Hot on the heels of the inauguration of Ho Iat-seng as Macau’s third chief executive last Friday, there is chatter within the political circles as to whether his predecessor Fernando Chui Sai-on can advance his political career with Beijing and get promoted to the rank of state leaders.
In 2010, after serving two consecutive terms as the Macau CE and retiring in the previous year, Edmund Ho Hau-wah was elevated to the vice-chairmanship of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) along with “patriotic” tycoon Ma Man-kei.
Until Ma died in 2014, two Macau figures had been holding these key positions simultaneously.
Given that, there is now speculation as to whether Chui, who has also served two consecutive terms as the Macau leader, would get the same treatment as Ho.
However, according to multiple sources familiar with mainland affairs, no one in either the Hong Kong or the Macau political circles has heard of any news that Chui is going to get promoted to CPPCC vice-chairman.
The sources said although there was a brief period when two Macau figures were serving as CPPCC vice-chairpersons at the same time (i.e. Edmund Ho and the late Ma Man-kei), it doesn’t necessarily mean such an arrangement has become routine.
Instead, they believe the chances of Chui getting further promoted to the rank of state leaders may be quite remote.
At present, only one Macau figure, i.e. Edmund Ho, is serving as CPPCC vice-chairman, while there are two vice-chairpersons from Hong Kong, i.e. former Chief Executives Tung Chee-hwa and Leung Chun-ying.
According to the analysis of a number of pro-Beijing figures, it’s only natural that both Edmund Ho and Tung Chee-hwa were highly regarded by Beijing and appointed as state leaders after they had stepped down because after all, the two of them were the first Chief Executives of Macau and Hong Kong.
As far as CY Leung is concerned, his case is actually quite unique, since, much to people’s surprise, he announced back in December 2016 that he wouldn’t seek a second-term as CE citing “family reasons”. Shortly afterwards, he was appointed as CPPCC vice-chairman by Beijing.
In other words, Leung’s promotion to state leader was a kind of “compensation” for his not seeking re-election, and was hence a “special arrangement”.
As such, the dual CPPCC vice-chairmanship cases of Hong Kong and Macau are both, to a certain extent, just a matter of coincidence rather than an official routine.
Besides, the sources added, the CPPCC has never seen four vice-chairs from the Hong Kong and Macau regions in office simultaneously before.
Therefore, there is a prevailing view among the majority of political figures who know what’s hot and what’s not in mainland politics that Chui is unlikely to get promoted to state leader despite the fact that President Xi Jinping spoke highly of him during his latest visit to Macau last week to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the city’s handover.
Lau Siu-kai, the deputy director of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong & Macao Studies, said it is hard to predict whether the central authorities would add another vice-chairman slot to the CPPCC at this stage, as the current term of the consultative body won’t be up until March 2023.
Lau then went on to add that given their scarcity, both the CPPCC vice-chairperson and standing committee member slots shouldn’t be considered as something that are up for grabs.
Moreover, Lau revealed that as far as he knows, some mainland people are quite dismayed at the “preferential treatment” enjoyed by Hong Kong and Macau, under which the CPPCC standing committee member slots allocated to the two SARs have gone completely disproportionate to their tiny populations compared to mainland cities.
As such, he believes Beijing will be extra-cautious this time when deliberating on whether to add another CPPCC vice-chairperson slot that was seen by some as tailor-made for Chui.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Dec 21
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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