Leung resigns ExCo post

Updated: 2011-09-21 06:50

By Joseph Li (HK Edition)

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First declared candidate for top job expected to start campaigning for CE next week

The 2012 Chief Executive election is shaping up as a two-horse race, with Executive Council (ExCo) Convenor Leung Chun-ying first out of the gate.

Leung announced on Tuesday that he will step down from the cabinet in a matter of days.

A spokesman for the Chief Executive's Office said later that the Chief Executive has accepted the resignation in principle.

Chief Secretary for Administration Henry Tang continues to remain tight-lipped about his election plans, but he too is expected to resign his position shortly to focus on his election campaign.

Some sources said Tang has already tendered his resignation and will launch his campaign sometime next week, once his resignation is approved by the central government.

Ivan Choy, senior instructor at Chinese University's Government and Public Administration Department, noted news reports claiming Tang is the central government's preferred candidate.

But Leung, by jumping into the race early, has gained an early edge in the race, Choy said.

The tactic indicated Leung's strong determination, with his pre-emptive tactics likely to minimize the chances of his being "talked out" of the race, Choy commented.

Since Leung's position as ExCo convenor is quite flexible, his early resignation does not affect government operations or his election campaign, Choy said.

The first meeting of the ExCo after the summer recess was held on Tuesday. It was the first time the meeting had been held at the new government headquarters.

Chief Executive Donald Tsang did not respond to media questions asking whether he had received resignation letters from cabinet members, as he arrived for the meeting.

Tang also kept silent, limiting himself to smiling and waving to waiting reporters when arriving and leaving.

Tang has never said a word in public indicating his intention to contest the Chief Executive post.

Owing to his official position as No 2 in the government, he is wrapped in government policies and cannot speak on his personal visions.

Once he leaves the government, he will be free to unveil his policy platforms and begin the campaign work, according to sources.

The ExCo meeting lasted more than two hours. After the meeting, a jubilant Leung, who said two weeks ago that he "is on standby for the election", said the Chief Executive had accepted his resignation.

Leung said the effective date for the resignation was also discussed.

"We decided this morning that I should resign as soon as possible, but the specific date is to be decided," he said.

"It may take a few days or a week for me to finish outstanding work before I formally quit the Executive Council."

Fellow Executive Councillor Lau Kong-wah said after the meeting that the question of resignation of cabinet members was not discussed.

He also said he had no idea regarding what type of outstanding work remained for Leung to complete.


China Daily

(HK Edition 09/21/2011 page1)