Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying took a thinly veiled dig at John Tsang, Hong Kong’s former financial secretary, during the policy address as he touched upon the issue of budget sweeteners.
Leung, who has indicated in recent weeks that he would prefer Chief Secretary Carrie Lam over Tsang in the 2017 CE race, suggested in his speech Wednesday that Tsang has wasted Hong Kong’s financial reserves by introducing various one-off relief measures during his term.
In an unexpected move, Leung mentioned Tsang’s 2011 policy initiative of a HK$6,000 cash giveaway to citizens, and made it clear that he felt the handout was unnecessary.
Leung said that he had never collected his share as he believed it would be better if the money remains in the treasury, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
Leung, who has less than six months left in his term as CE, said he didn’t collect the HK$6,000 as a matter of principle.
That declaration, however, seems to contradict media reports in the past which indicated that Leung had donated the money to a charity that took up some China-related work.
Newspapers, including pro-Beijing outlets such as Wen Wei Po and Ta Kung Pao, had reported that Leung had once said in a charity event that his share of HK$6,000 would be donated to the Small Gift Campaign to help those affected by desertification in China.
Photos of Leung with the fund’s founder, Lau Nai-keung, were also published by the media.
In 2011, Tsang announced a cash scheme of HK$6,000 to all Hong Kong citizens aged 18 or above, marking the first of such direct cash subsidy in the city’s history. The cash dole cost the government HK$36 billion in total.
Leung suggested Wednesday that the exercise was a waste of useful resources. The money could have been used better to assist the elderly who need help more than others, he said.
Separately, Leung said during a TV forum that he regularly visits different districts to check on people’s livelihood issues, but he has stopped making his visit schedule public in advance as he wants to avoid disruptive protest activities.
In other comments, Leung said that he agreed that Facebook was one of the ways to glean people’s thoughts and opinions.
Although there are many neutral posts on the social media platform, there are still a large amount of “angry reactions” aimed at him, which he said is “not useful to his work nor the government’s policy-making”.
Ivan Choy Chi-keung, a senior lecturer at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, told Apple Daily that it is no secret that Tsang and Leung’s financial management philosophies were quite different.
The paper cited sources as saying that Leung had wanted Paul Chan as the financial secretary after Tsang instead of Ceajer Chan deputizing in that role.
Choy believes that Leung has already displayed an obvious preference on the candidates for the Chief Executive race in March, siding with Lam and making snide remarks about Tsang.
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