BEIJING has told Anson Chan Fang
On-sang and the civil service she leads to "provide better support"
to Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa yesterday.
The Chief Secretary for Administration, who is on a short visit to the
capital, was given the toe-the-line message in a meeting with
Vice-Premier Qian Qichen.
The admonishment was released by Xinhua News Agency just minutes after
the meeting in what observers said was unusual.
But Mrs Chan immediately tried to play down the report.
"This is nothing new," she said. "In my previous encounters and
discussions with Central Government leaders, they had always put
emphasis on what a key role the civil service plays and how important
it is for the civil service as a whole to support the Chief Executive
in the difficult tasks and problems that he has to deal with.
"I am very clear about my duty and my role, and my duty and my role
is to support the Chief Executive in ruling Hong Kong."
Mrs Chan met Mr Qian and the State Council's Hong Kong and Macau
Affairs Office director Liao Hui for about 90 minutes at Zhongnanhai
leadership compound before returning to Mr Liao's office for an
hour-long one-on-one meeting.
On Saturday, the Hong Kong iMail reported that Mrs Chan would be told
to play a more supportive role to Mr Tung during her visit as state
leaders were dissatisfied with her performance since her term of
office was extended.
Mrs Chan dismissed reports of differences between her and Mr Tung. "I
feel there are no grounds for such speculation," she said. "They
bring unnecessary worries to the Hong Kong public as well as
instability to the civil service.
"What we need very much now is a united and stable community as well
as a united civil service with a high morale to ensure the continued
successful implementation of the `one country, two systems' principle
and `Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong'," she said.
Mrs Chan would not deny that the topic of Mr Tung seeking another term
"Mr Qian has said a lot. What needs to be said has been said," she
said, adding that she told the vice-premier that reports of
differences between Mr Tung and her were groundless.
When asked if she thought those reports had anything to do with the
likelihood that Mr Tung would seek another term, Mrs Chan said: "It
may be related."
She was then asked if she had any plan to run for Chief Executive in
2002 and replied that her stance had not changed on the subject.
However, she did not elaborate on her existing stance.
In an apparent reference to negative comments about her, Mrs Chan
said: "State leaders are not in Hong Kong and they may not understand
Hong Kong's situation."
"I also don't want to see other people coming here to say anything,"
She said Mr Qian was concerned about the operation and morale of the
civil service. "Civil servants have come under a lot of pressure
these last few years. We have implemented a lot of major reforms and,
on the whole, have performed very well in the face of these
A survey earlier this month showed that two-thirds of civil servants
were dissatisfied with Mr Tung's performance.
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