HK critic tipped to retire from key panel

A MAVERICK Hongkong member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) Standing Committee and former director of the left-wing Wen Wei Po, Mr Lee Tse-chung, is expected to retire from China's highest consultative body because of his critical views of the Beijing regime, according to informed Chinese sources.

Mr Lee, who was stripped of his directorship of Wen Wei Po after the June 4 incident, has refused to attend the CPPCC's annual sessions and committee meetings since 1989.

According to a well-informed source close to the CPPCC, Mr Lee will retire from the consultative body next month because of his ''unco-operative attitude''.

''Since the CPPCC will appoint a new batch of Hongkong members later this month, the authorities will not reappoint Lee Tse-chung, with the excuse that he is too old with poor health,'' the source said.

But the other four elderly Hongkong members of the CPPCC Standing Committee, Mr Ann Tse-kai, Mr Wong Hak-lap, Mr Chong Si-ping and Mr Tang Hsiang-chien, are expected to be reappointed.

The editor-in-chief of Wen Wei Po, Mr Cheung Wan-fung, is tipped to be appointed to the CPPCC next month.

Mr Lee, 82, who is now honorary director of the China-watching Contemporary Monthly Magazine, has advocated greater press freedom in Hongkong and China.

He said the Hongkong branch of the New China News Agency so far had not contacted him to discuss the question of his reappointment.

He said he had decided not to go to Beijing for the CPPCC sessions because there was a lack of democratic atmosphere there after 1989.

Another veteran Hongkong CPPCC member, Hongkong affairs adviser Mr Xu Simin, said the Standing Committee would meet in Beijing next Monday and Tuesday to scrutinise the list of proposed candidates for the next CPPCC.