Donald Tsang

Donald Tsang
The Honourable
Sir Donald Tsang

2nd Chief Executive of Hong Kong
Assumed office
25 June 2005
Preceded by Henry Tang (acting)
Majority Unopposed (2005)
84.07% (2007)
In office
13 March 2005 – 24 May 2005 (acting)
Preceded by Tung Chee-Hwa
Succeeded by Henry Tang (acting)
Chief Secretary for Administration
In office
1 May 2001 – 25 May 2005
Preceded by Anson Chan
Succeeded by Michael Suen (acting)
Financial Secretary of Hong Kong
In office
1 September 1995 – 30 June 1997
Governor Chris Patten
Preceded by Hamish Macleod
In office
1 July 1997 – 30 April 2001
Succeeded by Anthony Leung
Personal details
Born 7 October 1944 (1944-10-07) (age 67)
Japanese Hong Kong
Nationality Chinese (Hong Kong)
Spouse(s) Selina, Lady Tsang (Chinese: 曾鮑笑薇)
Residence Government House
Alma mater John F. Kennedy School of Government (MPA)
Profession politician, civil servant
Religion Roman Catholic
Donald Tsang
Traditional Chinese
Simplified Chinese

Sir Donald Tsang Yam-kuen[1], GBM, KBE[2] (born 7 October 1944) is the current Chief Executive and President of the Executive Council of the Government of Hong Kong.

Tsang began his civil service career in 1967, occupying various positions in finance and trade in the Hong Kong Civil Service, and was appointed Financial Secretary of Hong Kong in 1995, becoming the first ethnic Chinese to hold the position under British administration. He remained in that position after the transfer of the sovereignty of Hong Kong before being appointed Chief Secretary for Administration after the resignation of Anson Chan. Tsang has won praise for his handling of the Hong Kong economy both as Chief Executive in the mid-2000s and as Financial Secretary in the late 1990s.[3]

He assumed the office of Chief Executive of Hong Kong in 2005. Since his appointment, he has been criticised for the government's mishandling of a number of incidents, most notably the demolition of Queen's Pier, Political Appointments System, the Leung Chin-man appointment controversy, and the Employee Retraining Levy waiver controversy. Tsang's popularity rating was 51.6% in January 2009, with 16.2% of those surveyed being satisfied with the government's performance, while 34.4 percent believed it was below par.[4]


Personal background

Early life and family

Donald Tsang was born in Hong Kong on 7 October 1944. His father was an officer of the Royal Hong Kong Police Force and Tsang is the eldest of the five sons and one daughter. After completing his secondary education at Wah Yan College, Hong Kong, an eminent all male Jesuit school in Hong Kong, in 1964, he worked briefly as a salesman at Pfizer Corporation before joining the civil service.[citation needed]

His younger brother Tsang Yam Pui retired as the Police Commissioner in December 2003, after a career with the police in which he worked his way up to the top job from Probationary Inspector, the only officer in the history of the force to do so.

His younger sister Katherine Tsang King-suen is chairperson of Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong).[5][6]

Tsang is a devout Roman Catholic and goes to mass every morning, though his political viewpoints are criticised at times by Cardinal Joseph Zen.

Tsang is cousin of Daniel Heung, who resigned as chairman of the Committee on the Promotion of Civic Education[7] for being at the centre of a scandal when the Oriental Daily News revealed on 7 August that he had transformed a warehouse site in Shatin (rented from the government in 1983) into a private residence.[8] Heung resigned from his chairmanship position as a result.

Sartorial preference

Tsang is well-known for his preference of wearing a bow tie. His nickname, Bow-Tie Tsang, is widely known among Hongkongers. According to a television interview, this preference started somewhere between 1988–1993, when Tsang's office was adjacent to Deputy Political Adviser Stephen Bradley, who himself wore a bow tie. Tsang felt comfortable with the bow tie which Bradley had given him, saying that a bow tie's design brings fewer hurdles to its wearer than a necktie.[9] His penchant for wearing bow-ties and fondness of keeping koi has been portrayed by Chinese contemporary artist Lee Shi-min in the work Hua Koi Tie (2008).


Tsang is also well-known for keeping koi. He had a pond built for them in Government House at a cost of HK$300,000.[citation needed] His other hobbies include swimming, bird-watching and hiking.

Civil service (1967–2002)

Tsang joined the civil service in January 1967, and he has held positions in many different government departments, ranging from finance, trade to policies relating to the transfer of Hong Kong's sovereignty from the United Kingdom to the People's Republic of China.

From 1981 to 1982 Tsang studied in the United States, where he completed a Master of Public Administration at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He has also received honorary doctorates from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and the University of Hong Kong. He was attached to the Asian Development Bank in Manila in 1977 for a year and worked on water supply and railway development projects in the Philippines and Bangladesh.

Curriculum vitæ

As Deputy Secretary of the General Duties Branch between 1985 and 1989, Tsang was responsible for the implementation of the Sino-British Joint Declaration and the promotion of the "British Nationality Selection Scheme". He served as Director-General of Trade between 1991 and 1993, and was responsible for all facets of trade negotiation and administration affecting Hong Kong. In May 1993, he was promoted to Secretary for the Treasury, where he was responsible for the overall allocation of resources, the taxation system and the cost effectiveness of the Hong Kong government.

In September 1995, Tsang was appointed Financial Secretary, becoming the first ethnic Chinese to hold the position. He was made a Knight Commander in the Order of the British Empire in 1997 for his long-time service to Hong Kong, he was knighted by Prince Charles of Wales at Government House hours before the handover. Tsang was also awarded the Grand Bauhinia Medal by the Hong Kong Government in June 2002. During his term as Financial Secretary, Hong Kong's public spending grew steadily as public revenue remained robust and government budget in surplus. Public expenditure to GDP rose to as high as 23%, though still the lowest among developed economies. He also approved a raise in civil servants' salary at the beginning of the Asian economic crisis. The salary raise was finally reversed, aligning civil servants' salary to 1997 levels.

During his six-year tenure, he steered Hong Kong through the Asian financial crisis that swept across the region in 1997 and 1998. He worked with Joseph Yam, chief executive of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority and waged war on the speculators attacking the Hong Kong currency peg.

On 1 May 2001, former Chief Secretary for Administration Anson Chan resigned, citing personal reasons. Tung then appointed Tsang to become the Chief Secretary and invited a civil service outsider, Antony Leung, to take up the post of Financial Secretary.

As Chief Secretary, Tsang ranked second to the then Chief Executive Tung Chee Hwa, advising him on matters of policy and deputising for him during his absence. He was also a member of the Tung's inner cabinet, the Executive Council, which is also the highest policy-making body in Hong Kong. He assumed the post of acting Chief Executive when Tung's resignation was approved by the Central People's Government of the People's Republic of China on 12 March 2005.

Political appointee (2002–05)

Tsang's identity as a civil servant ended in mid-2002, when the POAS, or ministerial system, was introduced in the territory. He carried on his duty as the Chief Secretary, but was no longer a civil servant. Under the POAS all secretaries are selected by the Chief Executive and do not have to be civil servants.

Acting Chief Executive

According to [10] the Basic Law, if the Chief Executive resigns, the Chief Secretary will assume the duty as acting Chief Executive for a maximum of six months. At 17:30 (HKT) on 10 March 2005 in Hong Kong, Tung Chee Hwa announced his resignation due to "health problems". The resignation was endorsed by the Central People's Government on 12 March, which also confirmed Tsang as Acting Chief Executive. Tsang then assumed power as head of the Hong Kong government. As Chief Secretary he served as acting Chief Executive until 25 May 2005, following Tung Chee Hwa's resignation on 12 March 2005. He resigned as Chief Secretary on the afternoon of 25 May, after the Chief Executive Election (Amendment) (Term of Office of the Chief Executive) Bill was passed at the Legislative Council, and went on leave. Financial Secretary Henry Tang took up the post as acting Chief Executive. His resignation was accepted by the Central People's Government of the People's Republic of China on 2 June 2005.

It was always clear that Beijing had already endorsed Tsang as the new Chief Executive and that he would be elected unopposed by the 800 members of the Election Committee on 16 June 2005. He was formally appointed by the Central People's Government as the Chief Executive on 21 June 2005. However, an interpretation of the Basic Law by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress made it clear that Tsang would only serve out the remaining two years of Tung Chee Hwa's term, rather than the full five years originally mooted. In 2007, he was re-elected for a full 5 year term.

On 25 May 2005, Tsang resigned as Chief Secretary for Administration because of his intention to run for the post of Chief Executive.[11]

Mr Michael Suen, the Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands, became Acting Chief Secretary for Administration as soon as Tsang's resignation was accepted by the Central People's Government.

Chief Executive election

Tsang's resignation as Chief Secretary was accepted by the Central People's Government of the People's Republic of China on 2 June 2005. David Li Kwok-po acted as his election campaign manager. Tsang stood on a platform of "Resolute, pragmatic action".

On 15 June, he handed in his nomination form which bore the signatures of 674 of the approximately 800 members of Election Committee which the Returning Officer determined that his nomination was valid.[12] Two other would be contenders failed to gain the necessary 100 election committee members' endorsements, and their nominations were declared invalid[citation needed].

On 21 June 2005, Tsang was officially appointed Chief Executive of the HKSAR by the State Council of the Central People's Government to complete the remainder of Tung's term, which ended on 30 June 2007.

During the Chief Executive election campaign, Donald Tsang received about HK$27.33 million in campaign sponsorship, but spent only HK$4.12 million.. The remaining HK$23.21 million was donated to 14 charitable organisations.[citation needed]

First term


  • Food safety
  • Relations with pan-democrats
  • Political reform
  • Economic policies
  • Environment

Second term

  • Five-year policy blueprint
  • Ten major infrastructure projects
  • Education reform
  • Heritage Conservation
  • Environmental protection
  • Political Appointments System in Hong Kong
  • Stimulus packages to weather financial turmoil

Tsang has said that when his second term finished he and his family would leave Hong Kong.[13]

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ Tsang was knighted in June 1997 hours before the handover. As he was a Commonwealth citizen (specifically, British Dependent Territories Citizen) at the time, his membership in the Order of the British Empire is substantive and not honorary. A non-honorary recipient of a KBE is entitled to style himself 'Sir' before his name. However, Tsang does not use the title in official capacity as a preference [1],[2]. He appears on Hong Kong Government publications as "The Honourable Donald TSANG Yam-Kuen, GBM, JP" without his British honour [3]. The British Government states it has no policy on the use of Donald Tsang's title, which derives from the KBE awarded to him in 1997 for his 30-year service to Hong Kong and that it is for the individual concerned to decide whether they use or wish to be known by their title. [4][5].
  3. ^ BBC Profile: Donald Tsang
  4. ^ Unpopular chief gets ratings boost, The Standard, 23 January 2009
  5. ^ Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong) Limited Appoints Katherine Tsang as New Chairperson, SCB press release, 10 January 2011
  6. ^ Tsang sister moves up the ladder, The Standard, 11 January 2011
  7. ^ Yahoo! News Accessed 25 August 2006
  8. ^ CE urged to respond to Heung home controversy RTHK, 20 August 2006
  9. ^ Episode 17, Be My Guest, originally broadcast on 23 September 2006
  10. ^ Hong Kong Basic Law, Chapter IV, Section 1, Article 53. Retrieved on 20 February 2007.
  11. ^ SARG Statement on Resignation of CS, Hong Kong government press release, 25 May 2005. Retrieved on 20 February 2007.
  12. ^ Nomination for Chief Executive Election ruled valid, Hong Kong government press release, 15 June 2005. Retrieved on 20 February 2007.
  13. ^ Selina Tsang: Pathfinder, Asia Through Asian Eyes, 15 December 2008

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Yeung Kai Yin
Secretary for the Treasury
Succeeded by
Kwong Ki-chi
Preceded by
Hamish Macleod
Financial Secretary of Hong Kong
Succeeded by
Antony Leung
Preceded by
Anson Chan
Chief Secretary for Administration
Succeeded by
Michael Suen
Preceded by
Tung Chee Hwa
Chief Executive of Hong Kong

12 March 2005 – 25 May 2005
Succeeded by
Henry Tang
Preceded by
Henry Tang
Chief Executive of Hong Kong
25 June 2005 – Present
Order of precedence
First Hong Kong order of precedence
Chief Executive of Hong Kong
Succeeded by
Andrew Li
Chief Justice of the Court of Final Appeal
Preceded by
Nur Bekri
Chairman of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region
People's Republic of China order of precedence
Chief Executive of Hong Kong SAR
Succeeded by
Fernando Chui
Chief Executive of Macau SAR

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