Vice-chairman tipped to run in Lee's place
Democratic Party vice-chairman Sin Chung-kai is expected to run in the Hong Kong Island geographical constituency in September's Legislative Council election.
The lawmaker representing the information and technology functional constituency had been tipped to stand for a Kowloon West seat but is likely to change his plans following Martin Lee Chu-ming's withdrawal.
The party will continue to field two tickets on the island despite Mr Lee's decision. It is widely tipped one will be led by Mr Sin and the other is expected to be led by independent Anson Chan Fang On-sang, followed by the Democrats' Central and Western district councillor Kam Nai-wai.
Speaking on a radio programme yesterday, Mr Lee admitted he did not want to see Mr Sin and James To Kun-sun, the party's incumbent lawmaker in Kowloon West, compete against each other. Mr Lee hinted his decision would clear the way for his colleague to run on the island: 'As I will not run, this may help to avoid direct clashes in Kowloon West.'
Mr Sin said he would keep an open mind on the possible move but insisted he would not appear on the same ticket with Mr Kam.
The party's chairman, Albert Ho Chun-yan, did not rule out the possibility that Mr Sin might join the race on the island. He said the party had no plans so far to field a combined ticket with Mrs Chan.
Regarding a possible joint run with the Democratic Party, Mrs Chan said she had made no decision and would take all opinions into consideration.
Yeung Sum, the party's incumbent lawmaker on the island, is expected to take second spot on one of the tickets.
He was worried that Mr Lee's decision might cost the party seats but said it had to make way for new blood in the long run.
Tsang Yok-sing, the veteran Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong legislator who is tipped to lead a ticket on the island for the Beijing-friendly camp, did not think the Democrats' move would improve the DAB's chances of winning at the election.
Li Gang, deputy director of the central government's liaison office, said he respected Mr Lee's decision but said he would have stepped down earlier.
'If I were him, I would rather have stepped down at 65.'