of the session.
Tsang also disclosed his worries about possible economic upheavals surrounding the changeover.
Recalling the Asian financial crisis after the handover in 1997, during which the Hong Kong dollar was a target of international speculators, he said: 'I keep thinking about this every day. When we move to the next administration next year, will we be challenged by fluctuations in external economies and our political and personnel changes? I am worrying about this and working to prevent this from happening every day.'
Tsang gave his views on his successor in response to a question from lawmaker Lam Tai-fai, a close ally of possible candidate Henry Tang Ying-yen, four days after the State Council's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office director Wang Guangya had spelled out three criteria on the city's next chief.
Responding to a question by another lawmaker, Philip Wong Yu-hong, on whether he would consult 'the three would-be chief executive candidates' when drafting his last policy address, Tsang said: 'I don't know if the three you have in mind are the three I have in mind. But actually I can count seven.'
He said his government still had a lot to do in its remaining 350 days. On housing problems, he said he had heard people's demand for a resumption in building Home Ownership Scheme flats, and would announce measures to help residents buy in his policy address in October. 'Basically the housing problems of grass-roots citizens have already been solved. The problem we are now facing is the difficulty the middle-class faces in buying properties,' he said.
On the long-term impact of the large number of babies born to mainland mothers in Hong Kong, Tsang said the government would first think about ways to accommodate the demand for secondary education brought by these children in the future, and later lay out plans for primary and pre-school education.
This was because mainland parents mostly took their Hong Kong-born children to the mainland then sent them to the city again when they reached secondary school age.
On calls for a universal pension scheme, Tsang said he believed it would not be suitable for the administration to propose it to the public in the coming one or two years.
He also commented on the July 1 march for democracy, saying placards shown by participants carried 58 different demands and not only the withdrawal of the proposal to scrap by-elections for mid-term vacancies on the Legco.