‘Understandable’ for Beijing’s liaison office to be concerned about who becomes next Legco president, Andrew Leung says

Remarks yet another sign of pro-establishment camp’s readiness to acknowledge involvement of mainland Chinese officials in city’s politics

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 September, 2016, 3:55pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 September, 2016, 10:36pm

The man tipped to lead the Legislative Council said on Thursday that it was “understandable” for mainland officials to be concerned about who lands the job.

The remarks from Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen provided yet another signal of the pro-establishment camp’s readiness to acknowledge the involvement of the Beijing government liaison office in the city’s politics.

“As the central government’s office in Hong Kong, it is understandable that the liaison office is concerned about [who will become Legco president],” Leung said before a small-group meeting with major pro-Beijing parties.

The behind-the-scenes involvement by mainland officials has been criticised by pro-democracy politicians, who said the former had no role to play in the city’s political matters under the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s mini-constitution.

Thursday’s meeting focused on who would succeed Jasper Tsang Yok-sing as head of Legco. Leung, of the Business and Professionals Alliance, claimed he was the favourite among his pro-establishment allies, adding that he would seek their support next week.

This was despite his suitability for the legislature’s top job being questioned by rivals, who said his status as an unelected functional constituency lawmaker meant he lacked a mandate from the public.

Martin Liao Cheung-kong, the commerce lawmaker newly appointed as the convenor of the camp, said no choice had been made yet.

“It will be discussed in a general meeting of the 40 pro-establishment lawmakers on Monday,” he said.

The pro-democracy camp, with 30 lawmakers, will not be able to challenge the choice if the pro-establishment camp comes up with only one candidate.