Hong Kong's next chief executive should be a mediator between the people and Beijing, says Bishop Joseph Zen Ze-kiun. The head of the Catholic Church in Hong Kong also said the pro-democracy camp should field a candidate in the 2007 election for the post if they could find a person who could build trust with the central government. His call came as leaders of Hong Kong's six major religions said they would meet soon to discuss the successor to Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa. Speculation on the top job has intensified in recent weeks after tycoons commented on the prospects of Chief Secretary Donald Tsang Yam-kuen and finance chief Henry Tang Ying-yen who are tipped as frontrunners. Saying the church would not 'gamble on power', the bishop said he would not comment on whether he favours Mr Tsang, a devout Catholic, or Mr Tang. Bishop Zen told the South China Morning Post whoever succeeded Mr Tung should stand up for the rights of Hong Kong people when dealing with Beijing. 'The next chief executive must be a mediator between Hong Kong and the central government who can champion the interests of Hong Kong while helping Beijing understand what we are thinking,' Bishop Zen said. 'He should definitely not take a toadying attitude'. Bishop Zen said it would be worthwhile for democrats to field a candidate if that person was acceptable to Beijing. The pro-democracy camp has criticised the Election Committee method of selecting the chief executive as a 'small-circle' election. 'If the person can at least be trusted by Beijing to a certain level, or at least if the central government gives them the benefit of the doubt, then that person would not oppose whatever Beijing says,' he said. It is understood the church wants to avoid being seen as interfering in politics. But liberal-minded Catholics would like to see a pro-democracy candidate who would push for greater democracy and improve people's livelihoods. At a spring reception hosted by Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, Taoist, Confucian and Islamic leaders, clergymen said they would soon discuss the chief executive election. The six denominations have 40 votes on the Election Committee. Liberal Party chairman James Tien Pei-chun, who supports Mr Tang for the post, said there was a need to look at whether Mr Tung's ministers should resign before the election. 'Both Donald and Henry have no political party apparatus to back their campaign, and their relations with Mr Tung will end at election time, which is everybody for themselves,' Mr Tien said. 'Who is going to look after the budget and government policies then? They cannot just campaign and neglect their formal duties.' He also called on Beijing to allow a genuine race between candidates who are deemed acceptable to the central government. Political scientist Li Pang-kwong of Lingnan University said candidates who held office could take leave when campaigning.