Beijing's point man ducks the iron triangle
Fanny W. Y. Fung and Adrian Wan
Wang Guangya appeared for a brief moment yesterday to have handed the media the story of the year. Alas, it was not to be.
While going into a youth forum in Chai Wan, a reporter asked the Hong Kong and Macau affairs chief what he thought about the so-called iron triangle. 'Quite good,' Wang replied.
The question was a reference to a proposal by veteran Beijing loyalist Ng Hong-mun. Under it, Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai, now a member of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, would be the next chief executive, Henry Tang Ying-yen would be chief secretary for another five years and Leung Chun-ying, the current Executive Council convenor, would become financial secretary.
But lest people thought Beijing was finally laying down its preference for the next chief executive, Wang caught himself.
'Which one is best?' the reporter asked again.
Wang, now alert to the danger, replied with a joke.
'Iron triangle? It is too early to talk about this,' he said. 'It still isn't clear who the 'iron triangle' consists of. There are different iron triangles,' he said, laughing as he walked away.
There ended one fleeting moment of an unscripted Wang, who was in the second of a three-day official visit, the first he made since taking up his job in October.
Wang visited the Monetary Authority in the morning, held a top-level luncheon with the city's luminaries and gave young people a seminar in the afternoon.
The talk about an 'iron triangle' gained attention after Ng, a former deputy to the National People's Congress, made the proposal, but it was unclear how serious he was.
He has stressed that it was one of his 'weird opinions' aimed at facilitating debate, as Beijing had yet to make up its mind on who should get the top job.
At a luncheon hosted by the Hong Kong government with about 150 guests, all three unofficial candidates were at the head table with Wang.
Influential figures from the political arena, many sitting on the Election Committee, were on the guest list. Among them were the Legislative Council's president, Tsang Yok-sing, and chairmen and deputy chairmen of its panels and standing committees. Democratic Party vice-chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing seized the opportunity when Wang made a toast at her table to hand him a letter from her party, urging the central government to legislate on a roadmap for Hong Kong to introduce universal suffrage.
A number of property tycoons also appeared at the luncheon.