PRICES GO UP AT THE GATE
Chief Secretary for Administration Henry Tang Ying-yen is very likely to quit in a month to pave the way for his campaign in the chief executive election.
Tang may make the announcement well before Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen delivers his final policy address on October 12, a source told Sing Tao Daily, sister paper of The Standard. Tang, the source said, has received Beijing's blessings.
Tang plans to resign ahead of the policy address to avoid any controversies stemming from it and which may further lower his popularity.
Recent opinion polls show he may face a strong challenge from possible rival Executive Council convener Leung Chun-ying, whose popularity has been rising steadily.
The source did not say when Tang, 59, would declare his candidacy for next March's election, at which the 1,200-strong Election Committee will select the next leader.
The source said Tang's campaign team may include Bauhinia Foundation Research Centre chairman Anthony Wu Ting-yuk, former Legislative Council secretary general Ricky Fung Choi- cheung as well as lawmakers Lam Tai- fai and Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung.
Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Stephen Lam Sui- lung, the source said, will probably take over as chief secretary after Tang's departure. The source said Secretary for Education Michael Suen Ming-yeung is the most experienced political appointee in the team but is probably not a good candidate for chief secretary considering his health problems.
>Meanwhile, another hotly tipped election candidate, Rita Fan Hsu Lai- tai, when asked last night by reporters about election aspirants said: "At the present moment, there is only one [candidate I support]."
She said if someone she finds acceptable expresses the will to vie for the top post, she will throw her support behind him or her. As such, she said, she will not contest the post. But if she finds the one who comes forward unacceptable, she will not rule out standing for election.
Fan earlier said the next leader must be experienced in governance, and that Tang has been working in the government for many years, implying that he may be her ideal candidate.
However, when asked last night whether she meant Tang, she declined to comment.
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