Former lawmaker Ronny Tong Ka-wah has said he would considering joining the government’s top decision-making body.
Tong, now the convener of the centrist group Path of Democracy, said the Executive Council (ExCo) acts as consultants to the government to give unbiased advice.
He was asked whether he would join the council himself, as suggested by reports, when appearing on a Commercial Radio programme on Monday.
Tong, a barrister, first responded: “Didn’t we agree not to talk about this issue?” But he added later: “If people think my talents could help the government, as a part of society, of course I should consider.”
Tong resigned from his role as a lawmaker in 2015 when he withdrew from the pro-democracy Civic Party.
He was said to be a close ally of Chief Executive-elect Carrie Lam during the election, with some accusing him of favouring her during the debate organised by Tong’s group.
Tong, who identifies himself as a pan-democrat, said it would be more useful for pan-democrats to join the Executive Council, rather than serving as the principal officials of government bureaus.
He said that principal officials are only in charge of certain policy aspects, but ExCo members were not limited to giving advice on any aspect.
“From the first day I joined politics, including my proposal to start the Civic Party, I believe that it should be politicians’ goal to get into power… or find ways to constructively influence governance,” Tong said. “It is difficult for me to accept that being in politics means being in the opposition forever.”
“Even if you are in the opposition, there is still one day when you hope to overthrow the regime and system, and govern yourself. If you don’t have such goals or ambitions, don’t be in politics,” he added. “I don’t think it should be politicians’ ambition to just be lawmakers earning several tens of thousands [in monthly wages].”
Law Chi-kwong, a founding member often referred to as the “brains” of the Democratic Party, is expected to join the new administration in July.
Tong said the opposition should think with a “responsible mind” when the chief executive is willing to invite them into the government. If the new administration is willing to do so, it shows that it is willing to resolve the split in society, he said.
But he would not speculate on the odds of a pan-democratic figure joining the ExCo.
Tong also proposed a review of the council’s system, as there were some ExCo members who were also lawmakers. It is difficult for them to be responsible to both the chief executive and their voters, Tong said, suggesting that ExCo members should be able to oppose policies in accordance with voters’ wishes, instead of having to support the government.