Former Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing has reneged on a promise to appear at a forum set to feature Hong Kong's last governor Chris Patten, to stave off complaints to Beijing.
Tsang wrote in his column for yesterday's edition of Chinese-language newspaper AM730 that some people had already taken aim at him behind his back for being associated with Patten.
Tsang quoted friends as saying some people had complained to Beijing about him having Patten write the foreword for a book he published in July, which made him feel he had stirred up "big trouble".
Patten was branded "a sinner for 1,000 years" in 1993 by Lu Ping (魯平 ), then director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, over his plans for electoral reform.
Lu said Patten's plans had breached the Basic Law and Sino-British agreements, and accused the then governor of ruining a smooth transition of sovereignty.
"Some people travelled to Beijing to lodge a complaint against you after you asked the sinner for 1,000 years to write a foreword," Tsang wrote friends had told him. "I have been receiving kind reminders from my friends recently asking me to act carefully and be aware of back-stabbing."
Tsang wrote that he had told the forum's organiser, the Project Citizens Foundation, he could not honour his pledge to attend the event scheduled for Saturday.
Former chief secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang, a director of the foundation, said she sympathised with Tsang over his U-turn.
She said Hong Kong's "pillars of governance", the topic of the forum, were "very shaky" as a result of a polarised community and Beijing's intervention in the oath-taking row, and Tsang was a suitable speaker as a top pro-Beijing figure who was liberal-minded.
"I take it as a great pity we no longer have him," Chan said.
Audrey Yu Yuet-mee, former chairwoman of the Civic Party, will take Tsang's place, alongside British businessman Simon Murray and University of Hong Kong president Peter Mathieson.