Potential Hong Kong chief executive candidate Woo Kwok-hing reveals he has applied to renounce British citizenship

Under the Basic Law, the chief executive must be a Chinese national without right of abode in other countries

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 November, 2016, 7:33am
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 December, 2016, 9:41am

Potential chief executive candidate Woo Kwok-hing disclosed on Thursday that he had recently filed to renounce his British nationality and was confident the process would be completed before the nomination period started – probably early next year.

The chief executive election will be held on March 26.

The high-profile retired judge, who last month became the first person to formally declare his intention to run in the race to become the city’s next leader, said he recently filed an application but he failed to remember the date, saying only it was before he announced his potential candidacy.

Woo Kwok-hing in Facebook Live Q&A with SCMP politics reporter Joyce Ng

Woo, chairman of the Electoral Affairs Commission from 1993 to 2006 and former vice-president of the Court of Appeal, was responding to questions from Democratic Party chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing during a media interview.

He said he thought the procedures were simple and therefore he did not do it immediately after he decided to run between late March and April this year, when he was still busy with court work.

His claim drew an immediate challenge from Lau, who said the normal procedures would take three to four months. She questioned why he did not complete the procedures before he announced his decision.

Woo insisted he would be fine as long as the renunciation was completed on the day nominations started. He also said his application was registered as he was notified by the British authorities.

He told the press after the interview he filed the application about two to three months ago. “Not that I did not prepare well [for the race], I was just too busy and forgot to do it,” he said.

Woo obtained British citizenship in 1993 when he was a High Court judge. “All High Court judges had [the offer] ... Sure you could choose not to take it. but would a Hongkonger [like me] reject it?” he said.