Have faith in Hong Kong

2 June 2005

Declaration Speech, Donald Tsang

Earlier today the Central People’s Government of the People’s Republic of China announced its decision to accept my resignation from the post of Chief Secretary for Administration of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR). It takes effect immediately.

I have decided to be a candidate for the post of Chief Executive of the SAR of the People’s Republic of China. Within the next two weeks I will submit my nomination papers to the election authorities.

This is the most important decision that I have made in my life. It has not been an easy decision. Friends have given me immense support and my family are solidly behind me. But I needed some time alone to collect my own thoughts on the decision. Hence I have spent the past week in quiet contemplation, and solemn prayer.

This is a moment of modest pride but great humility.

Pride because I am an ordinary man from an ordinary home, given the opportunity by my country and my community to run for Hong Kong’s highest office.

Humility because I know the scale of the challenge that lies ahead. I know that I will only be able to meet the challenge if I can secure the support and understanding of the entire community, and have the confidence of the Central People’s Government.

Two other people have declared their candidacy. As of today, we do not know how many will be able to collect the necessary 100 nominations. But this is of no account. Starting tomorrow I will campaign as if there is to be a contested election on 10 July. I intend to spell out my election platform, the policy programme I will pursue if elected, to all corners of our community.

I will start my campaign with meetings with members of the Election Committee which – under our current electoral arrangements – is tasked to elect the Chief Executive on behalf of the people of Hong Kong prior to appointment by the Central People’s Government.

I will deliver a speech to the Election Committee tomorrow detailing my blueprint for Hong Kong in the next two years.

Given the Election Committee’s important role, it is appropriate that I start there. But I will also reach out beyond the electoral body to all citizens of Hong Kong.

In a free society like Hong Kong, the political leadership can only secure and maintain its ability to hold power with the support of its people. Leader leads, but in the end the people must consent to be led. In the next few weeks, I will seek to earn that consent.

I will not talk in detail my political platform today. But I do want to say something about the goals I have set to achieve over the next two years if I am elected.

I recognise that it is the duty of the Chief Executive to earn the trust of the Central People’s government in the SAR’s commitment to faithfully implement in the SAR the promises of “One Country, Two Systems” and “Hong Kong People Running Hong Kong”.

I will strive to achieve it by acting strictly in accordance to the letter and spirit of the Basic Law, showcasing Hong Kong’s contribution and commitment to the betterment of our country.

I recognise that it is the duty of the Chief Executive to rekindle people’s faith in the SAR leadership’s ability to govern with vision and passion.

I will undertake to rejuvenate the SAR Government with a view to nurturing an environment essential for our future sustainable growth and development.

I also recognise that it is the duty of the Chief Executive to prove to the community the administration’s determination to be accountable to and responsible for all the people of Hong Kong. Mine will be an inclusive Administration, not one that favours special interests.

I must be strong on behalf of the weak.

I must raise my voice on behalf of the silent majority.

I will endeavour to bring harmony to our community. We will not always agree on every subject. But when we disagree, it must always be in a way which shows respect for the other person and their point of view.

With these goals, I have set out a programme of policies to pursue with my governing team.

In our relationship with the Mainland, we have to remain a dynamic part of our country that continues to contribute to China’s programme of anchoring its place in the world stage.

We also have to nurture a renewed sense of patriotism so that our citizens here take pride in our country’s culture and achievements.

In economic development, we have to leverage our openness, our free flow of information, our respect for the rule of law, our sense of fair play, and our entrepreneurial flair to fortify our position as a global business centre, living up to our aspiration as “Asia’s world city”.

We also need to equip our citizens with the skills they need to flourish and succeed.

In governance, we have to augment our political super-structure that touches on the role and development of political parties and empower the governing team to work more closely together to effectively implement agreed policies. To achieve this, we have to embark on a programme of reform.

So we have to make the administration more accessible, transparent, and accountable to our citizens.

We have to engage the community more systematically and openly in the Government’s decision making process.

And we have to foster a closer partnership between the executive and the legislature to facilitate consensus politics.

Within the Government, we have to preserve the fine traditions of the civil service, the backbone of the administration. Preserving the political neutrality of the civil service is of paramount importance and when it comes to appointment, meritocracy and professionalism should prevail.

In constitutional development, we have to move steadily and purposefully towards the ultimate objective of universal suffrage as prescribed in the Basic Law.

In social policies, we have to reignite people’s sense of self reliance and self respect. The freedoms they enjoy are sacrosanct. My priority will be embedding a consensus in the community that a safety net only goes to those in need.

We will cherish the cosmopolitan nature of our community where all ethnic minorities are proud of our citizenship and our expatriates readily choose to settle here for good.

We also have to invest in creating an environment and building the infrastructure necessary for our next generation, nurturing their creativity and encouraging their pursuit of knowledge so as to equip them to meet the challenges of modern times.

We will also put the concern for the environment at the heart of policy making so that we combat pollution head on.

This is a project of partnership between myself and the people of Hong Kong. It is a heavy responsibility for us all.

Yes, over the last eight years there were momentous events that made people stop and ask: Is this the Hong Kong that we know of? Is this the Hong Kong that we take pride in? Is the party over? And more importantly, can we make a fresh start?

These are real and legitimate concerns. As a member of the SAR leadership over the past eight years, I deeply appreciate people’s frustration and disappointment. We have made mistakes but let’s not look at the past as a reason for our grumble today. If we open the door for a quarrel between the present and the past, we shall be in danger of losing the future.

Our partnership holds the key for our future success.

We must be modest in our stated ambitions. Better by far to promise one candle and deliver two than to promise all the brightness of the sun and deliver only darkness.

But at the same time we must inspire hope in our next generation. Reassure them that if we work together, Hong Kong’s best days lie ahead of us.

I have lived the Hong Kong dream, born to a humble household now standing on the threshold of the highest public office in our community.

As a junior salesman 40 years ago, I never dreamed of reaching the top. But I was most fortunate to have the opportunity to join the civil service at an early stage. I seized that opportunity when I was young and devoted the rest of my career to public service to proudly serve the people of Hong Kong.

Hong Kong has a chequered history spanning the last 40 years. But our citizens responded collectively with Hong Kong’s typical “Can Do” spirit: we rose to challenge after challenge with resilience, passion and unreserved love for our city. Crises were turned into opportunities. Every single time without fail, we emerged stronger.

I am grateful for the opportunity to serve, to work together with a people that never say no to challenges.

As I prepare to undertake the greatest challenge of my life, I must seek to kindle in the heart of every Hong Kong citizen the same dream that has inspired me all these years: that there is no higher calling than public service, and that in Hong Kong everyone has the opportunity to reach the top.

I deeply believe that, for Hong Kong, the best is still to come.

I want to lead in a way that brings our people together, that unites us in facing the tough challenges of a changed society in which we all live.

Have faith in Hong Kong: a great city that I want us all to feel part of, in whose future we all have a stake.

Have faith in Hong Kong: a great city that I want us all to feel proud of, in which what I want for my own children I want for yours.

Have faith in Hong Kong.

And I ask the people of Hong Kong to join me on this journey to make this great city an even greater place – the “Asia’s world city” you and I belong!

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