Sing Tao News Corporation chairman Charles Ho Tsu-kwok extended an olive branch to Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying last night, praising him as a competent leader.
It was a turnaround from last year's election campaign, in which Ho - who backed Leung's rival Henry Tang Ying-yen - launched a scathing attack on Leung.
At the Leader of the Year award ceremony, organised by Sing Tao, Ho said Leung was a man of leadership and that he was happy about his election victory. "After the election, I had a meal with [Leung]. I thought it would be like a US [presidential] election, that everything would come to a close afterwards," he said. He added that had Leung come to him for help last year during the election campaign, he would not have supported Tang.
"If Henry Tang won, I'd have to support him, back him despite any adversities. That would be troublesome," he said.
During the campaign, Ho attacked Leung, questioning his ability as a leader.
"When it comes to elections, there's no such thing as a gentleman. You throw your full weight into it," he said last night.
Leung, who was once the non-executive director of Sing Tao, was also at last night's ceremony. He shook hands with Ho, and they had their picture taken together.
But Leung did not reply when asked if the two had repaired their relationship.
In December 2011, Ho called a surprise press briefing at which he attacked Leung's ability to govern Hong Kong. He dismissed Leung's accusation at the time that the Sing Tao Group was conducting a smear campaign against him, calling the allegations "total nonsense".
Ho had earlier defended reports the group ran about Leung's business losses, and a judge rejecting his testimony in court in 2002, saying they were all based on correct information.
One Sing Tao Daily headline from November 2011 suggested Leung "lost all the money in his pocket in one go" when a business went under.
Ho even said last year that he would vote for Albert Ho Chun-yan ahead of Leung: "I would not vote for Leung. I have no way to understand his personality and his political platforms."