CY steps up to higher power

Top News | Phoenix Un 14 Mar 2017

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has become a state leader with his election to a vice-chairmanship of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

The CPPCC closed its annual plenary session yesterday with Leung, who was already a deputy, ending in a first-row position on the stage.

It is the first time a sitting Hong Kong chief executive has been named a state leader.

The first item of business yesterday was to approve a new vice-chairman, and from 2,101 deputies there were 2,066 votes - 98 percent - for Leung's appointment against 13 objections and 16 abstentions.

The CPPCC now has two vice- chairmen from Hong Kong among 22 of that rank. The other is former SAR chief executive Tung Chee-hwa.

He and former Macau chief executive Edmund Ho Hau-wah were elected vice-chairmen after they stepped down.

Tung was elected a vice-chairman in 2005 with 2,065 supporting votes, 21 objections and 20 abstentions.

The last time Hong Kong had two CPPCC vice chairmen at the same time was in 1990s with Ann Tse-kai and Henry Fok Ying-tung.

With Leung elected one of the vice chairmen of the 12th CPPCC, he went to the stage and bowed towards others already there in leading positions and to the audience to express gratitude.

Then he shook hands with fellow vice-chairmen Liu Xiaofeng and Chen Xiaoguang and sat on the right side of the first row on the stage beside Liu in front of the CPPCC Standing Committee members.

After chairman Yu Zhengsheng announced the close of the plenary session, President Xi Jinping went over and shook hands with Leung.

Xi and Leung talked briefly - for about 40 seconds - before Premier Li Keqiang also went across to shake hands with Leung.

Leung said later he was "very happy and honored" to be elected after contributing to the country's development for three or four decades.

He said Xi encouraged him to continue to serve the country and Hong Kong during their brief chat.

And Leung said he saw no conflicts between the posts of chief executive and CPPCC vice-chairman.

"We shouldn't put Hong Kong officials, including the chief executive, and posts on the national level on opposite sides," Leung said.

Although he gave up re-election as chief executive for family reasons, Leung said, the CPPCC vice- chairmanship did not offer any conflicts with his family.

"It's impossible for me to look after my family, finish my tasks as chief executive and campaign for several months at the same time," he said. "However, after July 1 I can handle my family and the CPPCC vice- chairmanship."

But the time overlap is short, he noted, so he may need to take leave for some work for the CPPCC before July 1. CPPCC Standing Committee member Charles Ho Tsu-kwok said Leung worked hard in alleviating poverty and housing issues, and did not engage in public-private collusion.

"Some real estate developers told me that they welcomed Leung as the chief executive because after he assumed the office they earned a lot of money," he said. "However, Leung had no public-private collusion."

Ho said he did not understand why people raised questions about conflicts of interest, saying the central government was not worried, remarking: "The emperor is not anxious about it but the eunuch is."

Another delegate, Lam Tai-fai, said the overlap of Leung's two posts was only for a short period and there would be no problem if time was managed efficiently.

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