Former financial secretary John Tsang Chun-wah had his nomination for the 2017 chief executive election validated after formally submitting his bid on Saturday, the electoral office confirmed today.
The returning officer for the election, Madam Justice Carlye Chu Fun-ling, ruled that Tsang was a valid chief executive election candidate on February 27.
Tsang submitted 160 nominations to the electoral office on February 25. Of those, 125 came from the pan-democrat camp. Just 10 of his 160 nominees from the pro-establishment camp. The remaining 25 do not have a strong political leaning, such as film director Derek Yee Tung-sing, two businessmen from the textile and garment sector and five from the Catholic and Protestant sectors.
Anyone interested in running for the top post needs 150 nominations from the 1,194-member Election Committee to qualify, and at least 601 votes to win. Nominations close on March 1. The committee will elect the city’s next leader on March 26.
Tsang, who almost lost his footing on the way to the electoral office on Saturday, was the first candidate to submit his nominations. He declined to give a breakdown of his supporters from the pan-democrat and pro-government camps.
“I don’t want to draw a line like this because it would further divide Hong Kong,” Tsang said.
Critics say Tsang, who enjoys higher support in opinion polls, has only a slim chance of winning as he secured little backing from the pro-Beijing camp.
Dr Chung Kim-wah, a political scientist at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, told Young Post today that Tsang was not Beijing’s first choice.
“Beijing’s ‘negative’ attitude towards Tsang is clear. It took more than a month to authorise his resignation. Today’s leftist newspapers like Wen Wei Po were not pleased with Tsang’s decision to run for the top job. I believe the Chinese government will target him as the biggest opponent prior to the election,” he says.
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Lau Siu-kai, vice-president of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, a semi-official think-tank based in Beijing, said it was hard for Tsang to get support from the pro-Beijing camp because former chief secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor was believed to be favoured by Beijing.
Tsang’s reliance on pan-democrats would inevitably affect his relationship with the central government, Lau added.
Lam is the front runner in the race and expected to submit more than 300 nominations early this week. Retired judge Woo Kwok-hing on Saturday afternoon received 47 nominations from pan-democrats, bringing his total number of tickets to 156. The remaining contestant, lawmaker Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, said she would “fight till the end” before nominations closed on Wednesday, while admitting she lagged behind.
Meanwhile, “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung announced he would give up his plan to join the race as he failed to secure enough “public nominations” in an unofficial poll. The League of Social Democrats lawmaker, who is against the small-circle nature of the election, had vowed to run for the top job if he could garner support from 38,000 votes in the referendum.