21 August 2019
John Tsang is not as pro-democracy as some believe, judging by his stance on politically sensitive issues, critics say. Photo: Bloomberg
John Tsang is not as pro-democracy as some believe, judging by his stance on politically sensitive issues, critics say. Photo: Bloomberg

Debunking the myth about John Tsang

As Leung Chun-ying has declared that he will not seek a second term, the pan-democrats have lost a talking point and they can no longer milk Leung’s unpopularity for all it’s worth.

Desperate to find another rallying point to stabilize their support base and to make sure they still have a say in the upcoming CE election, the washed-up pan-democrats once again resorted to a familiar trick — identify a common enemy or a perceived threat in order to rally the supporters and swing public opinion their way, so that they can at least maintain some level of influence on the election agenda or even the outcome.

And this time their new target is former chief secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor.

In recent weeks the pan-democratic propaganda apparatuses have been working at full throttle in an all-out smear campaign against Lam in an attempt to demonize her and portray her as “just another CY Leung” and “another figurehead handpicked by Beijing”.

In the meantime, the pan-democrats are also working aggressively behind the scenes and rooting for their favorite candidate, former financial secretary John Tsang Chun-wah, and twisting the arm of the 325 pro-democracy Election Committee members into endorsing him.

So, what should the 325 pro-democracy members of the Election Committee and perhaps the vast majority of the public do in order to make sure Hong Kong won’t be subject to another 5 years of woes?

Well my advice is simple and clear: never buy into the nonsense pitched by the pan-democrats again, particularly the notion that “John Tsang vs Carrie Lam” is “Good vs Evil”. It is because in my opinion, Tsang is just as evil as Lam in basically every aspect.

Tsang is just as eager as Lam in kissing up to Beijing at the expense of our city’s interest, and both regard themselves as elites and are equally condescending. Besides, they are both equally callous when it comes to understanding the misery of the underprivileged in our society and also don’t have a vision for Hong Kong when it comes to pressing issues like housing.

And worse still, neither of them is willing to commit themselves to fighting for true democracy for Hong Kong at the risk of angering Beijing. Lam and Tsang won’t even touch upon the issue of whether they will call a halt to the government’s legal challenge against four localist lawmakers once they are elected, let alone reopen political reform process.

Perhaps the only advantage that Tsang has over Lam is that he is more polished, diplomatic and a lot better at pulling publicity stunts in order to boost his popularity and public image. But at the end of the day, they are just two equally selfish and cunning bureaucrats who are fiercely competing with each other for Beijing’s favor.

I believe that in order to make a difference and maximize their influence, the 325 pro-democracy members of the Election Committee must exercise discretion and vote in tandem under all circumstances. If they stay united and act together, they will be a force that even Beijing will not be able to ignore.

Now, are there really no other feasible choices apart from Tsang who can bring about change? Of course not! Let’s remind ourselves that there is still the retired judge Woo Kwok-hing.

In fact if you compare the election platforms of Tsang and Woo, you may find that Woo is indeed more pro-democracy. Also, I do not think he will have any difficulty in getting the endorsement of at least 150 Election Committee members in order to become an official candidate.

I believe that as long as Woo plays it safe and doesn’t make any silly mistake during his campaign, he could benefit from the tussle between Tsang and Lam which is bound to get uglier, and emerge as the ultimate dark horse in the CE race.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Jan. 24

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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HKEJ columnist

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