Former Legislative Council president Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai has hinted she would be prepared to run in next year's chief executive election if her 'favourite candidate' does not. The Beijing loyalist said that if her favourite, whom she did not name, decided to run he would have her unconditional support '[But] if I find no candidate is acceptable, then I cannot rule out that I shall run. Of course, if I find none of the candidates acceptable, I should consider running.' Fan, a member of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, has been widely tipped to seek selection as a candidate for chief executive, although there is speculation that she is not Beijing's number one choice. A leading political observer saw her remarks as a hint that she would not run, saying she was seen as a supporter of Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen and it was 'highly unlikely' that he would not run. Elaborating on her remarks, Fan said 'unconditional support' meant that she would back her favourite candidate without seeking a role in his election team or a post in his government. She later added: 'At this moment, there is one [whom I find acceptable] ... his experience and competence is up to the public to analyse.' Tang and Executive Council convenor Leung Chun-ying are tipped as the main candidates for the top post. Recently, legislator Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, head of the New People's Party, also expressed interest, saying in an interview that she would not mind 'sacrificing herself' because she wanted to contribute. So far, none of them have confirmed they will run. City University political scientist Dr James Sung Lap-kung said he saw Fan's remarks as hints that she would quit the race. 'It is widely believed that Mrs Fan supports Mr Henry Tang. And it seems highly unlikely that Mr Tang would not run. Now she says she will only run if her favourite will not. It seems the only conclusion is that Mrs Fan is paving a way for her to step down from the race,' said Sung. Chinese University political observer Ivan Choi Chi-keung said it was too early to speculate that Fan was prepared to be the number two choice. 'So far there has not been any clear message from Beijing as to who is its favourite. So, all the likely candidates are coming out to try to gain support. The situation will remain highly confusing,' he said. Meanwhile, according to a classified diplomatic cable from the US Consulate in Hong Kong in 2008, Fan told the then-consul general Joe Donovan that Hong Kong needed a politician, instead of a businessman or bureaucrat, as the chief executive. Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen was a civil servant and his predecessor Tung Chee-hwa is a shipping magnate.