Liberal Party chairman James Tien Pei- chun said yesterday that banker David Li Kwok-po should complete his term as a legislator but not stand for reelection on September 7.
Tien's views came as a government source said the BEA (0023) chairman is likely to be cleared of any wrongdoing and would be allowed to retain his position when the Monetary Authority completes its inquiry as to whether he is "fit and proper" to head the bank.
Li resigned from the Executive Council last Saturday but hinted he could seek another term as the Legco representative for the banking sector.
He had earlier been accused by the US Securities and Exchange Commission of insider trading but the case was settled after Li agreed to pay a fine of HK$62.8 million without admitting any wrongdoing..
"Public accountability matters in the commercial and banking sectors, especially as Hong Kong is an international financial center," Tien said, adding that since there are only a few months left in the Legco term, Li should continue to represent his sector.
"But I think that even if bankers nominate him for another term, he should not go ahead," he said.
Tien is the first Legco member to ask Li to leave both the legislative body and the bank. Most democrats have said the matter should be left to Li's electorate.
A source close to the Liberal Party said Tien was only expressing his personal views and that the party was not eyeing Li's seat in Legco.
Hang Seng Bank (0011) chief executive Raymond Or Ching-fai said Li had represented the sector for many years, which shows he has the support of the banking community.
Asked whether he will support Li should stand for reelection, Or said it depended on Li's platform.
Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing (0388) chairman Ronald Arculli, also an Executive Council member, said yesterday that Li had made a valuable contribution to society during his term as an Exco member.
"His resignation will be a loss [to us] and we all appreciate what he has done. However, he was making a decision not on his own account but in the interests of the whole economy. I respect his decision," Arculli said.
Asked whether Li should resign from Legco and other public posts, Arculli said the decision should be left to those who voted for Li.
"If the voters are dissatisfied with him, and I have not heard anything so far, then he might consider doing so. So far, what I have heard is that his voters in the banking industry are very supportive of him," Arculli said.
Exco member Henry Fan Hung-ling said there are other members in the cabinet with a financial background and Li's departure will not affect the council.
Savantas Policy Institute chairwoman Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee said a person should step down from public service when society doubts him even though he is innocent.
Most people linked to insider trading in the US no longer remain directors of listed companies.
Last Friday Li said many still support him to run for another Legco term.
"I haven't heard of any banker who wants to take over Li's Legco seat," a banker said.