Give Anson Chan chance, say expats

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 June, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 14 June, 1996, 12:00am

Chief Secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang should be considered for the job of chief executive after the handover, leaders of the expatriate business community said yesterday.

But the heads of 17 overseas chambers of commerce made clear their reluctance to support any one candidate.

The chambers' leaders discussed the issue for the first time at a meeting at the Hong Kong Club.

They agreed with a proposal by chairman of the Hong Kong Austrian Association Dr Helmut Sohmen that a public debate start over who should get the job.

The meeting came after Dr Sohmen, son-in-law of the late shipping tycoon Sir Yue-kong Pao, sent a letter to chambers, backing Mrs Chan.

Former Executive Councillor and shipping tycoon Tung Chee-hwa is believed to be a frontrunner for the post, and solicitor and former Executive Councillor Lo Tak-shing has announced his intention to seek the position.

It has been suggested Mrs Chan would not be considered for the top job by Beijing because of her support for Governor Chris Patten's political reforms.

Dr Sohmen's spokesman, Manon Copini, said there was a consensus that she was respected and admired for her professionalism and should be considered for the post.

'But they [chamber leaders] feel that they are reluctant to support any one candidate in particular. They do not feel that they can at this point promote any one candidate,' Ms Copini said.

Matthew Cheng, vice-chairman of the Australian Chamber of Commerce, shared Dr Sohmen's concerns that there was a lack of public awareness of the necessary qualities for the top post.

But he said: 'We are not in a position to say which person is the best.' Among others attending yesterday's meeting were representatives of the American Chamber of Commerce, the British chambers of commerce, the Belgian Business Association and the Italian Business Association.