From bellboy to powerful leading man

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 03 October, 2016, 5:52pm

Cheng Yiu-tong, viewed as a kingpin of the Beijing-friendly Federation of Trade Unions for more than two decades, will stand down as president next year.

The 60-year-old veteran unionist said he had told other federation leaders he intended to retire from the union leadership when his current term expired.

'It's not fair for any person to hold on to leading positions endlessly in an organisation. I believe it's high time to groom new blood for our union,' Mr Cheng said.

He said it was up to the federation and the government to decide whether he should stay on the Executive Council after he stood down as federation president.

The federation is scheduled to elect its new leadership at its general members' meeting in April next year.

Mr Cheng declined to say whether he would stay on as president if lobbied to do so by other federation leaders.

He was elected federation vice-chairman in 1974 and served as chairman from 1986 to 2000, when he became president.

Mr Cheng, who is also a Hong Kong deputy to the National People's Congress, said that after he retired from the federation he would like to focus on affairs which he did not have time to handle in the past.

Federation chairman Wong Kwok-kin said they had not formally discussed Mr Cheng's intention to retire.

'It's natural for older leaders to quit leading positions to make way for younger leaders,' he said.

Mr Cheng, known as a moderate in the Beijing-friendly camp in Hong Kong, abstained in voting for the re-election in 1993 of the then premier Li Peng, a controversial figure because of his role in the June 4, 1989 crackdown on the democracy movement on the mainland.

Mr Cheng, who started work at the age of 14 as a bellboy at the Gloucester Hotel in Central, has been an NPC deputy since 1988.