Chief Executive Election

‘Don’t give up on Hong Kong’: John Tsang appeals to supporters to continue dream for democracy

He fights back tears during concession speech which calls for people to back Carrie Lam to ensure a better Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 March, 2017, 10:27pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 26 March, 2017, 11:21pm

John Tsang Chun-wah fought back tears as he implored supporters to carry on the dream for democracy and not to give up on Hong Kong, in a concession speech that struck a conciliatory note with his winning opponent.

“I am sorry I have not been able to meet your expectations,” Tsang said after losing with 365 votes against Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s 777 votes yesterday. “I wish to call upon all of you to lend her your full support, so she and her government will be able to bring about a more harmonious future for a better Hong Kong.”

The former finance chief called on Hongkongers not to lose heart in the city as the defeat was his personally, and not Hong Kong’s as a whole.

‘Dreaming was better than nothing’: how John Tsang’s campaign ended in defeat

“Some say this election is like a dream I had with all Hong Kong people, until today, when we finally wake up,” Tsang, 65, said. “I believe this dream to turn Hong Kong more democratic ... has made every Hongkonger willing to dream on – till our dream comes true one day.”

At times, Tsang paused, and bowed his head to hold back tears, when he recalled encounters with citizens: a man who took a taxi from Tuen Mun to meet him in Mei Foo, a mother and daughter who queued up for hours to get a campaign souvenir, or a woman he met in Central whose birthday wish was for him to win.

After the speech, he took questions from the media. Below are some of the highlights:

Q: What do you think is the reason for your defeat? Is it Beijing’s intervention and pressure?

A: I respect the decision of all the Election Committee members. It’s their decision, and it’s their decision alone. They made the results today. What they have is themselves and their conscience when they voted.

Q: You compared yourself to Barcelona FC, in which you imagined you could win in an extremely difficult situation. Did you lose because the referee’s corrupt?

A: We lost because the competitor scored more than we did. Foul play exists in every match.

Q: Would you have won if there were universal suffrage?

A: That’s hypothetical.The reality is that we don’t have universal suffrage. That’s why we need to strive for it.That makes our dream come true earlier.

Why is Hong Kong’s John Tsang popular with the people, but not the voters?

Q: You once called Lam a dictator.

A: I hope that even if [she] is a dictator, [she’s] an amiable one. If [she’s] amiable, as [late Singapore founder] Lee Kuan Yew once said, that’s the most efficient form of government.

Q: What is your advice for Lam, who has no support from the pan-democrats?

A: She will need to work hard to communicate more with pan-democrats ... If someone, especially the winner, does not enjoy support from across the political spectrum, his or her governance will be made much more difficult. That is a real problem.

Q: How can Hongkongers tolerate the next five years under a winner [who may cause] “Split 2.0”?

The next five years won’t be easy. I told Carrie so, too. She said she knew it, and she’d work hard. Certainly not easy, that’s why [she] will need to work hard to get the whole society’s support.

Q: What is your next move? Will you run for another election or join the new administration?

I didn’t plan ahead that much. Give me some time to think about what I’ll do next. I’d want some good sleep for a few days first.

Q: Do you have any plans for the Legco by-election?

A: I have no intention of being Regina 2.0.