Given his close ties with Beijing officialdom, Executive Council heavyweight Leung Chun-ying seems an unlikely target of finger-pointing in the pro-Beijing, government-friendly media. A critical column in Ta Kung Pao on April 1 was an eye-opener to pundits, even though it was followed two days later by a supportive article by another writer. Mr Leung was in hot water after he commented at a business forum that government efforts to promote the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement had not yet borne fruit. Noting Mr Leung was part of the governing team, the first Ta Kung Pao article said people would feel perplexed that he was targeting his colleagues. It went on to criticise what it deemed an inappropriate decision by Mr Leung not to cut short his stay in Beijing to attend an emergency Exco meeting on the resignation of former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa on March 12. Mr Leung was attending the closing ceremony of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. The article said it was important for an urgent Exco meeting to be convened at a time of uncertainty over the leadership change. '[Mr Leung] has failed to set the priority right. Worse, he made further complaints [about the meeting arrangement] to the media. Signs of controversy have emerged in the early days of the transitional team. This is not only a joke to some people, but a cause of concern to people who want to see harmony and stability.' The second column penned by another writer raised the question of whether government team members must say yes to everything the government does, including its mistakes and inadequacies. Insisting that Mr Leung's criticism of the government over the promotion of Cepa was not unfounded, it argued it would be counterproductive for people not to 'right the right, wrong the wrong' for the sake of face-saving. Contrasting views over the deeds and words of a key pro-Beijing figure have been rare in China-affiliated dailies such as Ta Kung Pao. This is particularly so during a leadership shake-up and speculation about power plays in the cabinet. The incident has laid bare the long-standing contradictions within the pro-Beijing, pro-government circle over the approach towards the administration. One line of thinking - exemplified in the article critical of Mr Leung - is that the 'love China, love Hong Kong' force is obligated to put aside differences over government policies for the sake of upholding stability and harmony. Dissenting views are construed as a sign of divisiveness and instability and should be kept within four walls. The other line of thinking, reflected in the second article, is that the 'love China, love Hong Kong' camp should play the role of a friendly troubleshooter for the administration. While backing the government when it does the right thing, proponents are adamant they should dare to make 'constructive criticism' when things go wrong. The controversy over Mr Leung's remarks came as sharp attacks by pro-Beijing legislator Choy So-yuk against acting Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen caused a stir in pro-Beijing circles and the community. Ms Choy said Mr Tsang was arrogant and disrespectful of patriotic values. In his column in Ming Pao on Friday, veteran pro-Beijing figure Ng Hong-mun said Ms Choy's view clearly did not represent the 'pan-patriotic force'. 'The central authorities are in support of Donald Tsang,' he wrote. 'Anyone in the 'pan-patriotic force' with some sense realises that. Do you really think they will confront Beijing at such a critical time?' The strong political backlash may have surprised Mr Leung and Ms Choy, but those critical remarks were not expected to come from people in the 'love China, love Hong Kong' force. As they reflect on it, they will probably realise that speaking their minds can be costly at a time when the political scene is highly inflammable.