Leung Chun Ying

Rita Fan rules out bid for top job

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 14 November, 2011, 12:00am


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Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai will not seek to become the next chief executive. After six months of hesitation, the former Legco president finally announced yesterday she would not contest for the top job.

The Beijing loyalist cited her age as the reason. 'I have little confidence that I could handle the heavy burden of being chief executive till 2017,' she said. 'I am already 66.'

A member of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, Fan repeatedly denied the central government had put pressure on her not to join the race.

'This is purely a personal decision. Beijing has never dissuaded me,' she said.

Commenting on former chief secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen and Leung Chun-ying, the former Executive Council convenor, the two undeclared front runners, Fan acknowledged she once supported Tang.

She said she must now consider their policy platforms and performance to decide who to support.

Fan's support for Tang has cooled since he admitted he committed extramarital indiscretion. 'I had promised to support Tang to strive for chief executive candidacy back in late 2009, and I have fulfilled my promise and done that openly,' she said.

'From now on, I would have to look at their [Tang's and Leung's] manifestos, forum performance, governing visions and teams before deciding who to vote for.'

Widely criticised for her coyness about her intention to run, Fan admitted she paid the price with a drop in popularity ratings.

'Some residents expressed disappointment after I showed support for Tang, so I said I might also join the race,' she said. 'This contradictory stance has led to a plunge in my popularity ratings and I paid the price for it.'

In opinion polls conducted in July, Fan was ahead of Tang and Leung, but a poll commissioned by the South China Morning Post last month found her lagging behind Leung by 10 percentage points.

Meanwhile, New People's Party chairwoman Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, another possible chief executive contender, said she would consult party members meeting tomorrow to determine whether she had enough support to join the race.