Industrial (first) constituency lawmaker-elect Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen said on Monday that most pro-establishment lawmakers back his candidacy for Legislative Council president.

Leung, chairman of the Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong (BPA), made the statement after pro-establishment lawmakers met on Monday to decide on their LegCo presidential candidate. He said he would be meeting with other lawmakers, including pan-democrats, this week to seek their support.

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Andrew Leung (left) and Michael Tien (right). File Photo: Wikicommons/Apple Daily.

Leung added that he had renounced his British citizenship since being elected into the legislature. Under Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, the Legislative Council president must be a Chinese citizen with no right of abode in any foreign country.

Leung also said that he is not a “hardliner” and would ensure good communications with other lawmakers. His remarks were in reference to New People’s Party lawmaker-elect Michael Tien Puk-sun’s earlier comment that pro-Beijing politicians generally preferred Leung’s tough approach.

Local media reported earlier that Leung would quit as the BPA’s head following the LegCo president election next Wednesday in order to maintain political neutrality. Members of the BPA told HK01 that, if elected, Leung would likely follow former LegCo president Jasper Tsang’s practice of refraining from participating in party meetings, voting in the legislature and commenting on politics.

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File photo: HKFP.

Tien, who has indicated his intention to run for LegCo presidency, disagreed with the pro-establishment camp’s choice. He said on Monday that as a democratically elected lawmaker, he was not convinced Leung could represent the people, as the functional constituency lawmaker was automatically elected because of a lack of competition.

Tien earlier said he would be petitioning the pro-establishment camp to hold a preliminary round of anonymous voting to decide whether he or Leung would run for the presidency, citing that around half of pro-establishment camp support Tien but are unwilling to go against their own parties’ lines to vote for Tien.

However, Tien said that he would not enter the race if most lawmakers supported Leung “for the sake of the bigger picture.”

Leung, who has been the industrial (first) constituency lawmaker since 2004, is a merchant and holds memberships in textile-related organisations, according to the Legislative Council’s website. His party is the second-largest pro-Beijing party in the Legislative Council, after the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong or the DAB.

Leung’s colleague Lo Wai-kwok will likely take over as the BAP’s chairman if Leung becomes LegCo president.

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James To Kun-sun. File

James To Kun-sun of the Democratic Party will be representing the pan-democratic camp to run against Leung.

Under Article 71 of the Basic Law, the president is elected by members. The president must be a legislator and can preside over all meetings, maintain order in the chamber, decide the agenda and time of meetings and call special out-of-hours sessions. Jasper Tsang Yok-sing stood down from the role at the end of the last session.

Ellie Ng has written for Foreign Policy, the Daily Telegraph, Global Voices Online and others.