Chief executive candidate John Tsang has said he resigned as financial secretary two months ago not because of the leadership race, but because he was unhappy in his job.

Tsang quit on December 12, three days after Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying announced he would not seek re-election. Many observers interpreted Tsang’s resignation as the first step towards a run for the top job.

John Tsang.

But he told Sing Tao Daily in an interview published on Friday that he had yet to make up his mind on running when he quit, but one of the reasons for the departure was an accumulation of discontent. He did not go into the details about what incident pushed him over the edge.

Tsang also said that the preparations for the annual budget had been completed – the only part left was to complete the writing – so it was the appropriate time to resign.

During a weekly press conference on Friday, Tsang was asked again about his reasons for resigning.

“I believe in every single matter there are ups and downs. I made the decision after considerations accumulated over some time,” he said.

John Tsang.

Tsang also launched a campaign whereby institutions can ask for giant models of his slogans – hope, unity, trust – to be sent to them for exhibition.

Tsang made three promises related to what he will do if he is elected.

“I will do my duty, be clean from corruption, govern in accordance with the Basic Law, protect the country’s interests, ensure the implementation of ‘One Country, Two Systems’ will not be twisted, so that Hong Kong can perform its specific role to contribute to the country, Hong Kong, and the Chinese people,” he said.

“I will seek support from the different parts of the political spectrum, to resolve the issue of a polarised Hong Kong, to fix splits, to build unity and a hopeful society.”

“I will seek trust from young people to build foundations for their development, to nurture talent and new generations of leaders.”

Pro-Beijing heavyweight Maria Tam Wai-chu said she believed many Hong Kong members of the National People’s Congress – also chief executive electors – will vote for his rival Carrie Lam.

In response, Tsang said electors have a duty to make their decisions on their own and be responsible for them.

The China Liaison Office in Hong Kong. Photo: HKFP.

Commenting on reports that claimed the China Liaison Office, Beijing’s official representatives in Hong Kong, asked electors to take photos of their ballot papers to prove they voted for Carrie Lam, Tsang said it was only a rumour and people would stop mentioning it if they understood the law.

Asked if he would investigate the UGL case of Leung Chun-ying, Tsang said he would do everything in accordance with Hong Kong laws.

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.