Beijing and poll results prompt Tien to drop out
April 14, 2005
Disgruntled Liberal Party chief James Tien decided
Wednesday to drop out of the chief executive election
on July 10 after failing to secure support from either
the central government or the general public of Hong
Announcing his decision, Tien made it clear he had
consulted some Beijing officials about his possible
candidacy and got a feeling that the central
government will support Acting Chief Executive Donald
However, he said the chief reason for his decision not
to stand was was an internal party poll which showed
little support for him in comparison with Tsang, he
The poll conducted by the party between March 31 and
April 12 on 6,167 people showed 60 percent favored
Tsang as the next chief executive, compared to 5.8
percent for Tien, with 34 percent preferring neither.
Tien admitted he was deeply disappointed by the
results and added that he would have felt embarrassed
asking the 800-strong Election Committee and the
central government to support him.
``I am very disappointed at the poll results. I very
much wanted to run for the chief executive, but this
poll doesn't give me any confidence.
``When the popularity gap between me and Donald is
that big, it is really hard for me, based on this
poll, to lobby support from the Election Committee,''
he said at a press conference Wednesday.
Tien explained that although his party had approached
some election committee members and they were more
positive about his candidacy, he was more concerned
about his lack of public popularity. ``I reckon that I
have a slim chance of winning the race. I should not
run for the sake of running or for the sake of
``If I press ahead with my bid without regard for how
many votes I can win, there will be a negative impact
on my party's morale and development.
``We think public opinion is very important. Even if I
could win the seat with the support of the Election
Committee, I don't think it would be a glorious
victory,'' he said.
Tien added when he tried to gauge the views of the
central leaders, they did not give him a clear signal
that they would support him in an election bid.
``But I got a general impression that the central
government will support Donald to be the next chief
executive. But they did not ask me not to run nor did
they say they wanted to see an uncontested race,'' he
Tien, who was said to have angered Beijing when he
suddenly resigned from the Executive Council in July
2003, forcing a dramatic backdown of the government
over the Article 23 saga, said he had no idea why he
failed to gain Beijing's support. ``The central
leaders did not explain anything, nor did they talk
about Article 23 to me,'' he said. However, he
insisted Beijing's preference was only secondary,
saying had he secured substantial popular support, he
would have fought to win over Beijing.
``I really haven't thought about the central
government's preference for Donald. That is actually
secondary. If the poll showed I were equally favored
by Hong Kong people, certainly I would pursue that
matter with the central government and ask why Donald
is a better choice. But now, I can't even ask this
question,'' he said.
Tien insisted nobody, including the central leaders,
had persuaded him to quit the race.
``I want to know Beijing's view on my candidacy
because one needs to obtain Beijing's affirmation to
be the chief executive,'' he said.
He also denied his party's voting stance in the
upcoming election would be influenced by Beijing,
saying his party had not discussed whether to support
Tsang in the election.
However, he did not rule out the possibility that he
would run for the post in 2007. ``We won't rule out
any possibility, but we need to see how Donald will
govern Hong Kong and whether there will be other
candidates in 2007.''
Tien said since the poll did not ask the respondents
the reason for their choice, he had no idea as to why
he lagged so far in popularity.
``Is it because of me or because of the fact that
party politics is still immature in Hong Kong? I
really don't know. But I hope the public is not
doubting my competence.''