Pro-Beijing party showing cracks in leadership as vice-chairman criticises Regina Ip’s ‘conflicting’ roles

Michael Tien of New People’s Party says party boss’ post in the Executive Council at odds with her being an elected legislator

PUBLISHED : Monday, 10 October, 2016, 8:18am
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 December, 2016, 9:45am

A leadership brouhaha appears to be brewing in the pro-government New People’s Party (NPP), with its vice-chairman Michael Tien voicing his discontent publicly over his party boss’ post in the Executive Council.

Tien said that there was a possible conflict of interest for Regina Ip – as an executive councillor, she has to support government policies, and at the same time, as an elected legislator, she also has to take on the role of a government watchdog.

“People may be confused. Who does the New People’s Party represent? Is it a government party or what?” Tien asked.

Key post in Hong Kong’s Legislative Council not for me, Regina Ip says

“It is a problem for the long-term development of the party,” he told the South China Morning Post on Sunday.

Ip was appointed to the Executive Council – Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s cabinet – in 2012. At that time, she was already the chairwoman of the New People’s Party.

Tien said that this had always been his view and that he had no intention of targeting Ip, who he said was aware of his stance over the issue.

Democratic Alliance for Betterment and Progress of Hongkong (DAB) chairman Starry Lee was an executive councillor but she quit earlier this year – a year after she became the party chairman, citing the need to allocate more time for party affairs.

Ip said that she disagreed with Tien that a party leader’s Exco membership curbs the development of a party.

“All pro-establishment parties have had leading members sitting in Exco. Exco membership helps a party expand its influence on the government, and improves party members’ access to the senior echelon of government,” she said.

Ip also noted that Tien might be upset that she did not support his call to use “secret ballots” for the nomination of the pro-establishment camp’s candidate for the Legco president post.

The camp eventually endorsed Andrew Leung Kwan-Yuen, chairman of the Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong, to take on the pan-democratic camp’s representative James To Kun-sun in the election to be held on Wednesday.

“We never discussed this proposal within the NPP. Such a nomination by “secret ballot” would be a radical departure from well-established practices, and needs to be thoroughly debated within the pro-establishment camp before it could be adopted.”

She said that such a debate was not possible as only around 27 legislators from the pro-establishment camp were present at the meeting last Monday.

Ip was one of the pro-establishment lawmakers who seconded Leung to contest the Legco presidency.

Tien would not comment on whether he and Ip would part ways, but admitted that they seldom talked to each other because both were very busy.