Tang rolls out the big guns at campaign rally

If the reputations of supporters are any guide, Henry Tang Ying-yen will win hands down in the chief executive election.

Unlike archrival Leung Chun-ying, the former chief secretary has the strong support of the business and industrial sectors.

Leung, former Executive Council convenor, meanwhile, is mainly backed by professionals, former officials and people with grass-roots backgrounds.

Tang's election office is chaired by Bank of East Asia chairman David Li Kwok-po, who also directed Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's campaigns for the top job in 2005 and 2007.

Former chief executive of the Monetary Authority Joseph Yam Chi-kwong will act as Tang's senior adviser, while former permanent secretary for financial services and the treasury Kelvin Ho Chi-ming will serve as the secretary general of the office.

Leaders of the city's four major business chambers, political heavyweights, pop stars such as Leon Lai Ming and 'king of comedy' Stephen Chow Sing-chi, well-known local athletes and ethnic minorities were among more than 1,000 people who packed a hall at the Convention and Exhibition Centre to show their support. It was far more than the several hundred supporters who showed up for Leung's campaign rally last month.

Taking it slowly with the help of a walker was another former Executive Council convenor Chung Sze-yuen. He said: 'If he [Tang] has the chance to become the chief executive, I am very confident that he will make a bigger contribution to Hong Kong. So I am throwing my support to him. I am already 95. I can hardly walk and have to rely on this walker. I came here today to say a few words to show my sincere support for Henry Tang Ying-yen to become the chief executive.'

Pansy Ho Chiu-king, the daughter of Macau gambling mogul Stanley Ho Hung-sun, was another supporter. 'My father has long supported Mr Tang and believes that he has done many constructive things,' she said.

Tang's father, influential textile industrialist Tang Hsiang-chien - a former member of the Standing Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), also attended with Tang's wife, Kwok Yu-chin, and four children. Other big names included HSBC Asia-Pacific chief executive Peter Wong Tung-shun, former financial secretary Antony Leung Kam-chung and General Chamber of Commerce chairman Anthony Wu Ting-yuk.

Wong said Tang won his support, because he had worked as financial secretary and chief secretary and had experience handling economic turmoil. Other heavyweights included Dickson Concepts chairman Dickson Poon, Tourism Board chairman James Tien Pei-chun, Chan Wing-kee, a member of the CPPCC Standing Committee, Lu Gong, son of former director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office Lu Ping, former secretary for economic development and labour Stephen Ip Shu-kwan and Dah Sing Banking Group chairman David Wong Shou-yeh.

Leung's campaign office is chaired by Urban Renewal Authority chairman Barry Cheung Chun-yuen, while former education minister Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun serves as director.

Former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa is understood to be one of Leung's supporters.