Former chief secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor formally submitted her nominations to the Registration and Electoral Office today . It means the 2017 chief executive election is now a three-horse race after former financial secretary John Tsang Chun-wah and retired judge Woo Kwok-hing submitted their nominations.
Lam submitted 579 nominations to the electoral office on February 28, but she said none of them came from the pan-democratic camp. Tsang and Woo earlier submitted 160 and 181 votes respectively, and had their nomination validated by Madam Justice Carlye Chu Fun-ling. This leaves about 350 votes in the 1,194-member Election Committee that fourth hopeful, Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, could potentially pick up. Nominations close tomorrow at 5pm.
“I’ll keep asking other election committee members for support,” she says. “In these three weeks prior to the election date, I’ll explain my policy ideas and election manifesto to both pro-establishment and pro-democratic camps. I’ll also reach out to the public and hope I can get their support,” she says.
Her nominations were largely received from sectors such as the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, National People’s Congress, rural affairs body Heung Yee Kuk, agriculture and fisheries. None were from the pan-democratic camp.
On Monday, the Returning Officer for the election, Madam Justice Carlye Chu Fun-ling, ruled that Woo was a valid chief executive election candidate. Woo also had his 179 nominations validated, all of which were from the pan-democratic camp.
Seen as the underdog, despite being first to announce a run, Woo is viewed as a moderate pro-establishment figure with recognition from across the political spectrum.
Woo said: “I originally came forward to prevent Leung Chun-ying from getting another term ... now I am 200 per cent committed to preventing Carrie Lam from winning the race.”
Unlike the nomination procedure, the final poll uses a secret ballot.
“Come March 26, these Election Committee members will be able to exercise their free will,” Woo said.
He dismissed suggestions that his candidacy would boost Lam’s chances by splitting the votes of her opponents.
“The more candidates we have, the harder it will be for Lam to receive 601 or more votes in the first round of election,” he said.
If no candidate gets 601 votes on March 26, there will be a run-off election later that day between the candidates in first and second place.
Meanwhile, current Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has been nominated to become a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). He is also expected to be elected vice-chairman at the closing of the CPPCC’s annual session on March 13, which would effectively make him an elder statesman.
Speaking to reporters before attending his weekly cabinet meeting today, Leung said holding a dual role as CPPCC’s member and chief executive would not affect his running the city and undermine “one country, two systems” principle.