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Hong Kong bishop says new leader's faith no guarantee of good leadership

China on Saturday named Hong Kong Chief Secretary Donald Tsang - a devout Catholic - as the city's acting leader, but Catholic leder Bishop Joseph Zen said Tsang should be held responsible for the unjust policies of his predecessor.

Hong Kong's former chief executive, Tung Chee-hwa, resigned last week. He became a senior adviser to China's parliament in a face-saving promotion that allowed the unpopular leader to make a graceful exit.

AsiaNews reports that Donald Tsang, 60, who has two children, is a devout Catholic who attends St Joseph's Church every morning before going to work. However Bishop Zen said: "Being a Catholic [is] not a guarantee that Donald Tsang Yam-kuen would be a good chief executive".

Speaking to the South China Morning Post, Bishop Zen noted that "Mr Tsang should [. . .] shoulder part of the responsibility [for] all of Mr Tung's failures. He should be held responsible, especially on those policies which had been carried out by him." They include the immigration policy that denies new migrants social security and the levy imposed on foreign domestic helpers.

Bishop Zen, who has become the symbol of Hong Kong's struggle for democracy, has on several occasions expressed his disappointment towards Mr Tsang, especially when the latter failed to speak out against the security bill and the measures taken against Catholic schools and free speech.

For "whoever the next Chief Executive is," Bishop Zen said, "I have only this advice: the responsibility of safeguarding 'one country, two systems' mainly falls on [you]."

Meanwhile Hong Kong's Sunday Examiner Catholic newspaper reported yesterday tht the project officer for the diocese's Justice and Peace Commission (JPC), Jackie Hung Ling-yu, said the main issue at stake is universal suffrage.

She told the paper that the "administration should learn from the past seven years. The present way of electing a chief executive (election by an appointed committee) cannot win the trust of the Hong Kong people."

She was respectful of Tsang's personal conviction and faith, but said she said she does not regard him as being a strong leader and that he seems unable to take his faith to work or reflect it in the public or political arenas. "Hong Kong people should decide who is the next chief executive," she stressed.

Donald Tsang's faith is no guarantee of good leadership, says Bishop Zen ( 12/3/05)
Uncertainty at the top threatens suffrage (Sunday Examiner 13/3/05)
China Names Donald Tsang as HK's Acting Chief (Reuters 12/3/05)

LINKS (not endorsed by Church Resources)
Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong

Sydney bishop responds to Hong Kong Catholic concern on religious freedom (CathNews 16/7/04)
Catholics, Anglicans oppose Hong Kong education bill (CathNews 17/6/04)
China drops ban on outspoken Hong Kong bishop (CathNews 5/5/04)

14 Mar 2005