Former Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang has said he cannot see “mutual support and respect” in the transition of power between Leung Chun-ying and new leader Carrie Lam.

Tsang, who is now teaching politics part-time at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, wrote in his AM730 newspaper column on Monday that Hong Kong is not a one-party state, but it also does not have multiple parties holding office in rotation.

“Whether a new administration emphasises making changes or keeping society unchanged, being innovative or continuing past governance, it depends on the performance of the last administration and the relationship between the new chief executive and the last administration,” he wrote.

Jasper Tsang. Photo: Hong Kong Vision.

He compared Lam’s transition with the one in 2005, when Tung Chee-hwa resigned as leader and Donald Tsang took the job.

“It can be said to be a very friendly and harmonious transition; Tsang was the second-in-command in Tung’s administration, regardless of any actual conflicts between the two when they worked together, their relationship in public was very good,” he wrote.

“Tung fully affirmed Tsang, Tsang totally respected Tung,” he added. He said that Donald Tsang did not distance himself from Tung despite criticism, and Tsang retained all of Tung’s cabinet for the first term and some in the second term.

Tung Chee-hwa and Donald Tsang. File Photo: GovHK.

“Tung may not have wanted to leave the job as chief executive, but he was sincere in asking people around him to support Tsang,” Jasper Tsang wrote. “After Tung become a state leader, he never tried to intervene in Tsang’s governance.”

Jasper Tsang said the transition from Donald Tsang to Leung Chun-ying in 2012 was not harmonious because of “reasons we all know.”

Leung beat fellow candidate Henry Tang – then the chief secretary – in the 2012 race, following scandals exposed by the media. Tang was thought to be chosen winner until a month before the vote, when Beijing showed signs of giving its support to Leung. Leung ultimately won 689 votes out of 1,200, barely enough to win.

Carrie Lam was also the chief secretary under Leung Chun-ying. Like Tung before him, Leung also became a vice-chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.

File photo: GovHK.

Jasper Tsang said that, based on their past working relationship and the change in roles, the transition between Lam and Leung should be more similar to the one between Tung and Donald Tsang.

“However, observing the actions [of Leung and Lam] in the past few days, it seems that they do not have the mutual support and respect that Tung and Tsang had,” he wrote.

Just a day after assuming office as chief executive, Lam vowed to halt an unpopular policy pushed out in the final days of Leung Chun-ying’s administration.

Lam also said she will ask the Education Bureau to review the controversial BCA tests for primary school level-three students, which Leung refused to do during his term.

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.