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Legislative Council elections 2016

Michael Tien pushes for pro-establishment ballot on president

Legislator challenging Andrew Leung to be bloc’s pick to replace outgoing Jasper Tsang

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 02 October, 2016, 1:29pm
UPDATED : Monday, 03 October, 2016, 12:24pm

Lawmaker Michael Tien Puk-sun has made a last-ditch effort to convince pro-establishment ­allies to choose their pick for Legislative Council president by a ­secret ballot, before nominations close on Wednesday.

Tien, of the New People’s Party, hoped to challenge veteran Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen of the Business and Professionals ­Alliance, who is tipped to succeed outgoing president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing, purportedly with the blessing of the central government’s liaison office in the city.

Tien spoke ahead of the bloc’s meeting on Monday, where they will ­decide who to endorse to take on the pro-democracy camp’s pick, James To Kun-sun of the Democratic Party.

Tien claimed a number of young and newly elected legislators had expressed support for him, but could do nothing as their parties had backed Leung instead.

How Hong Kong’s Legislative Council chooses its leader

“I am fighting for a primary where all [pro-establishment] lawmakers can show their preference via secret ballots,” Tien told TVB programme On the Record on Sunday. “I think it would be a good thing for the unity of the ­pro-establishment bloc too.”

The primary he proposed would quash the perception, he said, that mainland authorities had meddled in city affairs, particularly the Legco presidency.

He added that ending that ­impression would improve the camp’s image. Tien planned last-minute lobbying at the meeting, but said he was pessimistic about the chances of the primary, or of a consensus.

He said he would give up his bid if he failed at the meeting, and would vote for Leung to avoid splitting the vote and letting a pro-democracy candidate win.

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

But Tien, who was returned in the New Territories West, said again that the tradition of having a directly elected lawmaker chair the legislature should be upheld, as the president should be ­accountable to voters. Unlike ­former presidents, Leung has been uncontested in his ­Industrial (first) seat since 2004.

And order in the chamber might deteriorate under Leung, Tien said. “Those who back him would have to consider the outcome of such a situation,” he said.

Beijing-friendly independent Paul Tse Wai-chun, who had allied himself with Tien against Leung, dropped his bid last week.