HK's Tsang secures second term
Donald Tsang wins Hong Kong's first contested leadership elections.
Last Modified: 26 Mar 2007 02:26 GMT
Hong Kong, - CHINA : Hong Kong's China-backed leader Donald Tsang celebrates in Hong Kong, 25 March 2007. Tsang was awarded another term in office on when the handful of city elites allowed to vote easily re-elected him over a pro-democracy challenger. The 800 members of Hong Kong's election committee are the only people in this territory of nearly seven million people allowed to vote for the chief executive, and they gave Tsang a 649-123 win over Alan Leong, officials said. AFP PHOTO/WOODY WU

Hong Kong's incumbent chief executive has beaten his challenger in Hong Kong's first contested leadership race since it returned to Chinese rule, but the losing candidate said the vote was rigged and demanded greater democracy.
An election committee voted 649 to 123 to keep Donald Tsang in office for a five-year term, officials said on Sunday.
He had been widely expected to beat his rival, Alan Leong, because the panel has always picked the candidate who has Beijing's blessing.
However, one of Tsang's main campaign promises was to produce a road map and timetable for full democracy in Hong Kong.

This was the first time a post-handover leader has made such a specific pledge to deliver democratic reforms.


Tsang also said he would clean up Hong Kong's smog and build on the city's reputation as a global financial capital.




Activist Leung Kwok-hung protested
against the results [Reuters]

Leong acknowledged early in the race that he was likely to lose, and dismissed the election as he went to cast his ballot.


"This is, of course, a rigged small-circle election, he said.


But Leong also noted it was a historic event because the pro-democracy camp was able to gather enough signatures to get a candidate on the ballot for the first time since the handover.


The race also involved the city's first televised election debates, which many thought Leong won.


Leung Kwok-hung, a radical pro-democracy minister, nicknamed "Long Hair" for his looks, showed up at the voting venue wearing a pig mask and a gold Chinese emperor's jacket over a body suit covered with a skeleton pattern.


"Shame, shame! I condemn Donald Tsang and the Chinese government," he said.


"I hope in five years, the next election, I can vote with the public"

Richard Li, businessman

He also briefly interrupted the results announcement by yelling slogans.


Richard Li, one of Hong Kong's richest men, called for full democracy as he arrived to cast his ballot.


"I hope in five years, the next election, I can vote with the public," said Li, whose father, Li Ka-shing, is the city's wealthiest tycoon.


China's communist leaders have said Hong Kong is not ready for full democracy, and have declined to say when the time would be right. However, Hong Kong's mini constitution, or Basic Law, says the city should eventually be fully democratic.


Tsang, 62, joined the government 40 years ago and rose quickly to become financial secretary in 1995, the first ethnic Chinese ever to hold the number-three post.


He was knighted for his service just before Britain handed the territory back to China in 1997.


Ten years on, he is set to serve a second five years as chief executive - a long way to have come for someone whose career appeared to have reached its pinnacle but was then revived when the administration of his predecessor, Tung Chee-hwa, ran aground.


Although he enjoys support from the leadership in Beijing, which helped steer him to victory on Sunday, challenges lie ahead.


Tsang must try to balance the wishes of influential pro-Beijing forces in Hong Kong, who have remained suspicious of him, with those of democracy-hungry Hong Kongers who want universal suffrage as soon as possible.

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