17 March 2018
A picture of the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. China's capital city is preparing for the annual 'two-sessions' political gatherings in March. Photo: Bloomberg
A picture of the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. China's capital city is preparing for the annual 'two-sessions' political gatherings in March. Photo: Bloomberg

Tam Yiu-chung and Ma Fung-kwok will have some big shoes to fill

The upcoming annual sessions of the National People’s Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) will grab more attention than usual, given the fact that both the bodies will start a new five-year term this time.

The March gatherings will also be in the spotlight because many new faces are going to appear in Beijing as Hong Kong deputies to the NPC and members of the National Committee of the CPPCC.

Among them would be former secretary for constitutional and mainland affairs Raymond Tam Chi-yuen, former secretary for food and health Dr. Ko Wing-man, former secretary for security Lai Tung-kwok, former police commissioner Andy Tsang Wai-hung, as well as former director-general of the World Health Organization Dr. Margaret Chan Fung Fu-chun.

In particular, the Hong Kong NPC delegation is going to see a massive overhaul this year, with 11 out of its total 36 members being rookies.

Two pro-establishment heavyweights, NPC standing committee member Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai and head of the Hong Kong NPC delegation Maria Tam Wai-chu, both of whom have been serving in the NPC for more than 10 years, are going to step down in March.

It is believed former chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong Tam Yiu-chung would succeed Fan as our city’s new member on the NPC Standing Committee.

Meanwhile, lawmaker Ma Fung-kwok, who is representing the functional constituency of sports, performing arts, culture and publication, is said to have been widely tipped for the position of the head of the NPC Hong Kong delegation being vacated by Maria Tam.

All he needs is the final seal of approval by members of the Hong Kong NPC delegation at their preparatory meeting scheduled for March 3 in Beijing.

In the meantime, NPC delegate of three terms and the sitting president of the Open University of Hong Kong Professor Wong Yuk-shan is said to be named new convener of the Hong Kong NPC delegation. At present the city’s NPC delegation has three conveners.

A seasoned Hong Kong deputy to the NPC has pointed out that the NPC delegation head will serve as an ex-officio member of the NPC presidium, and be responsible for passing on the presidium’s planned agenda and bills to members of the delegation for discussion.

In other words, head of the Hong Kong NPC delegation would have to fulfil the role as a bridge between the NPC presidium and Hong Kong delegates.

Besides, the seasoned delegate added, the position of delegation head is both demanding and time-consuming, as he or she will have to attend meetings three-fold more during the NPC annual session in March than other average delegates.

However, despite the fact that both Tam Yiu-chung and Ma have a lot of political experience, the seasoned delegate believes they may find themselves having some big shoes to fill at least in the beginning, particularly when it comes to explaining Beijing’s stance.

It is because Fan has served as Legco president for two terms and Maria Tam is the incumbent member of the Basic Law Committee and a barrister in her own right.

As such, in the short run, Tam Yiu-chung and Ma are expected to have to rely heavily on other experienced NPC members for explaining Beijing’s stance regarding Hong Kong.

As far as the allegedly new Hong Kong NPC delegation convener Wong is concerned, he is not only serving his third consecutive term as NPC delegate, but is also in the local education sector as well as a member of the Basic Law Committee.

According to the seasoned delegate, Wong’s expected appointment as the new convener of the Hong Kong NPC delegation is, to a certain extent, a reflection of the growing concern of Beijing and the NPC delegates about the state of affairs in the education and judicial sectors in Hong Kong.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Feb 9

Translation by Alan Lee with additional reporting

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Columnist of Hong Kong Economic Journal.

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