Party politics only way forward, says former Exco chief

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 07 October, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 07 October, 2010, 12:00am

Former executive council convenor Chung Sze-yuen has hit out at the way the government appointed undersecretaries and political assistants. He describes them as a 'ragtag group' who have failed to help the chief executive improve governance.

In a rare media interview since he published his memoirs in 2001, the 93-year-old said on the RTHK television programme Legco Review that Hong Kong could only attain real democracy by introducing party politics, under which the chief executive came from a ruling political party.

'There is no help. They are a ragtag group and are unorganised. The chief executive should come from a political party, with a team to study with him the way to rule the region before assuming office,' Chung said when asked about the two tiers of political appointees, which were introduced two years ago.

Cheung, who in 1984 led a team of unofficial members of the executive and legislative councils to meet then Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, said he believed the central government's opposition was a major reason for the lack of party politics in the city.

Citing delays in construction of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge, Chung, who served as the first convenor of the post-handover Exco, said the lack of party support for the chief executive had been an obstacle to the implementation of initiatives.

'In my understanding, the project was dragged on for years because of internal disagreements within the government. Even [first chief executive] Tung Chee-hwa agreed to the construction, but could not help.'

The programme also revealed that Chung had played a role in pushing forward passage of the 2012 constitutional reform package in June.

The host, veteran former local politician Allen Lee Peng-fei, said Chung had 'done something', including calling Basic Law Committee vice-chairwoman Elsie Leung Oi-sie, as part of his efforts in promoting the passing of the resolutions by the legislature. Lee did not elaborate.

Leung was a go-between for the groundbreaking negotiations between the central government's liaison office and the Democratic Party, which were key to the ultimate passage of the proposals under which 10 seats will be added to Legco in 2012. She could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Cheung Man-kwong, a Democratic Party legislator who took part in the talks with the liaison office, said his party had no contact with Chung and he was not aware of any role Chung had played on reform. 'But I would not be surprised if he did. Many people had contributed to the passage of the package,' he said.

The interview, titled Reminiscences on Politics, will be shown on TVB Jade in more than 10 parts on Thursday nights starting today.