Front runners spar over affairs office criticism

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 02 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 02 August, 2011, 12:00am

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The race for chief executive has intensified after top Beijing official Wang Guangya criticised Hong Kong's civil servants, with two likely candidates sparring yesterday over his comments

Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai, a member of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, rejected Leung Chun-ying's interpretation of Wang's remarks.

Earlier, the chairman of the Urban Renewal Authority, Barry Cheung Chun-yuen, became the first public figure to openly express support for Leung to take the top job.

Wang, director of the State Council's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, said last Tuesday that colonial rule had trained civil servants to 'listen to the boss' and that they 'don't know how to be a boss' after the handover.

Leung, convenor of the Executive Council, rejected suggestions that Wang's remarks were aimed at Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, a former civil servant, but Fan disagreed yesterday. 'It wouldn't be surprising if Wang's words were directed at the chief executive, as he used to be a civil servant,' said Fan, a former Legislative Council president. 'But Tsang does not need to be nervous or concerned; he can just listen and reflect on the remarks.'

Fan also took a swipe at Leung's frequent criticism of government policies - widely seen as his platform for the chief executive contest.

'If somebody is to put forward his political platform, he should give the whole set altogether, instead of leaking it bit by bit,' Fan said. 'The fact that you cannot see [my views on policies] does not mean I have no plan in my heart.'

She was responding to Cheung, who called on the other would-be chief executive candidates - widely understood to be Fan and Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen - to state their policy viewpoints as he came out in support of Leung.

'Among the likely candidates that media have named so far, we can see Leung Chun-ying having made a lot of suggestions on those issues. I very much agree with his analyses and recommendations on policies,' Cheung said yesterday at an Urban Renewal Authority lunch.

'I hope the other suspected candidates will also state their opinions on these topics as soon as possible for Hong Kong people to consider, for these are what people care about most.'

When asked whether he found Leung a suitable chief executive candidate, Cheung replied: 'He is a very suitable candidate.'

He went on to say Leung had a 'good understanding on issues like housing, transport, the wide wealth gap', and had 'the heart, ability and energy to solve problems'. These were the qualities Cheung saw as necessary for the chief executive.

Cheung's acquaintance with Leung stretches back over a decade ago, when both served as a directors of the Land Development Corporation, predecessor of the URA.