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Interpretation of Wen gives Leung a boost

Phila Siu

Friday, March 16, 2012

Chief executive candidate Leung Chun- ying expressed awe and humility after reports suggested that Premier Wen Jiabao dropped hints he is Beijing's choice for the next chief executive.

"I really shuddered in awe when you [the radio host] said that Wen pressed the button in my favor," he said in an RTHK phone-in program yesterday.

"I still have a lot of work to do to get the support of the public," Leung added. "I will do so with a humble attitude."

Wen said on Wednesday the chief executive election will bring out a leader who has the support of the vast majority of Hongkongers.

Some interpreted Wen's mention of "vast majority" as a hint that Beijing favors Leung over Henry Tang Ying-yen because Leung's popularity has remained high in the polls.

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However, most political parties believe that Wen did not drop any hint regarding Beijing's choice.

Meanwhile, the pan-democratic Election Committee members are urging other members to cast a blank vote in the March 25 election.

Leung said he does not understand the reason behind this. He said they can just vote for Democratic Party chairman Albert Ho Chun-yan if they do not like him or Tang.

Leung's supporter Vincent Lo Hong- sui, chairman of Shui On Group, said Leung has around a 55 percent chance of winning the election following Wen's remarks.

In Tang's camp, some property developers and tycoons who nominated him have reportedly told him in private they are now reconsidering their choice.

Lo believes the recent spate of incidents has got some people thinking about the need for a chief executive who is credible and responsible.

Economic Synergy lawmaker Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung, a loyal Tang supporter, said he does not think Wen was hinting at something as he made his statement.

New People's Party vice chairman Michael Tien Puk-sun made it clear that he will not vote for either Tang or Ho.

The party, he said, will first meet with Leung before deciding whether to vote for him.

Their remarks came as a Chinese University poll of more than 1,000 people showed Leung's popularity dropping to 45 percent from 55 percent. The poll was commissioned by TVB.

The poll also showed Tang's popularity rising to 24 percent, from 19 percent. Ho's popularity remained at 10 percent.


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