Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has been voted in as a vice-chairman of the top Chinese political advisory body.
His appointment was supported by 2,066 votes at the closing meeting of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) on Monday morning in Beijing. 13 members cast opposition votes and there were 16 abstentions. Six delegates did not vote.
Leung is the second vice-chairman – effectively a state leader – from Hong Kong, in addition to former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa. But Leung is the first chief executive to become a vice-chairman of the national political body during his tenure.
Leung had insisted that the two roles did not conflict.
He was asked to sit at the front row of the meeting, moving from the middle, after he was appointed.
Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke to Leung for around 40 seconds and shook hands with him following the closing ceremony. After Xi, Premier Li Keqiang and several other Politburo members also shook hands with Leung.
Tung only became a vice-chairman after he stepped down in 2005. At the time, he received 2,065 votes in support, 21 opposition votes and 20 abstentions.
Tung was reappointed for a third term in 2013. In March that year, 2,181 voters backed him, eight cast opposition votes and two abstained.
Leung was already appointed as a CPPCC member last week, a position which he resigned from before taking office as chief executive in 2012.
His appointment faced opposition from the pro-democracy camp as well as concerns from some CPPCC members, concerning the ongoing saga of his HK$50 million payment from Australian engineering company UGL.
Leung claimed it was a normal “non-compete and non-poach” agreement for buying British firm DTZ, of which Leung was a director.
He received the payment after becoming chief executive in 2012 but decided there was no need to declare it.
A select committee has been formed at the Legislative Council to investigate the matter, though it does not have any special powers to demand statements from witnesses under the Council’s Power and Privileges Ordinance.
Leung reinstated on Sunday that there was no conflict of interest. He said that when he signed the agreement, he was no longer a member of the Executive Council and he had not been elected as the city’s leader.
“Until now, no one said the Hong Kong government gave UGL anything. This matter is a political, sensational stunt,” he said. UGL has engineering projects in Hong Kong.
He added that the Australian newspaper which exposed the agreement did not publish any follow up: “For Australia and the UK, this matter concluded some two years ago.”
Leung previously said he has fully explained this matter to the central government. He has also sue pro-democracy lawmaker Kenneth Leung for defamation over his comments regarding the UGL saga.