Called ‘aggressive’ and unsuitable to be Legco president, Andrew Leung says he will work with different parties if he gets top job

With victory all but certain, former house committee chair defends himself against critics and rival James To on radio show

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 October, 2016, 1:17pm
UPDATED : Friday, 07 October, 2016, 11:26pm

Responding to critics, Legislative Council presidential hopeful Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen said he would be willing to work with different parties if he won the race, even as a rival described him as “impatient,” “aggressive” and “not suitable for president.”

On Friday morning, the former Legco house committee chairman, who has been endorsed by the pro-establishment camp, appeared on a radio show with the democratic camp’s nominee for the legislature’s top job, James To Kun-sun.

To said that in the past, Leung, whose victory is all but certain due to his camp’s majority in the legislature, was impatient and aggressive when he chaired house committee and council meetings in the absence of former Legco president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing.

“Even within the pro-establishment camp, before they endorsed [Leung], some had doubts about him,” he said.

Earlier, independent legislator Paul Tse Wai-chun and New People’s Party lawmaker Michael Tien Puk-sun both indicated they were interested in running for Legco presidency but later pulled out of the race as most of the legislators in the camp supported Leung.

Both pro-establishment legislators had been critical of Leung’s suitability for the role, pointing out that since Leung’s seat was uncontested in the functional constituency, he lacked a mandate compared to those elected in a geographical constituency.

Questions were also raised as to whether Beijing’s liaison office had overstepped its boundaries and meddled in the Legco presidency race, after several pro-establishment legislators said the office had approached them to discuss potential candidates.

In response to To’s comments, Leung, the Business and Professional Alliance legislator, said he understood the perception others had of him.

“Sending people out of the meeting is a very serious matter because you are stripping [away] the rights of the legislator,” he said. “But there is a need to balance this with chairing the meeting, which is not an easy decision.”

Leung added that he hoped to communicate with all parties to ensure Legco meetings ran smoothly.

The new Legco will elect its head next Wednesday at its first meeting.

As the highest-ranking legislator, the Legco president decides agenda and approves lawmakers’ motions. In recent years, Tsang invoked his power to curb radical lawmakers’ attempts to filibuster bills and budgets.

On Tuesday, Cheung Chau resident Kwok Cheuk-kin filed for judicial review, questioning whether Leung was qualified to be the acting chair of council meetings in the previous Legco term since he then held a British passport.

According to Article 71 of the Basic Law, the Legco president should be “a permanent resident of the region with no right of abode in any foreign country”.

During the show, Leung stressed that he had met all the requirements to be house committee chairman, but did not say whether he had anticipated such problems when he ran for the post last term.

On whether he would consider voting if he became the president, Leung declined to give a definitive answer, saying it was hard to anticipate whether a situation which required him to do so might arise in the future.

Former Legco president Tsang had previously said he would not vote on government bills to maintain his neutrality in the role.

“I’ll think about it when it happens,” Leung said.