Billionaire Li Ka-shing said Hong Kong’s next leader must strictly follow and implement the “one country, two systems” principle and the Basic Law, as well as uphold the rule of law in the city.
As the two-week nomination period for chief executive candidates nears the March 1 deadline, political observers are keen to know who the influential tycoon is supporting.
But the Hong Kong tycoon is keeping his cards close to his chest, showing his discretion.
Speaking to reporters after attending an event organized by his foundation on Sunday, Li said he will nominate no one but will definitely vote as a member of the Election Committee, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
He said he is choosing not to nominate anyone not because he is afraid of betting on the wrong person but because he is acquainted with all of the four major contenders – former financial secretary John Tsang, former chief secretary Carrie Lam, retired judge Woo Kwok-hing and New People’s Party leader Regina Ip.
As such, it is better for him not to openly express his support for any one of them in particular and none will feel offended as a result, Li said.
Asked if he has decided whom to vote on March 26, the chairman of CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd. (00001.HK) said he will make up his mind after going through the election platforms presented by all the candidates.
Li’s apparent caution is this year’s election presents a stark contrast to his attitude in the last one in 2012, when he nominated former chief secretary Henry Tang, who later lost to Leung Chun-ying.
Li said the situation was different then because he had expressed his support for Tang before Leung announced his decision to run, adding that he still voted for Tang even after realizing that Tang would not win.
As to which candidate or candidates his two sons – Victor and Richard Li – would choose, Li said they are both over 50 and should be able to think for themselves.
Asked whether state leader Zhang Dejiang had asked him to vote for Lam when Zhang met Hong Kong’s business and political elites in Shenzhen recently, Li refused to answer.
He urged people not to believe rumors about whether Beijing is interfering in the election or if he is under pressure, adding that holding any bias irrationally will only prevent Hong Kong from moving forward.
Reacting to Li’s remarks, Lam said she has had no special connection with the business magnate, adding that each member of the Election Committee should make their choice independently.
Tsang, Woo and Ip all said they could understand Li’s consideration.
[Chinese version 中文版]
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