By Vince Chong, The Straits Times, March 4, 2005
A CONSTITUTIONAL controversy is brewing over Hong Kong's succession process as Chief Executive Tung Chee Hwa remained silent yesterday despite rampant speculation that he is stepping down. Views are split over whether the new leader - in the event of Mr Tung's resignation - would stay for only the remaining two years of his term or start a fresh five-year term.
A debate has also emerged over whether Mr Tung's Cabinet should quit with him, a move which could create a power vacuum in the territory. The term of office has sparked heated debate because a five-year term would allow Beijing to stave off popular demands for direct election of Hong Kong's leader in 2007, according to observers. Under the current law, the chief executive is picked by a 800-member Election Committee which is seen to be pro-Beijing.-----------------------