The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Softer tone in HK ruler
- Tung vows to carry on, but be more responsive

Hong Kong, July 17 (Reuters): Hong Kong leader Tung Chee-hwa, deeply unpopular and facing the territory’s biggest political crisis in years, vowed today to remain in office but promised to be more responsive to the public.

A day after two of his publicly vilified cabinet ministers announced their resignations, a tired-looking Tung called a news conference and reiterated he would carry on.

“The public has reminded me I should adopt a modest, open and sincere attitude in order to win their trust and support,” the Beijing-appointed leader said.

Asked whether he had considered quitting from his position as Hong Kong’s chief executive, Tung said: “Never”.

“If I say I will leave my position, it will not be responsible, it will bring more instability,” he said.

More than half-a-million people held a protest on Hong Kong’s streets earlier this month to voice their anger at government plans to bring in a new anti-subversion law.

Tung postponed plans to present the Bill in the local legislature but the protests have widened with demands for universal suffrage and people demanding the right to choose their own leader. Tung has been the focus of their anger.

They are the biggest protests in 14 years in the former British colony which was handed back to China in 1997. Hundreds of thousands of people came out on to the streets in 1989 in the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing.

“The march on July 1 was a timely reminder for me that no matter how good my officials and I believe a certain policy is, we should not and cannot ask the public to accept it as a matter of course,” Tung said. He said he was so shocked by the protest he stayed up all that night.

Financial markets were on edge today after security secretary Regina Ip and financial secretary Antony Leung announced their resignations late yesterday. This raised fresh questions about the government’s ability to revive what was once one of the world’s most dynamic economies.

Ip has been widely criticised for pushing the subversion Bill while Leung has been under fire for buying a $100,000 luxury car a few weeks before he announced new taxes on vehicles.

The Hang Seng Index ended 1.08 per cent down at 10,096.72 points while Hong Kong dollar forwards, which measure perceived risk to its peg to the US dollar, edged nervously higher.

Tung, accused of being indecisive and out of touch with the public, has given little explanation for the cabinet departures.

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