US embassy cable - 06HONGKONG1417

LIBERAL PARTY CHIEF FLOATS IDEA OF A RULING PARTY

Identifier: 06HONGKONG1417
Wikileaks: View 06HONGKONG1417 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Consulate Hong Kong
Created: 2006-04-04 11:30:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PGOV PHUM PINR PREL HK CH
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
VZCZCXRO1547
PP RUEHCN
DE RUEHHK #1417 0941130
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 041130Z APR 06
FM AMCONSUL HONG KONG
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5930
INFO RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L HONG KONG 001417 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EAP AND EAP/CM 
NSC FOR DENNIS WILDER 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/04/2031 
TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, PINR, PREL, HK, CH 
SUBJECT: LIBERAL PARTY CHIEF FLOATS IDEA OF A RULING PARTY 
 
 
Classified By: E/P Chief Simon Schuchat. Reasons: 1.4(b,d). 
 
1. (C) Summary:  On April 3, James Tien, Chairman of the 
pro-business Liberal Party (LP), proposed an amendment to an 
election bill currently under discussion by the Legislative 
Council, which would allow the winning Chief Executive (CE) 
candidate to retain his/her political party affiliation. 
Under current regulations, the winner of the CE Election is 
required to drop his/her party membership within seven 
workdays after the election.  Tien's proposal, if approved, 
would strengthen the role of parties in politics and 
establish a "ruling party"; however, analysts predict that 
the proposal won't pass.  Secretary for Constitutional 
Affairs Stephen Lam argued that an internal government survey 
indicated that 70 percent of Hong Kongers preferred to have 
an "independent" CE and said that the administration did not 
intend to amend the bill.  End Summary. 
 
A "Ruling Party" 
---------------- 
 
2. (C) On April 3, James Tien, Chairman of the pro-business 
Liberal Party (LP), proposed an amendment to the Chief 
Executive (CE) and Legislative Council (Legco) Elections 
(Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2006 currently under 
discussion by the Legco Bills Committee, which would allow 
the winning CE candidate to retain his/her political party 
affiliation.  Under Article 31 of the CE Election Ordinance 
2001, the winner of the CE Election is required to drop 
his/her party membership within seven workdays after the 
election.  The philosophy behind this provision was that the 
CE should operate above politics and not engage in party 
politics.  The Democratic Party (DP) and the Civic Party (CP) 
have come out in support of Tien's proposal, while the 
Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong 
Kong (DAB) and The Alliance have come out against it. 
(Comment:  The DAB has told us in private that it hopes to be 
the ruling party of Hong Kong at some point in the future. 
However, they are reluctant to state this publicly as Beijing 
has made clear that it is not in favor of party politics in 
Hong Kong.  End Comment.) 
 
3. (SBU) According to political analysts, Tien's proposal, 
which, if approved, would strengthen the role of political 
parties in politics by potentially establishing a "ruling 
party," has little chance of winning enough votes in Legco to 
pass.  As an individual motion, Tien's amendment would 
require a simple majority in both the geographic and 
functional constituencies.  With support from the DP and CP, 
the proposal would pass in the geographic constituency; but 
would not likely pass in the functional constituency.  The 
other challenge is the possibility that Legco President Rita 
Fan might reject Tien's proposal and rule that the amendment 
goes beyond the scope of the "Miscellaneous Amendments" bill. 
 
 
The "Independent" Chief Executive 
--------------------------------- 
 
4. (SBU) The Hong Kong Government (HKG) was not receptive to 
Tien's proposal.  Secretary for Constitutional Affairs 
Stephen Lam contended that an internal government survey 
indicated that 70 percent of Hong Kongers preferred to have 
an "independent" CE and said that the administration did not 
intend to amend the bill.  The HKG had expected easy passage 
of the bill, as it covered technical and administrative 
issues for the CE and Legco elections.  The government may 
argue that there is insufficient time to discuss this issue 
before the district council and CE Election Committee 
elections this year.  The bill is due for a second reading on 
May 10. 
 
5. (C) The "Hong Kong Economic Journal" speculated that Tien 
is considering a possible bid for the CE position in 2007 and 
is using this proposal as a means to test Beijing's support 
for him.  (Note: Many believe that Beijing has still not 
forgiven Tien for his surprise resignation from the Executive 
Council in 2003 which led to the scuttling of the 
government's national security legislation.  End Note.)  Tien 
told the "Sing Pao" on April 4 that he had been approached by 
the Central Government's Liaison Office (CGLO).  They were 
interested in trying to understand his motives in proposing 
his amendment to the bill, said Tien.  He emphasized that the 
CGLO had not asked him to withdraw his proposal. 
Cunningham 

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