Hong Kong’s No 2 official launched an attack on Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah a day after he resigned, in a taste of the possible battle ahead if they face off for the city’s top job, as widely expected.
Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor attacked Tsang over a report that was “unfair” to the elderly, even as Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said that Tsang’s departure would have “a big impact” on the government’s work, especially with the likelihood of his No 2 stepping down as well to join the leadership race.
Leung, who shocked everyone last week by announcing that he would not seek a second term due to family reasons, spoke of the impact as he prepared for January’s policy address and February’s budget.
“Now is the government’s busiest time of the year. Not to mention two ministers resigning, even the financial secretary’s resignation itself will have quite a big impact on our work.”
But Leung denied claims that there was any discord between himself and the finance chief.
Tsang has not yet confirmed his bid for the top job, saying he will make a decision soon. Lam is “reconsidering” whether to join the race after Leung dropped out.
Amid speculation over whether Beijing has a preferred choice, former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa made two public appearances with Lam on Tuesday. He set tongues wagging by giving her a hug in front of the cameras. Tung would not say whether he was conferring Beijing’s blessing on Lam.
The only person to officially declare his candidacy so far is retired judge Woo Kwok-hing. Another contender, executive councillor Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, is expected to announce her election plan tomorrow.
Tsang moved out of his official residence on Tuesday. A source said Tsang had picked Hopewell Centre in Wan Chai as his election office, but he could not sign the tenancy agreement yet as he was awaiting Beijing’s approval of his resignation.
“The team cannot formally start the campaign until the approval is given,” the source said.
It took Beijing two days to approve former chief secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen’s resignation in 2011, and eight days for Donald Tsang Yam-kuen in 2005, before they ran for the top job.