Tsang can fight, but calls for restraint


By Chris Yeung –

Yesterday saw two political scenes that could not be more illuminating about Hong Kong politics.

Scene one. Speaking against the backdrop of a billboard bearing three slogans, namely trust, unity, hope, and two words “to run,” former financial secretary John Tsang Chun-wah declared his bid for the next chief executive. He called for “restraint and moderation.”

Enter scene two. Hours before he announced his long-awaited election venture, the Legislative Council was plunged into chaos – again. The post-policy address question time of the Chief Executive at Legco was adjourned with only six questions were raised and answered.

The last, or sixth, question ended abruptly after Legco President Andrew Leung gave the marching order to Lau Siu-lai when she played a video of Leung promising that “a universal retirement protection scheme needed to be done in a serious manner”. Leung argued Lau had “disrupted” the order of the meeting.

To be fair to the chief executive, he should not be blamed for yesterday’s mayhem at Legco. President Leung’s ruling is arguable.

That the interplay between Leung Chun-ying and the pan-democrats at the legislature shows no signs of abatement even though his days are numbered reflects the abnormity of the city’s political scene.


And it is against the background of worsened schism under Leung’s leadership that Tsang’s call for trust, unity and hope has struck a chord among his supporters and certain segments of the society.

Although he has refrained from fingering at his former boss Leung, Tsang has spoken the hearts and minds of many people about their growing jitters about the city during Leung’s reign. That they felt Hong Kong is no longer what it was prompted some contemplating the idea of emigration.

Hong Kong is for ‘all’

He envisioned a Hong Kong that embraces diversity, inclusiveness and rationality.

“Hong Kong never speaks with only one tongue, and has not followed only one dictum; Hong Kong does not just serve the business sector or the labour sector; Hong Kong does not just serve those born in the 50’s or those in the 80’s. Hong Kong is all of that.”

In a speech featured a personal story and frank admission of the ills of the present, Tsang was trying to inspire hope for the future.

“Where others see a depressing situation, I see courage in changing the course of history; where others see a society torn apart, I see dawn at the end of a long dark night. If I can see a future for Hong Kong, so can we all.”

High-sounding it is. It cannot also be wrong. There are no doubts questions about how that can be done in a society with conflicts over interests and values have become more acute, at times hostile, aggravated by a flawed political system.

Tsang has not offered concrete ideas, including how political reform can re-start after the attempt spearheaded by Leung Chun-ying and Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor failed in 2014.

At yesterday’s press conference, he cast doubts on the merits of a renewed attempt if all sides refuse to compromise.

Still, he believes he would be able to make the amends by being a listening chief executive. “I do have a gift of listening and pondering deeply what other people say to me. People who have known me all these years find me easy to work with, and I find myself always surrounded by people with diverse talents and experiences.”

By declining to name any signature achievement during his decades-long public service, Tsang sought to stress the importance of putting together a team put together under the principle of meritocracy and that the team works together.

His emphasis on team work and listening to the views of others appears to be a veiled criticism against the work style of Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, his main rival. Mrs Lam, former chief secretary, is rumoured to be on bad terms with many in the fleet of administrative officers, the cream of the bureaucracy, because of her work style. She had denied it.

Tsang said in his speech he “is not an eloquent speaker.” In his Chinese speech, he said he practiced Chinese kungfu. “I can fight.”

Yesterday’s chaotic scene in Legco looks certain to be cited by hardliners in Beijing and the pro-establishment camp in Hong Kong for them to lobby for a chief executive who can play tough.

But if the majority of people found Tsang’s inclusive and moderate approach makes better sense, their support for a softer hand to strive for a respite and a return to peace and harmony in the post-Leung era is a voice Beijing cannot ignore.

Chris Yeung, Chief Writer of CitizenNews, is founder and editor of the Voice of Hong Kong website. He is a veteran journalist formerly worked with the South China Morning Post and the Hong Kong Economic Journal. He writes on Greater China issues.

This article also appears on CitizenNews, www.hkcnew.com, an online Chinese website.

Photos: CitizenNews pictures



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