Vice-President Zeng Qinghong approved 'Long Hair' Leung Kwok-hung's visit to the mainland to see his dying mother two years ago, sources close to Beijing have revealed.
Some pro-Beijing politicians believe the move explained the maverick legislator's relatively restrained protest at a banquet attended by the state leader nine days ago.
Mr Leung was given a one-off home return permit in October 2003 to visit Zengcheng, east of Guangzhou, to be with his 81-year-old mother in her final hours.
A source said: 'When Mr Zeng heard about Mr Leung's plight, the vice-president immediately ordered the Ministry of Public Security to let him visit his mother.'
On September 11, Mr Leung was thrown out of the banquet to which all 60 lawmakers had been invited to meet Mr Zeng after shouting democracy slogans as Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen was about to speak.
Mr Leung got his message out but spared the Mr Zeng the embarrassment that would have been caused by interrupting his speech. Mr Leung said he took an early opportunity to chant the slogans as he feared he might be removed when the vice-president spoke.
Mr Leung confirmed he had sought assistance in 2003 from then chief executive Tung Chee-hwa and pro-Beijing politicians, including Hong Kong deputy to the National People's Congress David Chu Yu-lin, for a visit to his home town.
'But I have no idea whether my visit was approved by Mr Zeng. Nobody told me about that,' Mr Leung said. 'If Mr Zeng really helped me, it is ridiculous that the country's No 5 person has to decide whether [I] can return to the mainland.'
Mr Chu confirmed that he had tried to help Mr Leung but declined to say whether the vice-president had approved the visit. 'I really cannot claim credit for anything.'
Meanwhile, Mr Leung said he would present Guangdong party secretary Zhang Dejiang with a Chinese translation of Leon Trotsky's The Revolution Betrayed during a tour to the Pearl River Delta on Sunday.