New People’s Party lawmaker and chairwoman Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee has withdrawn from the 2017 chief executive election as she failed to secure 150 nominations ahead of today’s deadline.
Ip said her nominations were far from the minimum 150, but she didn’t say how many she had secured. In a press conference earlier today she announced that she had stopped her election campaign and would be focusing on her work in the Legislative Council.
Asked whether Beijing told her not to join the election, she said no one had asked her not to run. “As I said before, I have been lagging behind other candidates in the race ... I wanted my image to be that of an ‘open-minded’ pro-establishment candidate. I have been reaching out to people from different political backgrounds. I tried my best during my 77-day election campaign after I declared my candidacy on December 15.
“However, the limitations of the system have stopped me from running for the top job. It’s hard for four pro-establishment candidates to split the 1,194 nominations from the Election Committee members,” Ip says. She declined to say whether or not she would run for the top job in five years time.
This is the second time Ip has dropped out of the chief executive election. In 2012, she withdrew her candidacy because she could not secure enough votes before the nomination deadline.
Nominations close at 5pm today. Former chief secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, former financial secretary John Tsang Chun-wah and retired judge Woo Kwok-hing submitted their nominations. The returning officer for the election, Madam Justice Carlye Chu Fun-ling, ruled the trio were valid chief executive election candidates. The election will be held on March 26. The winning candidate needs to secure at least 601 votes.
Ivan Choy Chi-keung, a political scientist at Chinese University, told Young Post earlier today that Ip didn’t have enough nominations because most pro-establishment camp were supporting Lam. “Pan-democrats gave their votes to candidates who shared their political beliefs. Ip and Lam then need to ask for support from the pro-establishment camp. As Beijing would ‘prefer’ Lam to be Hong Kong’s next leader, most nominations have been given to Lam. It’s harder for Ip to secure votes from both camps,” he says.
Polytechnic University political scientist Dr Chung Kim-wah analysed where the nominations of the 1,194 Election Committee members went. “Tsang and Woo bagged 160 and 179 nominations from the pan-democrats, where as Lam secured 579 nominations. The remaining 350 Election Committee members were mainly from the labour sectors and District Councils. But I believe the labour sectors, especially the Federation of Trade Unions, will support Lam after Beijing ‘openly’ backs her. Ip was always going to struggle to get the remaining votes,” says Chung.
At 7pm on Sunday, a think tank called Path of Democracy, co-founded by former Civic Party legislator Ronny Tong Ka-wah, proposed a chief executive election debate at Pui Ching Primary School, Kowloon. Lam and Woo were the only ones to tell Tong that they would attend.
Tong, who will also be a host in the debate, surprised that Tsang would not come. “It’s a basic responsibility for election candidates to attend the debate, as it plays a vital role in the whole race. The candidates can answer questions from the public at this event,” Tong said today.