New cabinet members will broaden opinion in Hong Kong’s Executive Council, Leung Chun-ying says
City’s leader dismisses suggestion that appointment of Tommy Cheung and Martin Liao lays groundwork for a re-election bid
Hong Kong’s top official said he added two more pro-establishment lawmakers into his cabinet to gauge “opinion from more parties” before making policy decisions, dismissing suggestions that he had appointed the pair to lay the groundwork for seeking a second term as chief executive.
Leung Chun-ying was speaking a day after naming Liberal Party chairman Tommy Cheung Yu-yan and Martin Liao Cheung-kong, convenor of the Legislative Council’s pro-establishment camp, as executive councillors.
Analysts interpreted the move as an attempt by Leung to improve relations with the legislature and show Beijing he can forge a working alliance with a fractured pro-establishment camp, including those who have been openly hostile towards him.
Yet, asked if he appointed the pair to consolidate his political support base ahead of the city’s leadership race next month, Leung said: “It’s not about me, it’s about society. We hope that in Exco’s weekly meetings, we can have more opinion from different groups, so that we, and myself as the chief executive, can do a good job in decision-making.
“In the future, we could invite even more friends from the pro-establishment and non-establishment camp to work with me and the government in Exco or statutory or advisory bodies.”
Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah is expected to inform Beijing officials during his four-day trip to the capital starting on Sunday of his intention to resign to pave the way to run for chief executive.
Leung declined to comment on whether his financial minister’s plan would affect his possible re-election bid.
The appointment of the Liberal Party chief sparked speculation that Leung was trying to split the rebellious pro-business bloc, because its former leader and party linchpin, James Tien Pei-chun, had publicly indicated the Liberals would support the so-called “ABC” – “anyone but CY [Leung]” – drive in the chief executive election.
Tien called on Cheung to quit as party chair as he had failed to inform him and leading members about the move.
But speaking on TVB’s On The Record on Saturday morning, Cheung said he would not step down. “I did not take up the chairmanship because I have nothing to do ... I did it because the party needs me,” he said.
Meanwhile, Leung was publicly abused with the “F” word by a teenager during a sharing session organised by the Commission on Youth on Saturday.
The youngster, who was among those picked to ask questions, accused Leung’s administration of suppressing people’s participation in social movements such as Occupy Central.
He then became emotional. “I just can’t resist any more. I am so sorry ...” he said, before shouting the “F” word at the chief executive.
Leung did not directly respond to the bad language but said Hong Kong police intervened in protests far less than happened abroad.
“The situation should not be overgeneralised. Hong Kong police have been very restrained,” he said.
Leung added that he encouraged young people to use any means to express their ideas – as long as it was legal.
When asked by a female student if he would consider enabling the comment section of his Facebook page as a platform for youngsters to voice their opinions, Leung said he would like to do so “if people could express their opinions rationally”.
But he questioned the value of the “simple” responses on social media.
“Even a post of me visiting elderly homes was given thousands of angry faces … I don’t think these kind of activities have much reference value.”