Outgoing Legislative Council President Tsang Yok-sing dismissed speculation that he wanted “anyone but CY” as Hong Kong’s next chief executive, public broadcaster RTHK reports.
Tsang made the remarks after his surprise announcement in July that he may run for the top job in what political observers regard as a direct challenge to a likely re-election bid by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.
The 69-year-old veteran politician has long been rumored as having a feud with CY Leung.
But speaking to RTHK’s Michael Weeks and Maggie Ho, Tsang denied that he was against the chief executive.
“Contrary to what many people would think… I don’t belong to the ABC camp,” Tsang said, referring to the so-called Anyone But CY camp.
“I wouldn’t say, ‘no, I’m strongly against CY taking a second term.’ What I’m saying is, if CY takes a second term, I hope he can sort of do… some soul-searching; make a good review of his administration during the first term, and find out where he can improve.”
In particular, Tsang said Leung should make more effort to rebuild a working relationship between the government and opposition parties in the legislature.
“I don’t think the government, in particular the chief executive, should or could regard all the parties in the opposition as ‘enemies’ of One Country Two Systems…” he said.
“They are after all supported by a sizable proportion of our community. You have to acknowledge that. So you have to listen to them, you have to work together with them, even if they shout insulting slogans at you every day.”
Asked if he would be prepared to join the government under CY Leung, Tsang said, “If CY is willing to enlist my service and if it is something that I believe I’m competent in… sure enough I’ll be very glad to do it… however trivial that may be.”
However, Tsang said that doesn’t mean that he has ruled out the possibility of joining the chief executive race next year.
Also, the strong indication from the Financial Secretary John Tsang that he may join the fray has also made no difference to his position that he may run to ensure a competitive election.
“I would be very glad to see others… better-qualified people standing…” he said. “But if you want me to say categorically that [I would not run] if so-and-so stand… that may have some implications not intended.”
Tsang added that “if someone else like [Chief Secretary] Carrie [Lam] or John stands, it would be very unlikely for me to stand as well… I really wouldn’t want to do it.”
The veteran politician acknowledged that he has relative popularity among the people and he has solid connections to the central government as well as opposition politicians.
But he said that does not give him any real advantage over other possible candidates.
“Yes… I believe I have good channels of communications with both the central government and political parties in Hong Kong, but that doesn’t mean that I have their trust,” Tsang said.
As a long-time Beijing loyalist, Tsang said, he would be expected to follow the central government’s “policies, their decisions; their instructions very closely”.
“The moment I try to depart from any of the official line of Beijing, I would lose their trust, I would lose their confidence,” he said.
On the other hand, if the opposition sees him toeing Beijing’s line, they would likewise lose their trust in him, Tsang said.
However, he said long-time officials like John Tsang or Carrie Lam would be in a better position to refuse to implement policies that Beijing wants in Hong Kong, because they have a deeper understanding of the bureaucracy and can explain that certain things simply cannot be done here.
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