Tue, Dec 13, 2011 - Page 5 News List

HK’s richest man, bankers to decide new leadership


Hong Kong’s wealthiest resident, Li Ka-shing (李嘉誠), will help choose the successor to Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang (曾蔭權) along with HSBC Holdings Asia-Pacific chief executive officer Peter Wong (王冬勝) and actor Stephen Chow (周星馳).

Li is part of a 1,200-member election committee, chosen by China, professionals and businesspeople, that will pick the territory’s new leader in March, according to a government Web site. He is joined by Henderson Land Development Co founder Lee Shau Kee (李兆基), Hang Seng Bank chief executive officer Margaret Leung (梁高美懿) and other executives, sparking criticism the panel is not representative of a territory with Asia’s widest rich-poor gap.

Hong Kong’s next top official inherits a territory of 7 million people facing slowing economic growth, surging home prices and a government with record-low approval ratings. Next year’s vote is part of a process that aims to give the former British colony universal suffrage in choosing its top leader in 2017.

“It’s a small-circle election of narrow interests for a committee that’s skewed in favor of those identified with the business and professional groups,” Chinese University of Hong Kong political science associate professor Ma Ngok (馬嶽) said. “The general public can’t participate in this, but many issues in discussion will impact their daily lives.”

Of the 1,200 members, 91 will be representatives from China’s National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, the nation’s top political advisory body. Hong Kong lawmakers are guaranteed seats. The rest comes from district councils, religious groups and industry sectors, including real estate and finance. Most of the groups elected their representatives yesterday.

Former Hong Kong chief secretary Henry Tang (唐英年) and former government adviser Leung Chun-ying (梁振英) have announced their candidacies to replace Tsang, who steps down in June after running the terrritory for seven years. Tsang’s public support has slumped to record low levels, a poll conducted by the University of Hong Kong shows.

Tang, 59, was financial secretary before becoming Hong Kong’s second-highest ranked official, a career path that mirrored Tsang’s. His father is Tang Hsiang-chien (唐翔千), ranked the 40th-richest person in Hong Kong last year by Forbes magazine. Wong and former Hong Kong Monetary Authority chief executive Joseph Yam (任志剛) both said they support Tang’s candidacy.

Leung Chun-ying, the outgoing Asia Pacific chairman of DTZ Group, a property broker that was purchased this month by UGL, has said Hong Kong’s citizens seek change in how the city is governed. Aged 57, he was a non-official member of the Executive Council, which advises the government on major policy issues.

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