Hot on the heels of the recent election of Hong Kong representatives to the National People’s Congress would come the election of the city’s delegates to the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and its standing committee.
According to sources, Beijing is determined to introduce more young faces to the CPPCC National Committee, which is going to start a new five-year term this year, by lowering the maximum age allowed for its delegates and standing committee members.
That said, there is likely to be a massive overhaul of the list of Hong Kong delegates to the CPPCC this year.
It is believed that the CPPCC National Committee chairman’s meeting, scheduled for Jan. 22, will most likely pass a resolution officially lowering the maximum age of delegates from 70 to 68.
That means it is highly possible that a lot of seasoned delegates and standing committee members will have to step down this year, including Tung Chee-hwa.
Aged 80, Tung has been serving as CPPCC National Committee vice chairman after he stepped down as Hong Kong’s chief executive in 2005.
At present, there are around 120 delegates to the CPPCC National Committee in Hong Kong, plus another 80 or so representing various sectors of society. Together, they total more than 200.
Among them, 16 are serving as members of the National Committee of the CPPCC standing committee, including former chief secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen and former Hospital Authority chairman Anthony Wu Ting-yuk.
Over the years, members of the CPPCC standing committee who have already served out three terms or delegates to the CPPCC are reaching the age of 70 will have to vacate their seats. Under this practice, members such as Chan Wing-kee and Peter Woo Kwong-ching are expected to step down this year.
However, once the maximum age allowed for the delegates to the CPPCC National Committee and members of its standing committee is officially capped at 68, it is estimated that at least nine of the incumbent standing committee members will have to retire this year.
It is also believed that those younger faces who are currently serving as deputy chairpersons of the various subsidiary committees of the CPPCC are likely to be promoted to new standing committee members, according to a veteran CPCC National Committee member.
An incumbent CPPCC National Committee member in Hong Kong has admitted in private that he is surprised by Beijing’s decision because many of them will have to step out of the political limelight, whether they like it or not, after the annual CPPCC session in March this year.
He added that those who are just slightly over the age of 68 this year but not yet 70 are the most unlucky ones under the new arrangement, as they would have been allowed to serve five more years under the old rule.
As to the fortunate few who are just pushing 68 but not yet so by March this year, they are likely to stick around for one more term.
Under Beijing’s strong leadership, he believes that no one over the age of 70 can be exempt from mandatory retirement this time even if they may very much want to stay on.
Another incumbent CPPCC member points out that even though the decision won’t become an official one until it has passed the CPPCC National Committee chairman’s meeting later this month, it is pretty much a done deal because, as we all know, putting things to the vote at the general meeting is nothing more than a formality.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Jan 10
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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