Following is the transcript of remarks (English portion) made by the Chief Executive, Mr Tung Chee Hwa, on his resignation at a press conference at the Central Government Offices this (March 10) afternoon:
Reporter: Were you pushed out? Did Beijing ask for your resignation?
Chief Executive: That is not the case at all. As you know, the Central Government has repeatedly affirmed the work that I and my colleagues of the SAR Government have done. So that is not the case at all. But the real issue is that I will be 68 years old in three months time and for someone who has been working 16 to 18 hours a day for a long, long time, my health has been deteriorating.
It's been tough all along but I felt this particularly in the third quarter of last year. I felt that I got tired very easily and problems, sickness crop up here and there, everywhere. My doctors had told me, "If you keep on doing this continuously, it will not be good for you. You must change the way you work, the way you live." I understand what they are saying but the work of the Chief Executive is very heavy; responsibility is huge and I, of course, feel a tremendous sense of responsibility. If I stay at the job, my health would be affected. It's not just a health aspect, it's about the efficiency of work, it's about the way you think about issues, it's about the way you judge your issues. If you're a pilot, if your health is not good, it's not good. Now, while all at the same time the economy is recovering strongly, the political and social environment is reasonably stable. But on the other hand if you are going to consolidate all the achievements we have made over the last two years or so, there is a lot of hard work ahead. I think it's better for me to step aside because there's a lot of work that needs to be done, for me to step aside and to have another person to carry this thing through. This is why earlier I have mentioned to the Central Government the possibility, my thoughts about resigning and I think it's a responsible thing for me to do. I have written the resignation (report) and it is now up to the Central Government to review this.
Reporter: Mr Tung, will the election of your successor be for two years or five?
Chief Executive: It is an issue I know my colleagues are studying carefully. I think by the time the Central Government made the decision on my resignation, and if that resignation is accepted, I think the Government will be ready to respond to this specific question.
Reporter: Speculations about your resignation have been going on for more than a week. All you have said during the period is "Good morning, I'll tell you at an appropriate time." Do you think Hong Kong people would be content to wait so long for this announcement?
Chief Executive: For the last eight years, every moment of my waking hours, my duty is: (for) the Hong Kong people. Secondly, as I explained in Chinese earlier on, the resignation of a Chief Executive is a big issue and it needs to be considered, it needs to be talked. Above all these, it needs to be organised in such a way that is properly organised. All these will take time. But I think you can appreciate it is not the subject that I can easily come to you and say: "I am thinking about this, what do you think?" It doesn't work that way. This is a big issue, I'm afraid. But I am sorry that we kept you waiting for a long time. It doesn't happen very often, I assure you.
Reporter: When are you expecting reply from the Central Government and who is expected to be your successor?
Chief Executive: I hope the reply will come as soon as possible. I hope that it will be days rather than weeks. If my resignation is accepted, under the Basic Law, the Chief Secretary for Administration will be acting Chief Executive for the period until the election is held.
Reporter: The same two short questions that I put to your predecessor. What has been the most difficult moment for you during the time in office and what are the dominant feelings that you are having now?
Chief Executive: The most difficult decision is for me to make this particular decision. I do this with regret that I cannot complete the five-year term because my health is not good enough. I said this in Chinese earlier on that the feeling of being the Chief Executive, working like I did, understanding Hong Kong so much better like I do now, this sense of attachment, this sense of being Hong Kong and with Hong Kong people is enormous. It's just a very special feeling and it's kind of sad to leave.
(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)
Ends/Thursday, March 10, 2005