My Take

Did CY Leung pull a fast one on his potential rival John Tsang?

The financial secretary was left holding the bag after his boss denied knowledge of a decision not to take questions from four radical lawmakers

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 December, 2016, 11:14pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 06 December, 2016, 11:14pm

First it was, “You always agree with your boss”. Now, it’s “collective decision”. All these are from a man who wants to be the next chief executive. John Tsang Chun-wah may be a nice guy. But the financial secretary’s pronouncements don’t seem to indicate someone with leadership qualities.

Or for that matter, someone who does what he thinks is right or speaks his mind.

Hong Kong leader CY Leung says his finance chief was wrong to refuse lawmakers’ questions

Tsang’s latest faux pas was not entirely his fault. It all started with an inexplicable decision, made at the very top of the government, not to answer questions from four radical lawmakers in the Legislative Council. The four are facing disqualification after a court case launched by the government over their oath-taking. But for now, they are still legislators. For once, both the loyalist and pan-democratic camps agreed the government’s stance was absurd. And sure enough, officials made a U-turn, but not before Tsang stated his and the government’s initial refusal to answer questions by reading a government legal advisory in Legco.

That’s the response of a functionary, not someone who wants to run a major city like Hong Kong. He insisted his stance was based on the collective decision of the government after the legal advice was received from the Department of Justice.

But Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said he had no prior knowledge of Tsang’s decision to refuse to answer questions in Legco and that Tsang was going too far.

Nice move, CY.

Tsang, a potential rival who has hinted he wants to run in the leadership race next year, has been left holding the bag. He put on a brave face, though. When a cheeky reporter asked if someone had laid a trap for him, he said: “Of course not ... we have always done things according to the government’s stance.”

Amid uproar, Hong Kong government backs down after barring questions from lawmakers facing review

Was this tit for tat from CY? At a news conference in September on the government’s controversial Wang Chau development project, Leung took all the heat from the media while Tsang stayed aloof and distanced himself from the project. When asked for a response, he made his by now famous reply, “You always agree with your boss.”

Neither men have declared their candidacy, though both have more than strongly hinted at it. Until both declare publicly and can then openly snipe at each other, expect more back-stabbing.