Tung Chee-hwa: Beijing may not appoint Tsang even if he wins

February 22, 2017 11:00
Tung Chee-hwa greets Carrie Lam at a public function. Lam said she decided to run out of concern that a constitutional crisis might emerge if the elected chief executive ends up being vetoed by Beijing. Photo: HKEJ

Former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa said Beijing may not appoint John Tsang as Hong Kong chief executive even if he wins next month's election.

Tung, vice chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, China's highest political advisory body, said this is the reason he asked Carrie Lam to run in the election in order to prevent an "embarrassing situation", the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports, citing unnamed sources.

Tung made the remarks during an event held by Our Hong Kong Foundation, a think tank he founded in 2014.

Lam had previously said that Tung did approach her to join the race and that she decided to run out of concern that a constitutional crisis might emerge if the elected chief executive ends up being vetoed by Beijing.

Tung reportedly told attendees at the meeting that Beijing has the final power to decide who will lead Hong Kong and Tsang is "not the person it trusts".

He did not elaborate.

Bunny Chan, a Hong Kong delegate to the National People’s Congress, said such powers are specified in the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s mini constitution.

Tung’s remarks came after Wang Guangya, director of Beijing’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, met in Shenzhen last week with some Hong Kong politicians in what was described as attempt to solicit support for Lam.

Former lawmaker Ronny Tong, convenor of the think tank Path of Democracy who attended the meeting, said Wang did not ask them to support any one of the candidates specifically but he could sense that Beijing would like to see Lam win the election.

Former lawmaker Tik Chi-yuen, who was also at the meeting, said Wang described Lam as a person with more comprehensive capabilities and Tsang is "better at dealing with financial issues".

Wang has listed four basic criteria for the next chief executive.

He said the candidate must love China and Hong Kong, be someone Beijing can trust, be capable of governing and be supported by the Hong Kong people.

Tik said “trust” is more important than the rest of the criteria, adding Wang believes public popularity is variable.

Lau Siu-kai, vice-chairman of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, said it is difficult to say for sure that Beijing will not appoint Tsang if he wins, adding Beijing just wants to let Hong Kong know by its recent pronouncements that a chief executive must have its trust.

Meanwhile, a survey conducted by HKEJ shows Lam has secured support from 210 members of the 1,194-member Election Committee for nomination as of Tuesday.

Tsang got 100 nominations, followed by retired judge Woo Kwok-hing with 68 and Regina Ip with 14. The nomination period ends on March 1.

A candidate has to win at least 150 nominations to become an official candidate in the March 26 election.

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Hong Kong Economic Journal