Leung Chun-ying’s elevation to elder statesman is ‘Beijing’s reward for handling Occupy protests’
Rita Fan says chief executive’s expected appointment to China’s top advisory body is proof leaders thought he had done well in resolving issue peacefully
Leung Chun-ying’s elevation to vice-chairman of China’s top advisory body is not a “consolation prize” for the outgoing chief executive but Beijing’s appreciation of his achievement in handling the Occupy protests, Hong Kong’s sole representative on the nation’s top legislature says.
Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai, a member of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, said mainland officials thought Leung deserved the post of vice-chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).
“The CPPCC vice-chairmanship is a post in mainland China. If Hong Kong people don’t like him, it doesn’t really matter because that’s a post in China. And in China, many people like him,” Fan said during a recent interview with the South China Morning Post.
She said it might be unprecedented for the chief executive to serve as CPPCC vice-chairman at the same time but it was “not that odd”.
Leung’s expected appointment was proof that the central government thought he had done a good job during the civil disobedient movement in 2014, she said.
“People who have the power and are putting Mr Leung into that post believe he deserves it,” Fan said.
“Try to put yourself in the shoes of the central authorities: here is a person who has done a very good job in a very difficult situation. He was determined and eventually the matter was resolved in a peaceful manner. And now he has decided not to seek another term, and therefore we have to show to people we appreciate what he has done.”
Leung’s term as chief executive ends on June 30 and he decided not to stand for re-election for family reasons.
Asked if it was a consolation prize for Leung, Fan replied: “What a consolation! I’d love to have such a consolation prize.”
Leung is expected to be elected vice-chairman at the closing of the CPPCC’s annual session on March 13, which would effectively make him an elder statesman.
Fan, who has been a critic of Leung’s governing style, backed his rival Henry Tang Ying-yen in the 2012 chief executive election.
But she praised Leung for having done a good job in boosting land supply and said the next administration should carry on the policy. However, she said the chief executive was not a person who was willing to accept his own mistakes.
“I haven’t heard him saying this is something I didn’t do too well. It’s always that he has done a very good job,” she said.
“On matters of principle, you must stand firm. But in order to get things done, we should try every possible method, including humbling yourself and putting aside your superiority.”
On the future of “one country, two systems” – Hong Kong’s guarantee of its freedoms – after its 50-year lifespan expires in 2047, Fan said she did not think Hongkongers should start discussions now nor even in 2030.
“We have to wait, maybe 10 years before 2047 to start discussing the matter,” she said.
“If we keep on quarrelling among ourselves, then there is every chance they [the mainland] will overtake us [in living standards]. Maybe by that time, Hong Kong people would say we would rather go back [to the mainland] and enjoy the social benefits that they are having.”