Leung Chun-ying

Leung Chun-ying set to be elevated to vice-chairman of the CPPCC

City’s leader will become an elder statesman alongside first chief executive, Tung Chee-hwa

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 16 February, 2017, 8:33am
UPDATED : Thursday, 16 February, 2017, 10:19am

Outgoing chief executive Leung Chun-ying is expected to be elevated to the position of vice-chairman of China’s top advisory body next month, following his shock announcement in ­December that he would not seek a second term as Hong Kong’s leader, according to several well-placed sources.

That would raise the unpopular Leung, who cited family reasons for not running for the top job again, to the position of an elder statesman in the manner of the city’s first chief executive, Tung Chee-hwa, who currently enjoys the same status.

Leung will be nominated as a delegate to the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) at the two-day meeting of the Standing Committee on February 27 and 28. He will then be elected CPPCC vice-chairman at the closing ceremony of the ­advisory body.

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A source said it was very likely Leung would be elected CPPCC vice-chairman next month. “It shows Beijing’s high appreciation of Leung’s work in the past five years,” the source said, adding it was unprecedented for a chief ­executive to serve as CPPCC member or vice-chairman concurrently, but did not breach any laws or regulations.

“It makes sense for Leung to take up the vice-chairman position of the CPPCC. The idea has been floated for some time and it would be strange if that doesn’t happen,” a veteran Hong Kong delegate to the CPPCC said, on condition of anonymity.

The delegate said former chief executive Donald Tsang not being elected CPPCC vice-chairman after his tenure ended in 2012 was an exception, because he was embroiled in controversy surrounding allegations of misconduct.

After Leung made his stunning announcement that he was not seeking re-election, a statement from the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office said that the central government hoped he would continue to contribute to the city and country and was read by some as a strong hint that Beijing could arrange for him to join the CPPCC.

Currently, former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa, who is viewed as an elder statesman of Hong Kong, is the only CPPCC vice-chairman from the city.

Another source familiar with the matter said Tung, who resigned as chief executive in March 2005 citing health reasons, would remain as CPPCC vice-chairman after Leung joined.

In 1993, Hongkongers held two such posts. Tycoons Henry Fok Ying-tung and Ann Tse-kai were elected vice-chairmen of the nation’s top advisory body. Ann died in 2000 and Fok six years later.

“It would not pose any problem for Leung to become Hong Kong’s second vice-chairman in the CPPCC as there was a precedent for two Hongkongers in the post,” the veteran delegate said.