'Get more liberals' to join Exco
Olga Wong and Joyce Ng
More liberal-minded people should be invited to join the Executive Council, businessman and social welfare advocate Bernard Chan said after rejoining the government's top advisory body yesterday.
Critics pointed out that the 29-seat council - which has 15 official members, including the chief secretary and ministers, and 14 non-official ones - lacks pan-democratic members.
Half of the non-official members are seen as friendly to Beijing, as members of either the National People's Congress or delegates to the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.
Chan said appointing more liberal figures to the body would clear doubts about Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's sincerity to engage the wider community.
'Given [that] the public are sceptical of him, it will do him good to invite more liberal-minded people [in the coming months],' Chan told the South China Morning Post after the first meeting yesterday of the new Executive Council.
'Having said that, it is impossible to invite the opposition, as they are not going to agree with you anyway.'
Leung has indicated that more lawmakers will be appointed to Exco after the Legislative Council election in September.
One legislator, Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee of the New People's Party, said she agreed to join Exco after Leung invited her in May, but she was glaringly absent from last week's list.
The Democratic Party and Civic Party have hinted that they would not take seats in the council, as they saw it as Leung's 'cabinet'.
Ip refused to speculate whether she had been snubbed because of her decision to abstain in a Legco vote on whether to expedite Leung's plans for a government restructuring.
Asked if Ip would still make a good addition to Exco, should more legislators be invited, Chan said: 'At the end of the day, the selected person should be a team player and follow the council's practice.'
In his interview with the Post, Chan defended the new Exco appointees, saying they were not merely pro-Beijing conservatives. 'They are just pretty pragmatic ... I think everyone wants to get things done.'
Chan, who was on the street to watch the July 1 rally for the first time on Sunday, said he considered himself a liberal, along with the likes of former Equal Opportunities Commission chief Anna Wu Hung-yuk and former anti-graft chief Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun - both on Exco.
'I hope this combination will show our determination to deliver the changes proposed in Leung's election platform,' he said.
Chan said he hoped the non-official members, who were usually informed of a policy at the last minute, could 'have a certain level of participation in policymaking'.