Rita Fan wins in NPC, mulls Legco resignation

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 16 March, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 16 March, 2008, 12:00am

Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai will consult lawmakers on whether she should resign from her post of Legislative Council president following her election yesterday as a member of the National People's Congress Standing Committee.

Mrs Fan was elected to the top legislative body with 2,896 out of 2,948 votes - the ninth highest number of votes among 173 candidates from around the country. She clinched even more votes than NPC deputy secretary-general Qiao Xiaoyang , who had the backing of 2,891 deputies and was ranked 11th.

Gao Siren , director of the central government's liaison office in Hong Kong, was also elected to the Standing Committee. Mr Gao, an NPC deputy from Guangdong province, won 2,861 votes.

'I am very grateful to those who voted for me,' Mrs Fan said. 'I hope to work hard and use my new position to act as a bridge between the two places.

'Ties between Hong Kong and the mainland are becoming closer. Many Hongkongers live or conduct business on the mainland, and NPC deputies have a responsibility to truly reflect their difficulties and views.'

Mrs Fan said she would remain silent on Hong Kong political issues until her term as Legco president ended. 'I will speak afterwards. But it has always been my style to listen to others first before I express my own opinion.'

Mrs Fan, who announced last year that she would not seek re-election to Legco, said she would fully dedicate herself to the Standing Committee's work after the current Legco session ends in mid-July.

However, she said yesterday that she would ask local legislators whether she should resign as Legco chief.

'My next step is to issue a letter to all 59 legislators as soon as possible and consult every one of them on whether I should continue my work as the president or to resign... I should respect the opinions of the majority of legislators,' she said.

Tam Yiu-chung, chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong and a local delegate to the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, welcomed Mrs Fan's election to the Standing Committee.

He said he believed the high number of votes she secured indicated her popularity on the mainland.

Democratic Party chairman Albert Ho Chun-yan and Civic Party leader Audrey Eu Yuet-mee said that although Mrs Fan's post in the Standing Committee might conflict with her role as Legco president, they had no plans to demand her replacement since the current Legco session had only four more months to go.

Meanwhile, Macau's member on the Standing Committee, Ho Iat-seng, was re-elected for a third term with 2,900 votes.