Quotes of the Day

Monday, Jul. 28, 2003

Open quoteHong Kong's leader, Tung Chee-hwa, 66, is under intense pressure to quit. Here are the options facing him—and who may replace him:

Option 1: Stay in Power
Tung could weather the storm by sacking the more unpopular members of his Cabinet. Topping that list would be Secretary for Security Regina Ip, the public face of Article 23, and Financial Secretary Antony Leung, under fire for the ailing economy—and for trying to avoid a hefty new car tax that he himself introduced

Option 2: Impeachment
Critics point to Tung's tardy response to the SARS epidemic and his bungling efforts to revive the economy to claim that he has been derelict in his duty—one requirement for impeachment under Hong Kong's mini-constitution. A two-third vote by lawmakers would be needed to recommend to Beijing that he be removed

Option 3: Resign
Tung would have no choice but to quit if Beijing urged him to go. Under Hong Kong's mini-constitution, he must resign if he cannot discharge his duties (because of illness, for example), repeatedly fails to get his policies or budget approved by the legislature, or repeatedly refuses to sign bills the legislature has passed

Possible Successors
Should Tung fall ill or vacate his post temporarily, his duties would be assumed by his No. 2, Chief Secretary Donald Tsang. If Tung resigns, a new Chief Executive must be selected within six months by the 800-member Election Committee and be approved by Beijing. There is no shortage of candidates:

At 48, Leung is already a member of Tung's inner circle—he's a Cabinet member—and was seen as a possible deputy to Tung back in 1997 when Hong Kong returned to Chinese sovereignty. Though he is not among the territory's super-rich, Leung has made a fortune in real estate. He also has excellent connections with mainland China

Brainy, well-traveled, well-spoken and well-liked, Fung, 57, seems eminently qualified to rescue Hong Kong's sick economy. He was once an investment banker and venture capitalist, used to head the Trade Development Council, is current chairman of the Airport Authority, and also runs his family firm, the successful blue-chip trading company Li & Fung

The 50-year-old textile tycoon was plucked from the private sector last year by Tung to become his Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology. The word around town is that he's ambitious and desperately wants the top job. But several embarrassing gaffes (the 1997 financial crisis was "very good" for Hong Kong) and his lack of political experience may preclude his ascent

Chan, 63, would easily win the job if the Chief Executive were chosen through popular vote. The territory's Chief Secretary during the last British Administration and during Tung's first term, the always cool and elegant-looking Chan is widely known as "Hong Kong's conscience" for her vocal defense of the city's autonomy and desire for full democracy Close quote

  • Nick Papadopoulos
  • Hong Kong Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa is faced with some unattractive options
| Source: Hong Kong Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa is faced with some unattractive options