18 February 2019
John Tsang (inset, L) has shown a more sympathetic attitude towards the younger generation of Hongkongers, compared to CY Leung. Photos: HKEJ
John Tsang (inset, L) has shown a more sympathetic attitude towards the younger generation of Hongkongers, compared to CY Leung. Photos: HKEJ

Tsang wins praise for more tolerant approach toward the youth

As John Tsang’s budget speech continues to be dissected for clues on the government’s thinking about Hong Kong’s future, observers have pointed to the seemingly different perspective that the financial secretary has about the city’s younger generation compared to Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.

Tsang mentioned in his speech Wednesday that it is a maturing sign for society that the new generation is seeking spiritual wealth, and not just material wealth, and that the government should respond to their needs through conversation not confrontation.

Shortly after Tsang’s speech, Leung issued a statement in which he accused some people of neglecting the importance of economic development and for taking sustained economic growth for granted, Apple Daily noted Thursday.

The remarks were seen aimed at the younger generation, which has been at the forefront of the recent civil disobedience movement in the city.

When asked by reporters if he holds a different viewpoint from Leung with regard to Hong Kong’s youth, Tsang said he respects the views of the chief executive and that the latter has the right to express opinions on what he thinks is important.

But Tsang did admit that his expressions could differ from those of Leung as their upbringings were different. 

When asked by reporters if he would run for the top job in 2017, Tsang laughed off the suggestion, merely saying that the media should be well aware of his position.

Legislator Charles Mok said Tsang’s speech was an exemplary demonstration of what a chief executive should be. But Executive Council member and New People’s Party chief Regina Ip, who is widely rumored to be in the running for the chief executive race in 2017, said the budget speech “lacked surprises” and that it was just “adhering to past traditions”.

Tsang’s choice of words was considered by many as being milder than Leung’s when it came to issues such as political reform and Occupy Central protests. Unlike Leung who has pointed to the damage of rule of law brought about by occupation activities, Tsang only said that he was afraid that the internal contradictions could worsen.

Liberal Party’s James Tien said Tsang’s budget speech was richer in content than Leung’s January policy address. But he refused to comment on whether he would back Tsang for the chief executive’s post.

Both the Civic Party and Democratic Party said Tsang’s conclusion in his speech that the government should turn to conversation and not confrontation was aimed at sending a subtle message to Leung.

Charles Mok added that Tsang has displayed humanity and tolerance. If a similar approach was taken in Leung’s policy address, it could have helped further the cause of making Hong Kong a more harmonious society, he suggested.

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