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Donald Tsang

The man on Henry Tang's coat-tails

PUBLISHED : Monday, 28 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 28 November, 2011, 12:00am

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Connect the faces. Follow the money.

Who is that handsome young man tailing newly-minted chief executive candidate Henry Tang Ying-yen when he talks to reporters, shielding him from protesters and having a tete-a-tete in quieter moments on the campaign trail? Lean, tan and fit, Lau Ming-wai could be mistaken for a Canto-pop heartthrob any day unless you follow finance and property news. He is, of course, none other than the vice-chairman of Chinese Estates Group, and son of playboy tycoon Joseph Lau Luen-hung.

Tang is trying hard to be a man of the people and has been making field trips to old and poor districts. But you know who his real friends are. It's difficult when you have to trek from a palatial home on The Peak. A chauffeured sedan is out of the question when you are trying to be close to grass-roots people.

Having young Lau around probably helps ease the discomfort. Both have much in common, having been born into money. It is the property tycoon-in-waiting working for the chief executive-in-waiting.

So much for the pretty face; now about the money.

Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen might have been the inadvertent matchmaker. He started the HK$10 billion Community Care Fund in his 2010 policy address. The fund tried to attract seed money based on donations from the moneyed class. Tsang had wanted to improve the image of property tycoons, some of whom pledged funding.

But only young Lau made it to a steering committee, set up to oversee the fund's operations, and Tang chaired it when he was chief secretary. To be fair, committee members also include social service work directors like Ho Hei-wah and Christine Fang Meng-sang, even critic Nelson Chow Wing-sun, a University of Hong Kong professor. But you don't see them on Tang's campaign trail.