Leung, 57, yesterday resigned as the Asia Pacific chairman of DTZ Holdings Plc, a London-listed property broker, to campaign for the position. Tang, 59, said he will announce his candidacy by the end of the month.
Hong Kong’s economy barely grew in the third quarter, and surging housing prices and inflation have spurred protests and led to a record-low approval rating for the government. Leung and Tang need to win votes from a 1,200-member election committee, some picked by China, that in March will select the replacement for outgoing Chief Executive Donald Tsang.
“The candidates are running neck-to-neck as both are acceptable to Beijing,” said Bernard Charnwut Chan, a Hong Kong delegate to China’s National People’s Congress. “It’s good that we don’t have a mandated person, and that engages the whole community to discuss who is a better leader to tackle the city’s conflicts, like home and health-care issues.”
Tens of thousands of demonstrators marched to protest surging home prices and inequality on July 1, the 14th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to Chinese rule. Tsang, who will step down in June after running the city for seven years, last month said the jump in housing prices, up 70 percent since the start of 2009, has been the biggest source of public anger.
“The chaos in Europe and U.S. economies could hit Hong Kong hard, we need an experienced and capable helmsman to lead us,” Joseph Yam, who steered the city through the 1997-1998 Asian financial crisis as head of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority then, said yesterday in declaring for Tang.
Yam’s backing echoed that from Peter Wong, chief executive officer for Asia Pacific at HSBC Holdings Plc, who said Nov. 23 Hong Kong would benefit under Tang thanks to his “clear vision and strategies on finance and economy.”
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