As the Legislative Council is now taking its summer break, and will resume in October, rumors have it that several old-timers in the functional constituencies are very likely to step down in 2020 or are thinking seriously about doing so.
Among them, Abraham Shek Lai-him, from the Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong, the only lawmaker in Legco who is aged over 70, will almost certainly be leaving the legislature after he serves out his current term in 2020.
Having been representing the real estate and construction sector since 2000, and re-elected to office uncontested for four consecutive terms including the current term, Shek is said to be hoping to retire because of his age and health (he is said to have a heart condition) and also because he wants to spend more time with his grandchildren.
Howard Chao, the son of property tycoon Cecil Chao Sze-tsung and chairperson of the Youth Committee of the Liberal Party, is reportedly planning to embark on a political career.
It is said that he had initially intended to run against Shek in 2016 but did not pursue the plan. With Shek reportedly retiring, many people in the business community agree that Chao is a potential hopeful for the job.
However, observers say that the real estate and construction sector is pretty much a “small circle” in which the big developers have the final word on who is going to represent them in Legco.
As such, there can be quite a lot of variables as to whether Chao can secure the candidacy.
Shek’s partymate, Christopher Cheung Wah-fung, who has been representing the Legco functional constituency of financial services since 2012, is also likely to step down in 2020.
He confirmed earlier on to the Hong Kong Economic Journal that he has been eagerly on the lookout for someone younger in his industry to succeed him and continue acting as the voice of small and medium-sized securities brokerage firms in the legislature.
Rumor also has it that Martin Liao Cheung-kong, a barrister and the current convenor of the pro-establishment camp in Legco, has expressed in private that he has no intention of seeking re-election in 2020.
Liao was the mastermind behind the pro-establishment camp’s successful bid to amend the Legco Rules of Procedure last year, and his departure would definitely prove a huge loss for the camp.
The retirement of “old-timers” and the entry of new faces could affect the strategic succession arrangement of Legco seats.
There are rumors that Beijing actually prefers Liao to Starry Lee Wai-king, chairwoman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, to succeed the current Legco president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen, if Leung insists on retiring after 2020.
But as the saying goes, “one day is a long time in politics”. Anything can happen between now and 2020, and who knows what our local political landscape would look like in two years’ time.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on July 16
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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