Outgoing Legislative Council President Jasper Tsang Yok-sing has said that he would consider running for chief executive if no other candidate believed to be a “real choice” challenges incumbent leader Leung Chun-ying for the job.

Tsang dropped the bombshell on an RTHK English-language programme, The Pulse. An excerpt was posted to the news site on Friday morning, and the full programme will air on Saturday at 1am.

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Outgoing Legislative Council President Jasper Tsang Yok-sing. Photo: RTHK screenshot.

“Let me give you this answer, which I haven’t given to anyone before,” Tsang said. “As I said earlier, I truly want to see genuine competition.” Tsang said it was obvious that the current Chief Executive is thinking of running for a second term, but it seemed to him that no one else who is believed to be a “real choice” has expressed any intention to run – such as Financial Secretary John Tsang or Chief Secretary Carrie Lam.

“If no one else really wants to run, and if it turns out that it is both necessary and possible for me to stand as a candidate to offer a genuine choice at least to the election committee, then I will consider running.”

However, Tsang said he hoped that in due course, other candidates more qualified than himself will emerge. “I have no experience at all in working in the government… [or] economic and financial affairs. You need someone who is at least knowledgeable in these areas.”

Tsang said these qualities were necessary for someone to be a competent chief executive, but he was “too old for learning now.”

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Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying. File Photo: GovHK.

Commenting on Leung, Tsang said, “He was chosen in a way which caused a lot of controversy, not only in the society at large but also within what [we call] the pro-establishment camp as well, that’s quite obvious. He found himself in a very difficult situation right from the first day. And even before he took office, the opposition… in the LegCo were calling for him to step down already.”

When the host suggested that Hong Kong does not seem to have a very good leader, Tsang said, “No – but you know, he was chosen to be the leader. Within that system, it was a consequence.”

The election for the next Chief Executive is scheduled to take place in March 2017. So far, no one has officially announced an intention to run.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.