Liberal Party chair and lawmaker Tommy Cheung Yu-yan, who was appointed to the top government advisory body on Friday, has said that his appointment does not mean he is a fan of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.
The Executive Council is an advisory body which helps the Chief Executive make policy decisions. Cheung’s appointment attracted criticism from the pro-Beijing and pro-business party’s honorary chair James Tien Pei-chun, who openly opposes Leung’s re-election. Tien urged Cheung, a veteran lawmaker, to resign from the chairmanship, but he refused.
Cheung’s appointment came just four months before the chief executive election in March, and seven months before Leung’s current term ends. Leung has yet to officially announce whether he will seek re-election, though recently he has been more active in public engagement activities such as district visits.
“It isn’t the case that if I join the Executive Council then I am a fan of Leung Chun-ying, and if I do not join the executive council then I am not a fan,” he said on a RTHK programme on Monday.
He said he understood that Tien’s comments were made with good intentions, and that he was concerned that Cheung’s appointment would affect the party’s future. But he said he was not concerned about differences within the party.
“Many people asked me if I have talked to [Tien] – I said better not do so now, because when he wakes up he will forget it,” he said. “Time heals all wounds.”
Cheung said that Leung reached out to invite him to join the council after he took the Legislative Council’s oath of office on October 12. He said Leung asked to meet him at the Government House, but Cheung thought they would be discussing other matters.
He said it was “impossible” that the appointment was about him personally. Rather, it had to do with the government’s future governing policies and administrative and legislative work, and he was chosen to provide a perspective from a different sector.
He also said he never imagined being appointed to the position, that he never wished for it, and that Leung’s invitation came as a surprise. “It was quite sudden,” he said.
Cheung clarified over the weekend during a television interview that the Liberal Party has a consensus that should any government policy not match the party’s stance, he would vote in support of the government as an executive councillor, but other Liberal Party lawmakers could vote any way they wished.
Citing a past example, Cheung said that when Tien was part of the executive council in 2003, some party members urged him to vote in support of the government’s anti-subversion legislation, but Tien chose to resign from the council instead.
Meanwhile, Alan Hoo Hon-ching, barrister and vice-chair of the Liberal Party, said that he, two other vice-chairs, and party leader lawmaker Felix Chung Kwok-pan supported Cheung’s appointment, but he also respects Tien’s opinion.
Pro-Beijing lawmaker Martin Liao Cheung-kong was also appointed to the council last Friday.