Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah has resigned from his post, paving the way for him to join the race for the next chief executive.
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying received Tsang’s resignation on Monday, and forwarded it to the central government, according to a Hong Kong government statement.
Tsang will proceed on leave on Tuesday, and the Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, Ceajer Chan Ka-keung, will be the acting financial secretary, the statement said.
Tsang is now expected to announce that he will run in the chief executive election in March, public broadcaster RTHK reports.
Leung announced on Friday he would not seek a second five-year term in office because of family reasons.
So far only retired judge Woo Kwok-hing has expressed his intention to run.
But with Leung’s announcement, potential bidders who have shown interest in joining the race are likely to declare their plans soon.
They include Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, former secretary for security and New People’s Party chairwoman Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, and a former Legislative Council president Japser Tsang Yok-sing.
Beijing, however, has apparently not yet given its blessing to any of the potential candidates.
John Tsang has consistently topped popularity ratings of potential bidders.
He has been financial secretary since 2007. During the British colonial government, he served as private secretary to Hong Kong’s last governor Chris Patten.
After the handover, he occupied various government posts, including customs commissioner, commerce secretary and director of the Office of the Chief Executive under Donald Tsang Yam-kuen.
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