Mon, Feb 12, 2007 - Page 4 News List

Tsang slammed for lack of Hong Kong democracy policy

AFP , HONG KONG

Richard Li (李澤楷), one of Hong Kong's top businessmen and the son of Asia's richest man, Li Ka-shing (李嘉誠), has hit out at Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang's (曾蔭權) lack of policy on democracy, a report said yesterday.

Tsang, who is seeking a second term as chief executive in a selection race on March 25, has remained tight-lipped about how he would deal with the thorny issue of introducing full democracy to the former British colony.

Beijing has the final say on when the transition -- which is promised in the territory's Basic Law -- should take place.

The Hong Kong government has usually reflected the view of China on the issue, preferring gradual change rather than the swift reforms demanded by democracy supporters.

However, Li called on Tsang to explain his personal position on the matter.

"I spoke with Mr. Tsang two days ago on this issue," said Li, a member of the 800-member Election Committee that will select the next leader.

"I am disappointed he did not have a clear stance," Li was quoted as saying in the Sunday Morning Post.

"Mr Tsang said he will consider my opinion and reply to me in the next few days," Li said.

Mr Tsang should make his statement on universal suffrage to the public after he replies to me," he said.

Li, who is chairman of Hong Kong's dominant telecoms operator PCCW, is unusual among the city's business elite who normally side with the government to protect their huge investments in China.

Hong Kong's political agenda has been overshadowed by the democracy issue since 1997 as the China-backed government has fought a long battle with pro-democracy legislators over the timing of the move.

China is reluctant to allow sudden political change in case it destabilizes its richest city and sparks calls for greater democratic freedoms elsewhere in the country.

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