Former finance chief John Tsang to teach at University of Hong Kong

Defeated chief executive candidate has kept a low profile since election, but recently claimed ‘strong feeling that I have not been retired’

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 September, 2017, 9:01am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 September, 2017, 9:01am

Former finance chief and defeated chief executive candidate John Tsang Chun-wah has agreed to take an unpaid, part-time teaching role at the University of Hong Kong.

A university spokesman said on Tuesday Tsang would be an adjunct professor, but that “no specific arrangement of teaching or other works have been made yet, and there is no salary or payment involved.”

A source at HKU said Tsang had verbally agreed to take up the post, but declined to comment on why his name had already appeared on the department of politics and public administration’s webpage before all formalities had cleared. That addition appeared to have revealed the appointment when it went online on Monday.

Tsang was Hong Kong’s financial secretary from 2007 to 2017. He ran for chief executive earlier this year but lost to Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, who was thought to be less popular with the general public but said to have Beijing’s blessing.

Derek Yuen Mi-chang, an honorary assistant professor at the department, who was also on Tsang’s campaign team during his leadership run, said he thought Tsang would “be giving guest lectures rather than a whole course”.

“It is a bold and committed move for him,” Yuen said.

He said the new arrival was good news for students, as universities’ public administration and politics curriculums are “outdated”.

On August 30, Tsang gave a speech on populism at the university’s faculty of social sciences, in which he mentioned his election bid. Back then, he said there was nothing wrong with populism, not long after running a campaign which made much more use of social media and public appearances than his opponent’s.

Tsang has kept a low profile since his election loss. Two weeks ago, he asked his Facebook followers to stay tuned for news of what he had been working on.

“I have attended different events … and interacted with young people. I have a strong feeling that I have not been retired,” Tsang said in the video he posted on the site.

The next day, he appeared in another online video, with Chong Chan-yau, president of the Hong Kong Blind Union. In it, they both sang, and asked Hongkongers to donate money to the Dialogue in the Dark Foundation, a charity supporting people with sight problems.

Hong Kong’s ‘Mr Pringles’ John Tsang chips in for charity with potato meal

If Tsang hoped to take any job within a year of leaving the government, he would need approval from the advisory committee on post-office employment for former chief executives and politically appointed officials.

On Tuesday night, the Chief Executive’s Office, on behalf of the committee, said: “To date, the advisory committee has not received any request for advice from Mr Tsang regarding any proposed employment to be taken up by him within one year after leaving the office.”

Among other former political appointees to end up adjunct professors at local universities are Christine Loh Kung-wai, former undersecretary for the environment, and Professor Chan Ka-keung, former secretary for financial services and the treasury.

Both got approval from the advisory committee and will teach at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.