‘Long Hair’ admits he might fall short on public support for Hong Kong chief executive run

Legislator still off target of 37,790 votes in unofficial poll

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 09 February, 2017, 1:13pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 09 February, 2017, 2:21pm

Legislator Leung Kwok-hung, a new and unlikely contender in the chief executive election, admitted he could struggle to get the public support necessary to join the race for the city’s top job.

Leung, better known as “Long Hair”, announced on Wednesday that he might join the race, if he got 37,790 votes from the public – 1 per cent of the city’s registered voters – in an unofficial poll held by post-Occupy protest group Citizens United in Action.

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A group of pro-democracy activists and academics launched the unofficial poll to allow public participation in what is largely seen as a “small circle” election for the city’s leader.

The 1,194 members of the city’s election committee pick the chief executive. To be on that ballot, an entrant needs 150 nominations from members of the same committee. They then need at least 601 votes to win the job.

Leung, a pan-democrat from the League of Social Democrats, estimated he would need 3,300 votes from the public every day to meet the 1 per cent threshold in the unofficial poll. Some pan-democratic Election Committee members have said Leung should only be considered for nomination if he can make that amount.

By lunchtime on Thursday, Leung had 3,011 votes, Former financial secretary John Tsang Chun-wah led the poll with 6,386 votes, according to the referendum website.

The public can register to nominate a candidate on popvote.hk until 22 February.

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“I believe there is a certain difficulty in order to get at least 37,000 votes... and right now I am falling behind,” Leung said on an RTHK radio programme on Thursday morning.

Leung put himself forward after some pan-democratic Election Committee members indicated they would support Tsang, whom they regard as a “lesser evil” among pro-establishment candidates.

“Tsang has said: ‘I always agree with my boss’. At that time, his boss was Leung Chun-ying, but if he is chief executive, his boss will be the Communist Party,” Leung said on another radio programme on Thursday. He was citing a line that Tsang used when asked if he agreed with Leung Chun-ying taking responsibility for a controversial public housing project in Wang Chau, Yuen Long, in September.

By Thursday, at least 11,000 people had voted for 12 candidates in the unofficial referendum.

Following Leung, former judge Woo Kwok-hing had 1,675 votes. Former chief secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor had 86 votes, and Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee had 67.

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The civil referendum website was designed based on Telegram, a popular instant messaging smartphone app, that was also used in a similar poll conducted by Occupy co-founder Benny Tai Yiu-ting during the Legislative Council elections.

Angus Chiu Chi-fan, spokesman for Civic Data Hong Kong, which helped create the programme, said they could not completely eliminate cybersecurity risks, which the app itself also faced.

Chiu said hackers could steal information, such as other personal Telegram conversations.

But he said the risk was minimal, considering most voters in Hong Kong are WhatsApp users, and only downloaded Telegram for one-time use.

Telegram is ranked the third most secure app after Facebook-owned WhatsApp and Apple’s iMessage worldwide, according to an Amnesty International report from October.