Veteran politician James Tien Pei-chun of the Liberal Party has voiced support for Financial Secretary John Tsang, who is tipped to run for chief executive.

Tien said in a Commercial Radio programme on Monday: “I would like to campaign for Hong Kong’s next leader, not anyone in particular. And I think John Tsang is the best choice among the few potential contenders in terms of the overall interests of Hong Kong.”

james tien pei-chun
Lawmaker James Tien Pei-chun. File

‘Lack of response a concern’

Asked why he only spoke in favour of Tsang, Tien said: “I also support Jasper Tsang, but since he said he supports John Tsang and I think that’s okay, I’ll also lend John Tsang a helping hand.”

Tsang reportedly wrote to Beijing last Wednesday indicating his intention to run for chief executive. He has not denied or confirmed the rumour.

Tien said he believed Tsang had written to Beijing, though he has probably not received a response yet. If that is true, he said, the lack of response is a concern since Tsang will need to resign before announcing his candidacy.

“Tsang needs to [announce his candidacy] as soon as possible,” said Tien. He said the deadline for applying to run in the elections of the Election Committee – scheduled for December 11 – is approaching, and Tsang’s supporters need know ahead of time whether he will join the race.

John Tsang
John Tsang. File

Ex-judge Woo

Tien also said that he did not think the Chinese government will endorse ex-judge Woo Kwok-hing because he has expressed views contrary to Beijing’s view on important issues.

“[The chief executive] needs Beijing’s cooperation on many things. I also think that on important issues, Beijing needs a chief executive who would side with it,” Tien said.

On Friday, Woo criticised Beijing over its heavy-handed crackdown on the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989. The former judge also said he would have negotiated with the student leaders of the 2014 pro-democracy Occupy protests instead of letting the situation deteriorate.

Woo also said Hongkongers are the “biggest boss” of the chief executive, but Tien thinks that Beijing would disagree with Woo’s view.

Woo Kwok-hing
Woo Kwok-hing. Photo: Stanley Leung/HKFP.

Oath fallout

In comparison, Tsang said on Sunday that Youngspiration lawmakers Yau Wai-ching and Leung Chun-hang had made a “very naive decision” in altering their oaths at the Legislative Council earlier this month.

He spoke about his experience of racism when he was living in the United States, and criticised the Youngspiration duo for being insensitive towards the feeling of those Chinese people who have been discriminated against.

The chief executive election takes place on March 26 next year.

Ellie Ng has written for Foreign Policy, the Daily Telegraph, Global Voices Online and others.