20 February 2019
Battle of the brands? It's likely to be an interesting duel between Carrie Lam (left), or Klim for short, and John Tsang, known for his signature Pringles moustache. Photos: HKEJ, Bloomberg,,
Battle of the brands? It's likely to be an interesting duel between Carrie Lam (left), or Klim for short, and John Tsang, known for his signature Pringles moustache. Photos: HKEJ, Bloomberg,,

Pringles vs Klim

You may not be on the election committee, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have your say on who should be Hong Kong’s next chief executive.

The talk is getting more interesting because if you ask three people, you get three different answers.

In discussing politics, here’s the usual line to break the ice: Are you for Pringles or Klim? 

Pringles is John Tsang, so called for his signature moustache which he has kept for at least 30 years.

Klim (as in the milk brand) is short for Carrie Lam, who is known as “Nanny” because in her more than four years as chief secretary, she has played that role to the other secretaries and senior officials of the CY Leung administration.

Whenever they get into trouble, it is she who speaks on their behalf, defending them and justifying their pronouncements, actions or inaction.

Both have impeccable track records in the civil service and always lead in popularity ratings (because they care very much about their score).

That’s also the reason why they appeal to various sectors and a wide range of fans.

Neither of the two has so far declared their intention to run for the city’s top job, although it would be a big surprise if they don’t.

As of now, only retired judge Woo Kwok-hing has officially declared that he wants to run, but he will most likely be joined by legislator and former security chief Regina Ip later this week.

Still, Lam and Tsang are the favorites, although they are totally different in character.

One big difference, as pointed out by Starry Lee, the chairwoman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, lies in their style of governance.

Lam believes in positive government intervention while Tsang tends to favor positive non-intervention.

That is perhaps why Lam is perceived as an indefatigable woman who can be relied upon to clean up the mess left by her fellow officials.

On the other hand, Tsang is portrayed as a man who rarely breaks a sweat in the performance of his duties.

The man who has been financial secretary for nine and a half years is criticized less for his mistakes (e.g., the gap between his forecasts and actual budget deficit/surplus has risen to about HK$400 billion over a period of nine years) than for his work attitude (many think that he’s putting less than 100 percent effort in his tasks).

Tsang’s close connection with the business sector has earned him a lot of influential friends – among them Bank of East Asia chairman David Li and some property tycoons – who are happy to vote for him.

He is also seen as more democratic than Lam, or at least someone whom the pan-democrats can support – thanks to his Boston school days.

Lam, on the other hand, is viewed as a continuation of the incumbent regime, which is credited for suppressing influential tycoons and hence making Hong Kong a more level playing field.

Lam is more likely to be supported by Beijing, which also has adopted a vigorous approach in stamping out graft.

As such, Lam could possibly inherit the support of CY Leung’s fans, who are still trying to recover from the shock of their boss’s announcement that he won’t run for a second term. 

They could go all out in supporting her.

But, of course, there’s a good side and a bad side to taking CY Leung fans, as pointed out by retired Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang, from a sinking ship.

And so it all boils down to whether one prefers another Donald Tsang administration or another CY Leung administration (without Donald and CY, of course).

The debate goes on.

– Contact us at [email protected]


EJ Insight writer

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