20 February 2019
Senior mainland official Li Fei (left) is seen with Hong Kong chief executive CY Leung (center) after a forum in Hong Kong Monday. Photo: HKEJ
Senior mainland official Li Fei (left) is seen with Hong Kong chief executive CY Leung (center) after a forum in Hong Kong Monday. Photo: HKEJ

Li Fei says pan-democrats won’t be allowed into CE post: report

Li Fei, deputy secretary-general of the National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, has told senior Hong Kong government officials that a pan-democrat will not be allowed to become the city’s chief executive, according to a media report.

In contrast to his public comments Monday that most pan-democrats ‘love the country and Hong Kong’, Li said in a closed-door meeting with officials that China’s national interests will definitely be at risk if a pan-democrat is elected to the top office, Apple Daily reported Tuesday.

Beijing’s control over Hong Kong and China’s security and development interests could come under threat if someone not favorably disposed toward the central government becomes Hong Kong’s leader, Li said, according to the report.

The official was quoted as saying that if he is unable to protect China’s interests, “it would be hard for Li to face his ancestors and offspring”.

Later, Li told reporters that pan-democrats are not willing to discuss the election-related issue with the mainland. If lawmakers vote against the reform framework proposed by Beijing, they will have to bear responsibility for the consequence of their actions, he said.

Separately, Hong Kong Economic Times quoted Li as saying during the closed-door meeting that he was surprised to see so many people welcome him when he arrived in Hong Kong even though his flight came in at a late hour. This might include the people who protested outside the hotel he stayed.

Yau Shing-mu, Under Secretary for Transport and Housing, is said to have asked Li during the meeting why Beijing did not give more room for universal suffrage. In response, Li pointed out that there was no universal suffrage when Hong Kong was under British rule, and that it was in fact only promised under the Basic Law. The central government has merely set the framework as outlined in the Basic Law, he said, according to the report.

Yau was the only official who could ask Li questions as there was not enough time. Yau had been a journalist in the past, and had once served as the executive chief editor of Hong Kong Economic Times.

Although Li Fei said a pan-democrat can never become a chief executive, James Tien from the Liberal Party however remains optimistic. Tien believes qualified CE election candidates could include names such as former chief financial secretary Antony Leung, chief secretary Carrie Lam and Regina Ip, former secretary for security.

There will be choice for citizens as the central government said there will at least be two candidates, Tien pointed out. The race, for instance, could be between Carrie Lam vs current chief executive CY Leung. Lam will definitely win, but if reform does not progress, CY Leung is likely to stay in the top post for five more years, according to Tien.

He added that winning candidate will require the support of pan-democrats under universal suffrage. Pan-democrats can join as government officials even they cannot aspire to the chief executive post. Thus, they should not vote against the electoral framework proposed by Beijing, Tien said.

Secretary for Transport and Housing Anthony Cheung had been a core member in the Democratic Party. He exited the party in 2004 and joined the government in 2012.

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