POLITICS

Hong Kong lawyer and constitution expert Alan Hoo set to join Liberal Party

High-profile barrister will fill gap left when party heavyweight James Tien fell out of favour with Beijing - but he won't seek a Legco seat

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 26 February, 2015, 12:55am
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 February, 2015, 5:13am

The Liberal Party is set to recruit top lawyer and Basic Law Institute chairman Alan Hoo, helping fill a gap left after former leader James Tien Pei-chun was stripped of his seat on the nation's top political advisory body.

Hoo, a senior counsel and a delegate to the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, will also be the convenor of a new party committee on political reform and constitutional affairs, Tien said yesterday.

Tien, who quit as leader of the business-friendly party last year after being thrown off the CPPCC for urging Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying to consider quitting at the height of the Occupy Central protests, said he had been talking to Hoo, 64, for months.

"He is an expert in the Basic Law and his expertise is what the Liberal Party is lacking," said Tien, who added that colleague Tommy Cheung Yu-yan recommended Hoo to him.

Tien said Hoo could make suggestions on the hot topic of political reform for the 2017 chief executive election on behalf of the party at the annual CPPCC session in Beijing next month. The party has about 300 members of whom three - Selina Chow Liang Shuk-yee, Howard Young How-wah and Li Tze-leung - are also CPPCC members

"As political reform would inevitably touch on constitutional and Basic Law issues … [Hoo's] greatest contribution would be representing [the party] to give opinions," Tien said.

Their political views were similar, Tien said, adding: "I think Hoo and me are alike as we both dare to speak our mind."

However, Tien rejected a suggestion that Hoo would run for the Legislative Council next year, stressing: "Hoo is not joining the party to run for election."

And Tien, 68, also hinted again at giving up his New Territories East seat next year. He is trying to persuade independent Lam Tai-fai to give up his industrial sector seat to run in his place, but Lam will only decide on his political future this summer, after the debate on the government's political reform plans is settled.

Tien said yesterday that the party was still looking for potential Legco candidates, preferably younger people in their 50s.

Besides being one of the city's best-known barristers and heading the institute, an NGO that promotes understanding of the city's mini-constitution, Hoo has seen his personal life in the spotlight. He has been involved in a war of words through the media with ex-girlfriend, actress Liz Kong Hei-man, after they split up last year.

Cheung, the catering sector lawmaker, did not expect Hoo's personal life to affect the image of the party.

"Even if his reputation has been affected … Hoo's expertise in the Basic Law is still a valuable asset to the party," Cheung said.

Hoo could not be reached for comment, but is expected to attend a press conference tomorrow to announce the move.