Lawyers hit out at Tung for saying Beijing decides

Local | Phoebe Ng 24 Feb 2017

A group of 30 lawyers on the Election Committee condemned former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa for saying Beijing may not appoint John Tsang Chun-wah even if he wins the chief executive race next month.

They said attempts to threaten any committee member over their exercise of nomination powers may be a criminal offense and is to be deplored. "Such action undermines the fairness of our chief executive election and shows a callous disregard for the aspirations to have free and fair elections," the lawyers said in a joint statement. Tung's interference is "ignorant and insensitive."

The legal subsector committee members who signed included the Civic Party's Alan Leong Kah-kit, Eric Cheung Tat-ming and the Democratic Party's Albert Ho Chun-yan.

Leong said the former chief executive - who is vice chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference - interfered with what is supposed to be a fair election and may have violated the Elections (Corrupt and Illegal Conduct) Ordinance.

"He better desist from repeating this kind of threat because he may open himself to committing a crime," he said. "My advice to Tung is for him to shut up, to do no more harm to Hong Kong."

Leong also said President Xi Jinping "should come out and say that it has never been the intention of the central people's government to interfere in any way."

Ho said it was irresponsible for Tung to have made such claims in his capacity as a political leader. "It was already unfair the way he said that, not to mention whether Tung breached the law," Ho said. "How would you know Beijing would not appoint a candidate? How could you say that?"

On Tuesday, Tung warned that Beijing may not appoint candidates they do not approve of - even if the contender wins the election in the 1,194-strong Election Committee on March 26 - in a private meeting with advisers of his think tank Our Hong Kong Foundation.

Tung neither admitted nor denied having made such comments in a statement. He "believed Hong Kong has reached a critical moment and needs a chief executive that is capable and has the commitment to lead the territory."

Tung said since the elected chief executive would have to be appointed by the central government, the candidate ought to be someone Beijing trusts.

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