Hong Kong chief executive-elect Leung Chun-ying’s visit to the Beijing Liaison Office yesterday raised concerns over the role China would play in the city’s next administration, former chief secretary Anson Chan said.
The visit “seems to be an act of defiance,” and showed a lack of consideration to the public, Chan said today in a Bloomberg Television interview. Leung was picked as the city’s next leader on March 25 by a 1,193-member committee that included tycoons, lawmakers and academics.
Leung is the last chief executive to be chosen by a narrow group, with China having promised to introduce universal suffrage by 2017. Some members of the election committee were told by the Beijing Liaison Office to vote for Leung, according to local newspapers, which would be against a China pledge to let Hong Kong govern itself.
“Maybe it’s a taste of things to come,” said Chan, who served Hong Kong’s last British governor Chris Patten. “I think he’s determined to govern according to his own style. And the concern is that behind him, the central government, through the Liaison Office, will be ruling Hong Kong.”
Prior to the vote, Leung, 57, was dogged by claims that he is a secret member of the Chinese Communist Party. Martin Lee, the co-founder of Hong Kong’s Democratic Party, wrote an article published in Next Magazine this month saying he believed Leung has been an underground party member, an allegation that Leung denied. The Basic Law, Hong Kong’s de-facto constitution, bans the city’s leader from having any party affiliations.
One Country, Two Systems
Hong Kong residents enjoy civil liberties including a free press and freedom of assembly not available in mainland China under the “one country, two systems” formula that returned Hong Kong to China in 1997.
The election campaign divided Hong Kong’s elites, with Leung garnering 61 percent of the votes, compared with the more than 80 percent obtained by incumbent Donald Tsang. Tang had also accused Leung of advocating the use of anti-riot police on protesters in 2003, an allegation that Leung denied.
Lawmaker Emily Lau yesterday said Leung has a “very, very tough task ahead” in uniting the city and obtaining support. Chan said Leung may seek to rule with “an iron fist.”
Leung, the son of a policeman, founded his own surveying company in 1993. He became Asia chairman and a director for London-based DTZ Holdings Ltd. in 2006 following a merger between the two companies. He has also served as a government adviser.
“It’s a fact that CY is our next chief executive,” Chan said today. “We should give him a chance. In the next few weeks, we’ll see what kind of team he puts together, which will give us an indication on how he will rule. I don’t at this stage want to protest.”
Leung may appoint Carrie Lam, the current secretary for development, as his next chief secretary, the Oriental Daily News reported today, citing unidentified people.
“Carrie Lam is highly respected,” said Chan. “If he can manage to persuade Carrie to stay with his team, that’s a very, very positive signal.”
Leung said today he plans to focus on economic, livelihood and housing issues, and that the implementation of Article 23, an anti-subversion law, isn’t on his working agenda, according to Hong Kong Commercial Radio.
“I think he’s sufficiently aware that this whole subject is extremely sensitive and controversial,” said Chan. “He has already said that he will consult before he decides how to proceed.”
Former Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa resigned after half a million people protested in 2003 against the proposed anti- subversion law, which they feared would curtail personal freedoms.
Other than the appointments for his team, Leung needs to “restore trust” with civil servants and reconcile the different sectors of society, Chan said.