Fairness and honesty are the key attributes required for the chief executive, Preparatory Committee member Maria Tam Wai-chu said yesterday. She urged anyone interested in contesting the post to quickly make themselves known to the Selection Committee and the public. But Ms Tam, a barrister, declined to say whether she preferred Chief Justice Sir Ti Liang Yang to a businessman for the post. Shipping tycoon Tung Chee-hwa is believed to be stepping up his preparations for the race through meetings with trade unionists. Ms Tam told a Basic Law seminar hosted by the Law Society: 'Hong Kong is a place governed by rule of law. At the same time, it is a successful economic city. Both business and law are essential to the territory. 'The most important qualities the chief executive should have are fairness and honesty. 'He or she does not necessarily have to have specific skills or experience. 'Hong Kong functions very well simply because the civil service is efficiently running the territory,' she said. 'I believe the civil service will continue to perform its function after the chief executive is chosen.' The post-handover government should tackle as a priority the arrangements for mutual legal assistance between Hong Kong and China, she said. The Special Administrative Region government should attach great importance to the problem. But she said it would be difficult to solve the legal assistance issue by simply passing a national law stating the mutual arrangement by China. 'Even if a set of national laws is passed, we have no idea of how the laws would be applied in different provinces and the standard of litigation in different regions,' Ms Tam said.