Wednesday, October 22, 2014   




Hidden Beijing message for CY

Mary Ma

Thursday, January 31, 2013

The new membership list of SAR representatives on the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference is more political than ever.

It's a reflection of the muddy politics dogging Hong Kong over the past year - from the chief executive election that saw Henry Tang Ying-yen and Leung Chun-ying wage ugly trench warfare, to the recent suicidal attacks by CPPCC member Lew Mon-hung on Leung.

The list being revealed by sources in Beijing is full of intrigue. First, Leung predecessor Donald Tsang Yam-kuen is conspicuously missing. It's been the unspoken practice for the chief executives of Hong Kong and Macau to be appointed CPPCC vice chairmen after leaving office.

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That was so for Tung Chee-hwa after he stepped down in March 2005 before his second term ended due to "leg pains." Ditto for Macau's Edmund Ho Hau- wah.

There are at least two subplots here. Tung, already 76, should retire in accordance with the protocol stating that leaders aged 67 may carry on for another term, but if 68 or older, they shall step down.

However, Tung is likely to stay on, and being active in Sino-US relations, will continue playing a key role in bilateral ties at the civilian level.

It may also be the wish of the nation's new guards, led by general secretary Xi Jinping, to discontinue the tradition of using the post to reward retired chief executives.

Tsang's absence means the door may already be shut. CPPCC standing committee member Chan Wing-kee was kind enough to say Beijing may have another job in mind for Sir Bowtie. But what could it be?

Second, the new list is consistent with Xi's desire to distance government agencies from any taint of corruption.

So out of the list are former Sun Hung Kai Properties chairman Walter Kwok Ping-sheung and former chief secretary Rafael Hui Si-yan. Both these standing committee members had been arrested by the Independent Commission Against Corruption.

Third, Lew's name has been struck off. An active political powerbroker, Lew has no one to blame but himself. Apart from his arrest by the graftbusters over his listed company, Pearl Oriental Oil, and scandalous attacks on Leung, perhaps the most deadly self-inflicted blow to his political life was his revelation in a magazine interview that he had recommended Leung as chief executive material to a Xi aide.

"Dream Bear" Lew should have known that it's taboo in Chinese politics to implicate top leaders.

Fourth, it's clear Beijing is making efforts to pacify the camp that supported Tang in the chief executive election. While Tang had been tipped for some time for a spot on the CPPCC standing committee, it's now clear that tycoon Lee Shau-kee's eldest son, Peter Lee Ka-kit, and former Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce chairman Anthony Wu Ting-yuk will also join the select group.

Both were Tang supporters.

But, the most significant message is that Beijing is helping Leung heal the wounds suffered by the pro- establishment factions that backed different candidates in the election.

It also sends a message to Leung's side that it should make similar efforts.


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