No regrets says defiant Tien

Top News | Eddie Luk, Kenneth Lau and Mary AnnBenitez 30 Oct 2014

"Bad boy" James Tien Pei-chun resigned as Liberal Party leader hours after he was kicked out of China's top political advisory body for urging Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying to consider resigning.

And signaling an end to his political career, Tien said in Hong Kong yesterday that he will not seek re-election in the 2016 Legislative Council election.

But Tien remained defiant and said he would not retract his words urging Leung to think about quitting.

Earlier in the day in Beijing, 267 members of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference Standing Committee voted to strip Tien of his membership on the CPPCC National Committee, with only two against and three abstaining.

CPPCC chairman Yu Zhengsheng told the meeting that it was the first time someone had lost his membership based on Article 29 of its charter, which stipulates that members can be expelled if their acts are in violation of a conference resolution.

In March this year, the CPPCC passed a resolution in support of the SAR government and Leung to govern Hong Kong based on the rule of law.

Tien said: "The fact that I urged Chief Executive CY to resign because Hong Kong is getting ungovernable is certainly, according to Article 29 [of the CPPCC charter], incorrect. I accept their decision."

The 67-year-old, who has been on the CPPCC for 17 years, admitted that he made the remarks "maybe because I have been staying in Hong Kong for many years. I am only aware that I am a lawmaker and Liberal Party leader. I have neglected the title of CPCCC member. This is my fault."

But Tien said he would not retract his remarks.

"These days, the situation remains unchanged. Filibusters continue, counting lawmaker numbers for meeting quorums continues.

"There are still many people in Admiralty. I think [when I made the comment] at that time I had sufficient evidence. The situation has not changed, certainly. I will not take my words back."

But he said he was surprised by the swift Beijing reaction to his remarks, made last Friday when he asked Leung to consider resigning following the political impasse over Occupy Central and the 2017 political reform.

"I had never thought that leaders in Beijing were very concerned about the issue on Saturday and Sunday. On Monday, they made the decision," Tien said. "At about 9pm on Monday, I was told the decision and I was the first one to know that. My party colleagues also knew the decision at 10pm."

Tien said he did not think Leung and former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa, who is also CPPCC vice chairman, had been involved.

"Tung is a kind person. I can't see CY having the prestige or ability to call the central government to do so," he said.

The CPPCC expulsion was for him an "early retirement" as he had originally decided to retire in 2016.

He also suggested Leung should go to the Admiralty protest zone. "He may gain support and ease the atmosphere," said Tien.

"If Leung could solve all the problems in a fast, harmonious and non- violent way, I will be the first one to raise my hands, or even my feet, to support him."

His brother, lawmaker and New People's Party vice chairman Michael Tien Puk-sun, told The Standard last night: "I don't feel good about it. On the other hand, I suspect that he [James] had a hunch this may come because it is about one country, two systems and the appointment to the CPPCC is a more or less one-country affair."

"My understanding on CPPCC is you could criticize the government and air your views before a resolution is passed.

"Once the resolution is passed by the conference, everybody is expected to toe the line. You may not need to stand very far up front but at least you are not expected to take an opposite stand."

Michael Tien said he was called to a meeting by the Liaison Office on Tuesday and he asked whether the central government would no longer treat James as a pro-establishment figure.

"They said no, they would not treat him as opposition. `We will treat him as pro-establishment, who is loyal to Beijing,' except in this particular case. They had to make that decision because it is a CPPCC internal affair."

A Liberal Party meeting last night accepted James Tien's decision to resign from the party's top post.

CPPCC Standing Committee member Henry Tang Ying-yen said members should make suggestions in a "positive manner."

CPPCC member Tam Yiu-chung, who is also chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said Beijing's decision was reasonable.

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