The chief executive has come under pressure to clarify whether Hong Kong's autonomy has been undermined, following allegations that a newly appointed executive councillor was given the seat as a political reward ordered by Beijing. But Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's office dismissed the claim, saying the appointments of five new executive councillors on Tuesday were made in accordance with the Basic Law. The row centres around rural patriarch Lau Wong-fat, head of the Heung Yee Kuk. Mr Lau left the Liberal Party amid a row over his backing in September of a Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong candidate for a New Territories Legislative Council seat, which Liberal Party vice-chairwoman Selina Chow Liang Shuk-yee was contesting. Mrs Chow lost her seat. On Tuesday, veteran political figure and commentator Allen Lee Peng-fei said Mr Lau, who was returned to the kuk constituency in the Legco election, had been rewarded by Mr Tsang with an Executive Council seat on Beijing's orders for his support of the DAB. Yesterday, former chief secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang urged Mr Tsang to clarify whether Mr Lau's appointment was a political reward ordered by the central government. 'The integrity and quality of the Exco members are very important. If it really was a political reward, if the chief executive cannot even have a say when appointing his own cabinet members, where is 'one country, two systems' and a high degree of autonomy?' Mrs Chan asked at a school function. She said the fact that none of Mr Tsang's new appointees came from a political party showed that he had no intention of improving his relations with Legco. Mrs Chan said it was the duty of Exco members to defend human rights and push for democratisation. Democrat Lee Wing-tat said Mr Tsang had 'detonated a bomb' by appointing Mr Lau. 'Everybody will believe that Beijing was behind the appointment. Otherwise, why would such a person be appointed?' Mr Lau dismissed accusations that Beijing had asked Mr Tsang to give him the seat, and said his long record in serving rural interests was the reason for his appointment. 'I'll let citizens judge. The government has discerning eyes and knows who can help its policy implementation and communication,' he said. A spokesman for the Chief Executive's Office said Mr Tsang had already explained the reasons for appointing Mr Lau at Tuesday's press conference. Mr Tsang has said that Mr Lau's experience in rural affairs could help the government in implementing infrastructure projects, many of them in the New Territories.