If this is a Tic Tac Toe game, give chief executive contender John Tsang two crosses over his main rival, Carrie Lam.
As momentum builds up for the March 26 election, Tsang appears to have scored over his former boss in at least one aspect — winning the endorsement of popular celebrities.
Tsang, the former financial secretary, has just added two heavyweights to the list of those who are openly rooting for him in the CE contest.
In case you are wondering, the two celebrity backers are actor Chow Yun-fat and film director and producer Johnny To.
The support from the popular figures from the entertainment industry should help lift the morale of Tsang’s campaign team, if nothing else.
With less than two weeks to go for the election, the race has turned into an endorsement game with candidates bringing out celebrities on their side to highlight their appeal.
Tsang, the underdog in the fight for Hong Kong’s top job, will be glad that he has some powerful entertainment artistes to counter the show of strength by his chief rival.
Last week, Lam had award-winning actress Josephine Siao, who has had a wonderful movie career since age 7, make a pitch for the frontrunner.
By showcasing the support of the 70-year-old celebrity, the former chief secretary was trying to send a message to the public and help her narrow the popularity gap with Tsang.
Siao is no doubt a nice pick for a female candidate who is seeking to break the glass ceiling in Hong Kong politics.
The show of support will be good for Lam, but we can’t say the same for Siao, who has begun to face questions about her wisdom in supporting a Beijing-anointed candidate.
The star-actress faced a barrage of criticism in online forums, prompting an exasperated Lam to complain about “white terror”.
Lam, Tsang and the other candidate in the CE election — retired judge Woo Kwok-hing — will face off each other in a televised debate Tuesday night, explaining why they think they are most suited for Hong Kong’s top job.
Lam is being backed by the establishment camp though she is personally less popular than Tsang among ordinary citizens.
Tsang, meanwhile, is winning more sympathy and support from society, as reflected by the latest endorsements from Chow Yun-fat and Johnny To.
Apparently Tsang had bumped into “God of Gambler” Chow in Kowloon City’s most famous tofu café and the two men did a selfie together.
During the encounter, the movie superstar is said to have asked Tsang how his election campaign was going.
According to reports, Tsang replied that he was a bit tired.
This prompted Chow to say: “Hey, you will be ok. After all, you survived an angioplasty operation,” reminding Tsang about he successfully withstood a major coronary procedure in 2009.
Chow publicly voiced his support to Tsang, pointing out that though he is not an Election Committee member, he has the right to speak his mind as an ordinary citizen.
Acknowledging that “Brother Fat is not on the Election Committee”, Tsang said “it is important for me [Tsang] to get not just the 1,194 votes [of the committee members], but also support from the seven million citizens.”
On Monday, Tsang secured the endorsement of another heavyweight as movie director Johnny To came out in favor of the underdog
In a promotional video clip released by the Tsang team, To said if he doesn’t speak from his heart after living in Hong Kong for 62 years, it will be a matter of regret for him.
To praised Tsang for his “soft power” and ability to stay calm, and remarked that the former financial secretary is a person who will not even hurt a person who has thrown eggs at him.
People in high posts should learn from Tsang as to how to deal with problems without sparking controversies, To said.
In December 2013, a protester threw an egg at Tsang during a government forum in North Point.
But Tsang stayed cool and even made light of the incident, with remarks such as “Luckily I’m not wearing a good suit today” and “My doctor recently advised me not to take so many eggs.”
There are indeed many reasons why Tsang is seen as a good candidate for Hong Kong’s top post, though ultimately he is unlikely to be the chosen one.
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