The justice chief gives her reply to speculation Elsie Leung Oi-sie said last night she was willing to remain as justice minister if asked to do so. 'I will certainly be here in July. But it would be better for me to give a reply after the new chief executive makes a decision,' she said. 'We should do it step by step.' The South China Morning Post reported yesterday that Miss Leung had cleared her diary from July onwards, a move taken as a signal that she wanted to stand down once a new chief executive was in place. Miss Leung said she had booked official appointments within the next two months and it was inaccurate to state that she had no appointments after July. 'I'm not used to scheduling appointments too far ahead,' she said. She also cited a commitment to attend an international conference in Thailand this summer as part of her scheduling. The meeting would be attended by procurators from the mainland and member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. But Miss Leung did not say yesterday whether she had pondered leaving her post after former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa made a premature departure. Department of Justice sources had been told Miss Leung was not taking appointments after July 1. That prompted speculation she was poised to leave the post she has held since the handover. It was almost open knowledge that Miss Leung, 66, had on more than one occasion wanted to opt out of the job, especially after she recovered from cancer surgery. But she had stayed on out of a sense of duty and her obligations to Beijing and Mr Tung, with whom she enjoys close ties. With Mr Tung's departure, sources said they would not be surprised if Miss Leung had toyed with the idea of leaving again. But since then, acting Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, who has yet to declare his candidacy for the top job, has quietly invited all ministers to remain in his ruling team. This is understood to be a request from Beijing which has stressed the importance of stability. Insiders say even if Miss Leung had wanted to quit, it would be in her nature to choose to stay on out of a sense of duty.