Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah laughed off questions over whether he would run for chief executive at a budget press conference on Wednesday.

When asked about a People Power lawmaker’s comment that budget’s closing remarks were like his declaration for candidacy, Tsang joked: “Albert Chan said that, but you know he’s always blabbering. Don’t take him too seriously.”

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John Tsang Chun-wah at a press conference following his budget announcement on Wednesday. Photo: NowTV screencap.

In his concluding remarks, Tsang said: “I believe we have both the ability and the wisdom to cope with the problems that we are facing today.  I also believe that one day we can break the deadlock.  When the storms are over, we shall cherish all the more the harmonious and cohesive society that we have restored.”

Potential rival

He repeatedly sidestepped questions over whether he would run for the top post, saying: “Unless you have any particular plans for me, I think [next year] I will still be doing what I’m doing right now… Whatever I say you won’t believe me.”.

He also said that possible chief executive rival Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee supports him, when asked why she criticised his budget.

The New People’s Party chairwoman and lawmaker slammed the budget for lacking originality and creativity, and for the absence of any youth-oriented policies. “If he really cares about young people, then he should reflect on whether the starting pay of university graduates has increased in the eight, nine years that he’s been finance secretary,” Ip said.

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Regina Ip was critical of Tsang’s budget.

Ip said that becoming the leader of the city took more than just saying things people want to hear.

Too little for young people

The 2016 budget announced on Wednesday is Tsang’s ninth budget as Finance Secretary. The budget received mixed reviews, with the abolition of public housing rent waivers a sore point for both pan-democratic and pro-establishment lawmakers. Both sides commented that the budget was not doing enough for regular Hong Kong people.

Pro-Beijing DAB party chairwoman Starry Lee Wai-king commented that the budget was “still not doing enough to relieve Hongkongers’ problems”, while Democratic Party legislator Helena Wong Pik-wan also said there is a lack of policies directed towards young people.

Hermina is a Hong Kong writer and journalist. She graduated with a degree in politics from Cambridge, and is interested in international affairs, particularly those related to China, the EU and the Middle East. She also enjoys political satire.