Rebel Chua applies to join C.Y's team
Colleen Lee, Peter So and Johnny Tam
Civic Party founder and welfare policy specialist Chua Hoi-wai is the latest pan-democrat revealed to have applied for a post in Leung Chun-ying's administration.
Word of his application, and resignation from the Civic Party, came as Democratic Party leaders called central committee member Andrew Fung Wai-kwong a traitor amid speculation that he had secretly applied to be an undersecretary.
A group of four young Democrats admitted on Tuesday that they had applied for political assistant posts in order to test the fairness of the recruitment exercise. They claimed they had no intention of joining the government.
With interviews to fill the 14 undersecretary posts in Leung's cabinet beginning yesterday, Civic Party leader Alan Leong Kah-kit disclosed that Chua, a business director of the Hong Kong Council of Social Service, had applied for one of the positions.
Chua, 48, said he had applied to be undersecretary for labour and welfare. 'I want to serve the grass-roots sector and the disadvantaged,' he said. Asked if he was worried that he might not make a difference inside the cabinet, he said: 'Whatever position I am in, I will try to do my best.'
Leong said: 'The stance of the Civic Party is that we have to monitor Leung Chun-ying's governance and our members cannot join the government. I received a notice from Chua Hoi-wai [yesterday] morning that he had applied for the undersecretary post and wanted to quit the party. I accepted [his resignation].'
Chua, who nominated Democratic Party leder Albert Ho Chun-yan to run for chief executive, surprised observers by appearing at Leung's 'thank you' party for supporters in April.
Last night Fung, who defended Leung's refusal to comment on the death of mainland pro-democracy activist Li Wangyang in an article in the Hong Kong Economic Times on Tuesday, would not confirm or deny speculation that he had applied to be an undersecretary. He said he would talk to the Democratic Party's central committee on Saturday after returning from Taiwan - where is due to fly tomorrow in connection with a court case against lawmaker Raymond Wong Yuk-man over an alleged assault in January.
In a phone text message, Fung told the South China Morning Post it was 'strange that people make harsh criticism without any fact or evidence'. 'I do not possess any sensitive or confidential information about [the Democratic Party]. How can I betray it?' he added.
However, Ho said Fung had betrayed the party's principle that members should not join the cabinet until the chief executive is elected by universal suffrage. 'If he wants to obtain political power, he should have joined other parties,' Ho said.
He said Fung could be expelled from the party after a disciplinary committee investigation and with the consent of two-thirds of central committee members.
Party member Lee Wing-tat said many colleagues were angry with Fung's decision. He vowed not to speak to him if he joined the government.
Seven of the 39 candidates selected for interview from about 300 applicants met a five-member panel led by Leung at the chief executive-elect's office in Central yesterday.
The candidates included psychiatrist and Kowloon City district councillor John Wong Yee-him, formerly a member of the Liberal Party.
Another person seen leaving the office was former administrative officer Shiu Lik-king, who quit the government in 2008.
Interviews will continue until Tuesday.