Pan-democrats tie up details of way to pick poll candidate

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 September, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 September, 2007, 12:00am

Pan-democrats yesterday hammered out more details of the method they have agreed for selecting a candidate to stand in a Legislative Council by-election.

Civic Party lawmaker Ronny Tong Ka-wah urged those interested in standing to step forward as soon as possible to help finalise the mechanism.

He said the selection process would formally begin on September 23, with a debate among would-be candidates before a live audience of pan-democrats, who would vote for their choice on the spot.

The results of the vote would not be disclosed until after further rounds of debates, televised for the public, so as not to affect public opinion, said Mr Tong.

Robert Chung Ting-yiu, director of the University of Hong Kong's public opinion programme, was suggested as a suitable person to monitor the voting and conduct the poll, although pan-democrats had yet to approach him about doing so, said Mr Tong.

Apart from September 23, there was no other deadline for would-be candidates, he said.

A working group, consisting of members not directly affiliated with would-be candidates, would finalise the rules for debate and arrangements for the broadcasting of debates, said Mr Tong.

There has been speculation about the possibility of former chief secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang putting herself forward for the by-election on Hong Kong Island, which was triggered by the death from cancer of Ma Lik, chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong.

Mr Tong said he had not seen any sign that Mrs Chan would do so.

'We've discussed this selection mechanism for over two weeks now, and we haven't formally heard any others express interest. We can't delay any longer,' he said.

'If Mrs Chan were to announce tomorrow that she wants to run for election, then of course, given her public standing, we pan-democrats would have to sit down and discuss [whether we still need this mechanism]. But at this stage, this is not an issue we need to discuss,' he said.

The Democratic Party and the League of Social Democrats (LSD) would confirm their contenders by the end of the week, said Mr Tong.

Kam Nai-wai is the only Democratic Party member to have formally expressed interest in seeking nomination for the by-election. Former legislator Cyd Ho Sau-lan had expressed interest in joining the fray, but bowed out yesterday. The LSD is expected to put someone forward.