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Beijing's take on Tang move

Mary Ma

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Despite outcries, Henry Tang Ying-yen advanced his timetable to submit his nomination forms to officially become a candidate in next month's chief executive election.

Whatever his critics are saying, Tang is taking the strategic step of locking in gains he has managed to get up to now.

This is similar to common stock market practice where an investor would lock in profits first, then watch developments when markets unexpectedly become volatile.

Nevertheless, it has generated a feeling that Tang did all this too hastily.

Perhaps - as some speculated - he didn't want to lose any nominations already committed to him. There is also the suspicion it was a pre-emptive move ahead of Beijing speaking further in relation to the CE election.

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Yesterday, a leading pro- establishment figure seeking to take advantage of the Tang controversy told one of his key supporters that Beijing is very angry at Tang for handing in the nominations. It is clear this person wanted to persuade Tang's supporters to stage a mutiny.

But how reliable are this individual's words? The truth isn't like that at all. It is understood Tang had informed Beijing about his plan beforehand, and was told Beijing didn't mind him going ahead.

Lawmaker Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, speaking a day after saying she would throw her hat in the CE ring, said the harsh lessons of Article 23 eight years ago have taught her to listen to the views of the people.

This is astonishing. Is she trying to distance herself from the controversial issue even before she is able to map out her platform? Article 23 is a touchy issue. But sweeping it summarily under the carpet - as Ip appears to be doing - wouldn't free her from the constitutional duty to enact the Basic Law requirement.

Maybe she should instead elaborate on what she plans to do in the unlikely event that she becomes the next chief executive.

The election game may seem foggy, but it is increasingly questionable whether Ip can ever fulfill her dream of doing battle against Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing.

Ip's ambition may be clear, but Tsang's isn't. Will he run or not? He didn't provide the answer yesterday.

Meeting the press, Tsang said his party, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, and its close ally, the Federation of Trade Unions, have reservations about him going for the top government job. They fear this may affect their bids in the Legislative Council election that will be held a few months after the CE election.

The reasons Tsang gave seem to be convincing. Didn't the DAB and FTU win many seats in the district council election? If Tsang is also returned as the next CE next month, wouldn't voters be worried that the DAB and FTU may become too powerful in Legco?

It's possible. But, in politics, something convincing is needed to create a smokescreen. Could Tsang's remarks be aimed at giving him the opening to bow out of the CE election?


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