Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying must live up to his promise of reconciliation and take advice from the city's various factions, or Beijing could lose its patience with him, the Liberal Party's new chairwoman Selina Chow Liang Shuk-yee says.
Chow also suggested that yesterday's public rally, with protesters calling for Leung to step down, would have been "alarming" for the city's leader.
A lawmaker for 23 years before losing her seat in the Legislative Council elections in 2008, Chow served as an executive councillor for five years from 2003. She was returned uncontested last month as the Liberal Party's new chief, with James Tien Pei-chun and former chairwoman Miriam Lau Kin-yee as honorary chairmen.
Tien told a RTHK interviewer last week that Leung's unwillingness to "listen to others" in his six months in office - even rejecting advice from pro-government parties such as the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong - could backfire on him.
Chow endorsed that view.
"I remember that after Leung won his campaign, he said: 'From now on, there won't be any Tang camp or Leung camp. There is only the Hong Kong camp,'" said Chow, referring to Leung's comments about his then chief executive rival Henry Tang Ying-yen.
"But his Hong Kong camp has been pushing his opinion from a particular perspective, and he is not someone who listens to opinion from various directions … not even having a discussion process with us," she said.
The Beijing leaders' messages of support during Leung's duty visit to the capital last month did not mean that the central government would not dump the chief executive if he failed to measure up, the new party leader said.
"For the time being, the central government's message has to be clear," she said. "But no government or chief executive can ignore the people's views just because he has the authorisation from above."
Chow said it was impossible for a leader who continually ignored public opinion to govern. "In the end, you have to turn the situation around, and I think the only way for him to do so is to let Hongkongers feel that he is a fair and open leader," she said.
Chow described the New Year's Day protest and the unprecedented move in the legislature to impeach Leung next week as "unarguably alarming" for the leader. But the Liberals will not ask Leung to resign, as such a move would spell uncertainty for Hong Kong, she said.