In writing about a discussion between two fictional people, former LegCo president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing has suggested that anyone running for chief executive in Hong Kong would be punished if they did not first seek Beijing’s blessing.

His column in the Chinese-language AM730 paper on Thursday featured a back-and-forth between two people surnamed Tang and Chan. Tsang often employs such a format in columns, instead of directly sharing his views.

Chan asked Tang what will happen if someone who was given a “red light” from Beijing decided to run for the city’s top job. Tang, in reply, said: “Then there must be a price. Jumping the red light must be punished.”

Jasper Tsang. Photo: Cloud.

Local media had reported rumours that Tsang and Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah have been given the “red light.”

New People’s Party Lawmaker Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee will host an event next Thursday, where she will reportedly announce her candidacy for the race. She told members of the press on Wednesday that “I have not received a red light,” when asked if she had approval to run. She stopped short of explaining further.

2012 election

In the column, Chan said he heard rumours that Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying was repeatedly given the “red light” when he ran in 2012, but was ultimately elected.

Tang said Leung received the warning because the central government did not want the election to become “complicated” – Leung was racing against former chief secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen. But since Leung was seen to be putting a lot of effort into his election campaign, he was finally given the “green light.”

John Tsang. File Photo: Gov HK.

However, Tang said, Beijing learned its lesson from the last election and anyone not given a blessing would not be allowed to stand, especially candidates who may snatch votes from the one Beijing favoured.

“The opposition camp may get more seats in the election committee this time. If the pro-Beijing camp election committee members cannot centralise their votes, accidents may likely happen whereby the candidate supported by the central government cannot be elected smoothly,” Tang said. “The central government must avoid this risk.”

Concluding the article, Chan said the most effective way to ensure the expected result was to disqualify all opposition camp members who were elected as members of the election committee, as they were unpatriotic in failing to support Leung Chun-ying.

“Then, by-elections can be hosted, all candidates must sign a confirmation form promising to vote according to central government’s orders,” Chan said.

The election for the 1,200-member chief executive election committee will take place this Sunday.

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.