24 March 2019
John Tsang views a board full of letters and notes sent by his supporters. Photo: HKEJ
John Tsang views a board full of letters and notes sent by his supporters. Photo: HKEJ

John Tsang: CE needs public support to implement policies

Chief executive contender John Tsang said it would be difficult for Hong Kong’s leader to implement policies and achieve good governance if there is no sufficient support from the public.

In an exclusive interview with the Hong Kong Economic Journal, Tsang said a candidate may win the race by gaining more votes from members of the Election Committee, but that does not guarantee smooth governance.

What’s really important for a chief executive is to be able to ease conflicts in the Legislative Council and improve the social atmosphere that has been worsening in recent years.

The former financial secretary said divisions in society are the worst he has seen in his more than 30 years in the government service, adding that the priority task for the city’s next leader is to rebuild the people’s trust.

An election is not about which candidate is better at public relations or image packaging, which may fool some people but definitely not millions of Hongkongers, Tsang said.

According to private polls, Tsang enjoys the highest popularity ratings among the chief executive aspirants.

However, the chief executive will be chosen not by universal suffrage but by a 1,200-member Election Committee, who will cast their votes on March 26, and appointed by the central government.

Former chief secretary Carrie Lam, Tsang’s chief rival, is almost certain to be shortlisted after the 14-day nomination period that ends on March 1, while Tsang is still struggling to win the required 150 votes to enter the final round.

His chances of making it to the official list of candidates will greatly depend on the support of the pan-democratic camp, which has about 300 members in the Election Committee.

Asked about the situation, Tsang admitted it does look like a big challenge for him to cross the threshold at the moment.

But he said he remains confident because of the huge public support he is getting, adding that no candidate will join the race without the desire to win.

Tsang revealed that he only has a small campaign team with about 20 members volunteering to help him, while the other candidates have hired prestigious public relations companies.

Yet he is satisfied with his team because all members share the same belief that helps them react to things more efficiently, adding that packaging by a public relations company does not change who a candidate is in people’s eyes.

To engage the public in the election, Tsang launched an online fundraising campaign two weeks ago. It has so far raised HK$4.8 million (US$618,608) from 24,000 contributors.

He noted that one’s popularity can dwindle very fast and he needs to take advantage of that while he can.

As to rumors that the central government’s Liaison Office in Hong Kong is interfering in the election, Tsang suggested that it stays out because the Basic Law states clearly that the office is responsible for liaison only.

Finally, he expressed his support for the “one country, two systems” principle, which he considers the best for Hong Kong and therefore should be maintained.

[Chinese version 中文版]

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