Henry Tang tipped as city's leader
Gary Cheung and Ng Kang-chung
Long-time Beijing loyalist Ng Hong-mun has offered another insight into Hong Kong's next chief executive, saying Beijing prefers the new leader to be someone acceptable to 'big entrepreneurs' and who can work well with the civil servants.
He also hinted that Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen was the favourite to win the post next year.
The former local deputy to the National People's Congress made the disclosure yesterday in his weekly column in the Chinese-language Oriental Daily News.
Ng wrote that 'big entrepreneurs want to have someone who would listen to them and look after their interest ... and [civil servants] do not want to see a boss who is too harsh.'
He asked: 'So, we can try to think about it. Does Mr Tang meet these requirements better?'
According to the Basic Law, the chief executive is supposed to be chosen by an election committee in Hong Kong. But Ng wrote frankly that the real decision would be made by 'a few people' in Beijing.
In a separate interview with RTHK yesterday, Ng said Beijing should favour Tang. 'The popularity of Mr Tang is not very high,' Ng said, but Beijing did not necessarily have to give too much weight to public views.
He was quick to add, however, that the other two 'likely candidates' - former Legislative Council president Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai and Executive Council convenor Leung Chun-ying - still had a chance.
None of the three have confirmed they will run in next year's race.
Fan, a member of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, who has topped public opinion polls of likely candidates, has said Tang had an edge in terms of administrative experience and that she lacked economic knowledge.
Neither Fan nor Tang could be reached for comment yesterday. Leung's spokesman said he would not comment on Ng's remarks.
Ng's remarks followed those last week by Wang Guangya, director of State Council's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, who set three criteria for the chief executive: strong governing ability, wide public support, and patriotism.
Ng said Beijing should have formed 'some views' by now over who should be chief executive.
Ng has become more outspoken about the chief executive race since being granted a rare meeting with Premier Wen Jiabao in April. Ng said he told Wen it was important to find a chief executive who could maintain stability in Hong Kong.
Ng later put forward what he called a 'weird' idea of forming a 'dream team' comprising of Fan, Tang and Leung. Fan should be the chief executive, Tang the chief secretary and Leung the financial secretary, according to Ng.