Henry Tang (唐英年), formerly Hong Kong’s second-highest ranking official, told supporters he will build more public homes and address the wealth gap if he is picked to be the territory’s leader in a March vote.
Tang, 59, told a campaign event attended by bankers and chief executives yesterday that he plans to improve the living standards of the middle class. He showcased an election team led by David Li (李國寶), chairman of Bank of East Asia Ltd.
Hong Kong’s next top official will inherit a territory of 7 million people facing slowing economic growth, surging home prices and a government with record-low approval ratings.
His chief competitor, former government adviser Leung Chun-ying (梁振英), has pledged to speed up construction of public housing and address poverty in the former British colony as protests grow.
“Many point out that the wealth gap issue is serious,” Tang said in Cantonese. “I have confidence in leading a government with a human touch to work toward social harmony.”
A 1,200-member election committee, including the city’s wealthiest man, Li Ka-shing (李嘉誠), and Lee Shau Kee (李兆基), founder of Henderson Land Development Co, will pick a new leader on March 25 to replace Chief Executive Donald Tsang (曾蔭權).
The vote is part of a process seeking to give the territory’s residents the right to choose their leader directly by 2017.
Tens of thousands of demonstrators marched to protest inequality and surging housing prices on July 1, the 14th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to Chinese rule. Property prices have jumped about 70 percent since the start of 2009.
Hong Kong’s economy grew 0.1 percent in the three months ended September from the previous period, with inflation, excluding distortions from government subsidies, accelerating to a record 6.4 percent in October.
The territory has the widest wealth gap in Asia, according to a report by the UN in 2008.
Tang was financial secretary before becoming chief secretary, Hong Kong’s second-highest ranked official, a career path that mirrored Tsang’s.
His father is Tang Hsiang Chien (唐翔千), ranked the 40th richest person in Hong Kong last year by Forbes magazine.