Henry Tang appointed to China's top advisory body
Nomination of defeated election candidate and other business leaders to top advisory body is seen as gesture of reconciliation by Beijing
Gary Cheung, Colleen Lee and Phoenix Kwong in Beijing
Beijing has appointed Henry Tang Ying-yen to the nation's top advisory body, along with high-profile business leaders who refused to support Leung Chun-ying in last year's chief executive race against Tang.
The appointments to the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) are an apparent attempt to unite the pro-establishment camp. However, Donald Tsang Yam-kuen was absent from the list of delegates - even though his predecessor as chief executive was made vice-chairman of the CPPCC after quitting prematurely in 2005, a position he still holds.
Meanwhile, Lew Mon-hung, who recently launched a scathing attack on Leung, is losing his CPPCC seat.
The list of new delegates, who will begin their five-year terms on the national body in March, also excludes Liao Hui, former director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, which means he will lose his position as a CPPCC vice-chairman.
Tang, Hospital Authority chairman Anthony Wu Ting-yuk and Peter Lee Ka-kit, son of Henderson Land Development chairman Lee Shau-kee, all made the list which included more than 200 people from various sectors in Hong Kong.
Both Wu and Lee backed Tang in the nomination process at the start of the chief executive campaign last March. Wu, Lee and Tang are now being widely tipped to be elected as members of the CPPCC standing committee next month.
Jonathan Choi Koon-shum, former chairman of the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce, is also expected to be elected a standing committee member.
While Choi did not nominate any of the chief executive candidates, most of the 18 Election Committee members from his chamber nominated Tang.
Veteran China-watcher Ching Cheong said: "It is plausible that Beijing is using the appointments to pacify supporters of both Tang and Leung."
Ching said it was understood that after Tang's defeat in March last year, he was assured by Beijing that he would be "treated decently", politically speaking.
Outgoing CPPCC delegate Lee Kok-keung attributed Tang's appointment to Beijing's intention to balance out and pacify different political forces.
Tung Chee-hwa, Hong Kong's first chief executive, is keeping his CPPCC vice-chairmanship. He remains a key figure in helping Beijing improve US ties as chairman of the China-United States Exchange Foundation.
Being dropped from the list of delegates though is Walter Kwok Ping-sheung, the ousted Sun Hung Kai Properties chairman and an incumbent CPPCC standing committee member.
Kwok was arrested by ICAC investigators and released on bail in May last year. His brothers Thomas Kwok Ping-kwong and Raymond Kwok Ping-luen are facing trial for bribery.
Given Peter Lee's expected election to the standing committee, Sun Hung Kai Properties are set to be the only one out of the four major property developers without a representative on the committee.
Henry Cheng Kar-shun, chairman of New World Development, and Cheung Kong (Holdings) vice-chairman Victor Li Tzar-kuoi are current standing committee members and have been given new five-year terms.
Asked if Lee's appointment signalled the rising influence of his family, Ching Cheong said: "Beijing has long been trying to balance and cater for the interests of different big enterprises."
The absence of Asia Television major investor Wong Ching, who has served as a delegate since 2003, is also conspicuous.
The Communications Authority launched an investigation after it received a complaint in June 2011 against the troubled station, which was later fined a record HK$300,000 for falsely reporting the death of ex-president Jiang Zemin .
THE INS AND OUTS
ON THE CPPCC DELEGATE LIST
Tung Chee-hwa*, former chief executive
Henry Tang Ying-yen
Timothy Tong Hin-ming, former ICAC commissioner Anthony Wu Ting-yuk*
Hospital Authority chairman Peter Lee Ka-kit*
Selina Chow Liang Shuk-yee*
Jonathan Choi Koon-shum*
Tang King-shing, former police commissioner
Donald Tsang Yam-kuen
Rafael Hui Si-yan*
Walter Kwok Ping-sheung*
Barry Cheung Chun-yuen, Executive Councillor *incumbent members
Sources: CPPCC standing committee member Chan Wing-kee, among others