The NPC Standing Committee has been urged to turn the uncertainty over the total tenure of the next chief executive into an opportunity for the development of a mechanism on the amendment of the Basic Law. Professor Benny Tai Yiu-ting, a constitutional law expert at the University of Hong Kong, said there would be ample time for studies and discussion on the issue after the next Basic Law interpretation by the Standing Committee scheduled for next week. The question of whether the next chief executive can serve a total of seven years or 12 years in maximum has split the mainland and Hong Kong legal profession. Wang Zengmin, a mainland legal expert from the Tsinghua University, said the remainder of Tung Chee-hwa's tenure should not be considered a term, as its length would be less than half the original five years. As the Basic Law allows a maximum of two terms for a chief executive, it means Mr Tung's successor could serve up to 12 years in office if he or she wins in the July 10 election and is re-elected twice. Professor Tai said the issue did not hinge upon matters of principle and therefore could provide a good case for practical discussion on ways to clarify it through Basic Law amendment.