A retired political heavyweight last night called for the next chief executive to be elected by universal suffrage. Chung Sze-yuen, a former member of the Executive Council, said the move would win popular support and boost the standing of Hong Kong's political leadership. Dr Chung said the chief executive could only implement policies effectively if he was directly elected, backed by a ruling party in the Legislative Council and had the ability to form a cabinet comprised of talented individuals from different sectors. Only by introducing a democratic political system could Hong Kong's problems be resolved, he said. 'Now, our chief executive is elected by an 800-person committee. His political standing is far lower than the legislators who are elected by hundreds of thousands of people,' Dr Chung said. According to Article 45 of the Basic Law, a committee comprising 800 or 1,000 people could nominate four to five candidates to the post of chief executive, all acceptable to the central government, he said. 'Universal suffrage can then be held to choose the chief executive [among the nominations],' Dr Chung said. As a result, his political standing would be much higher. Calls for universal suffrage of both the chief executive and the legislature have topped the agenda during three rallies this month. The pro-democracy camp has urged the government to carry out a public consultation at year's end for the direct election of the chief executive in 2007, and the legislature in 2008. Dr Chung also said it was hard for the chief executive to implement policies without his own party to secure votes in the Legislative Council. He said the original idea of Mr Tung forming a 'ruling coalition' by inviting leaders of the Liberal Party and the Democratic Alliance for Betterment of Hong Kong to his cabinet was not working. For instance, when DAB chairman Tsang Yok-sing voted for the Betting Duty (Amendment) Bill early this month, it was because he was bound by the collective responsibility system of the Executive Council. Yet all his party members voted against it, Dr Chung said. Just as the incident would not happen in countries that adopt the 'ruling coalition' system, Dr Chung said the situation showed the Tung administration was not an 'executive-led' government, but a 'legislative-led' one.