Bar on NPC veterans discounted
Suggestions that veteran NPC delegates had been discouraged from joining this year's election for local deputies on Friday have been dismissed by the election panel.
The dismissal came despite the fact that only 50 people submitted their applications after 63 forms had been collected.
A spokesman for the presidium of the election panel confirmed yesterday the 50 nominees would seek 36 seats for local deputies to the National People's Congress on Friday.
Half of the 50 candidates are incumbent local deputies and the other 25 are new candidates.
Asked if Beijing had persuaded senior local deputies not to run again, spokesman Lee Cho-jat said he believed nobody had interfered with the nomination process.
He added that some people might not be able to secure the minimum of 10 nominations needed to become a candidate, so their application forms were not submitted.
'Some Hong Kong people are curious,' Mr Lee said.
'They might want to take an application form and save it at home.'
In response to another rumour that Beijing had drawn up a shortlist of recommended candidates for the electoral conference, Mr Lee said it showed Hong Kong people's enthusiasm for the poll.
'Shortlists [of candidates] are rumoured to be found everywhere ... It shows that Hong Kong people are very enthusiastic to participate in the election,' he said.
It is believed that Beijing has told some of the senior members not to stand again this year to make way for new blood.
Among those not running are Sik Chi-wai, 74, and Tsang Hin-chi, who will be 74 next month.
The number of candidates standing in the last election, held in 2002, was 78.
'More candidates does not mean better quality,' Mr Lee said.
'We think these 50 candidates are highly representative of the local community.'
Among the candidates, former Independent Commission Against Corruption chief Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun secured the highest number of nominations with 437, and assistant director of the central government's liaison office Wang Rudeng secured 379 nominations.
Pro-democracy candidates James To Kun-sun, Chong Chan-yong and Frederick Fung Kin-kee, registered less than 30 nominations each.