Candidates seeking the post of chief executive should give up their British National (Overseas) passports, it was suggested yesterday, even though such a move is not stipulated in the Basic Law. Members of the Preparatory Committee's sub-group on Hong Kong's post-handover leader maintained the chief executive should not hold a document issued by Britain. The Basic Law says the chief executive should be a Chinese citizen who is a permanent resident with no right of abode in foreign countries. And while Britain has insisted the BNO is a passport, China maintains it is merely a travel document. Sub-group member Cheng Yiu-tong said the document's name spoke for itself. 'It says 'British National (Overseas)'. It would be most improper for the chief executive to go to other countries on a British passport.' Mr Cheng said whoever became chief executive could be given a mainland passport if he or she had to travel overseas to promote Hong Kong before the handover. Another sub-group member, Vincent Lo Hong-sui, said it was reasonable to require candidates to give up BNO passports to show their wholehearted commitment to Hong Kong. But the two believed the requirement need not apply to senior officials or provisional legislators. Sub-group member Lau Siu-kai said: 'Theoretically, holders of BNO passports are regarded by Britain as British nationals who have to pay allegiance to the UK Government. There may be a problem of dual allegiance if a chief executive who holds a BNO is travelling abroad.' Frederick Fung Kin-kee, another sub-group member, maintained that only the successful candidate for the chief executive's post should be expected to forfeit their passport. Last night, Xinhua (New China News Agency) Deputy Director Zhang Junsheng gave a lukewarm response to the proposal. He said it was the view of a few Preparatory Committee members, and said the panel had yet to make a formal proposal. But he said the move was 'understandable' because it would seem strange for the Special Administrative Region's chief executive to travel with a BNO passport in his pocket.