Beijing won't pick next CE, says Tsang

Local | Carain Yeung 7 Jul 2016

The next chief executive will not be handpicked by Beijing though he or she will be a candidate recognized by the central government, according to Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing.

Tsang had hinted at such an arrangement in an newspaper column last month but in an iCable interview yesterday, he said he had been told this during a conversation with a senior mainland official.

"Regardless of whether it's true or not, many people believed that Mr Tang [Henry Tang Ying-yen] was Beijing's choice at the last election," Tsang said.

"But it turned out he wasn't and many people couldn't switch around."

Tsang said all candidates will be able to compete fairly, given that the central authorities recognize them.

While it is believed that incumbent Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying will seek another term, there has been speculation that Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah could also run for the top job.

Tsang said it would be okay for one top official to take part but it could be problematic if two joined the race.

"If both the chief secretary and financial secretary quit their posts to take part in the election, it will make governance more difficult, though this is not prohibited."

The 69-year-old pro-Beijing heavyweight had previously insisted he was too old to take on the duties of a chief executive but when asked again yesterday if he will run for the post, Tsang told the public to "wait and see," adding that no one will know the answer until the very last moment.

The veteran Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong lawmaker will retire from position as his Legco president - which he has held since 2008 - when his term expires in September.

Asked if he would consider other posts, such as Executive Council convener, Tsang said it will depend on who the chief executive will be.

"I won't force it by saying I want to be the Exco convener now. Well maybe some people will do it this way but I won't," Tsang said.

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