Former minister vows to improve Hong Kong-Beijing ties if he wins seat on China’s top legislature

Former chief of mainland Chinese affairs in Hong Kong, Raymond Tam, says electors have been ‘supportive’ of his chances

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 September, 2017, 7:21pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 September, 2017, 9:15pm

The former minister in charge of mainland affairs in Hong Kong, Raymond Tam Chi-yuen, has announced plans to run for a seat in China’s top legislature, saying he hopes to help improve ties between the city and Beijing.

Tam said he had been encouraged to take part in the election, scheduled for December, by some incumbent Hong Kong delegates on the National People’s Congress (NPC) and in recent weeks decided to give it a try.

He said he had called on some of the 1,989 electors on the electoral college that would pick the Hong Kong delegates and that they had, in general, been “supportive”.

“There are 36 seats for Hong Kong delegates. Maybe I can make it,” Tam said, when asked to assess his chances.

Tam hoped he could serve as a bridge to enhance trust between the central government and “various political parties” in Hong Kong and to try to bring the practices adopted in Hong Kong and the international community to the mainland, should he win the election.

“I hope ... to help the senior officials in Beijing understand more the sentiment and the thinking behind the Hong Kong community, and to explain in a more Hong Kong-language, so to speak, the consideration of the central government,” said Tam. “As I have said in the past, if Hong Kong were to restart political reforms, there would be a need to enhance communication between the central government and Hong Kong.”

But he would not say whether he would be on Hong Kong’s side in case of any dispute with Beijing if he became an NPC delegate, saying it was a “fake question”.

The National People’s Congress is the top organ of state power in China. It is made up of deputies elected from electoral units of various provinces, municipalities, and the army, among others. There are more than 2,900 deputies, with 36 from Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong deputy election council is made up of 1,989 electors. Among others, the about 1,200 members on the election committee that picked Hong Kong’s chief executive in March are also eligible to register as members.

By virtue of such a system, more than 100 opposition pan-democrats have registered to sit on the election council.

Some incumbent Hong Kong deputies are also former government officials, including Ambrose Lee Siu-kwong, former security minister; and Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun, former permanent secretary for education and manpower and former head of the Independent Commission Against Corruption.

Tam, 53, was made the secretary for constitutional and mainland affairs in September 2011 and stood down from the post at the end of June when Leung Chun-ying’s term as chief executive came to an end.

In October, he will join the New Frontier Group, a business collective founded by his former boss Antony Leung Kam-chung. Tam was press secretary during Leung’s tenure as financial secretary from 2001 to 2003.