Hong Kong chief executive contender John Tsang snags 11 more pan-democrat nominations

Former financial secretary remains well short of the 150 nominations needed to join the race and is neck-and-neck with Woo Kwok-hing in securing pan-democrat backing

PUBLISHED : Monday, 20 February, 2017, 10:06pm
UPDATED : Monday, 20 February, 2017, 10:39pm

The popular underdog in the chief executive election, John Tsang Chun-wah, was given a boost on Monday night by bagging 11 more nominations from the pan-democratic camp. This brought his total to 67 – still well short of the 150 nominations needed to become a formal candidate.

The development came as chief executive contenders continued to lobby for support from the 1,194-strong Election Committee before nominations close on March 1. The committee will elect the city’s next leader on March 26.

Six more members from Academics in Support of Democracy, an alliance of 30 higher education voters, on Monday handed in their nomination forms to Tsang, the city’s former finance chief.

Five members of the alliance nominated Tsang last week, while six named retired judge Woo Kwok-hing, who is also vying for pan-democrat support.

“Woo is now ahead of Tsang in bagging nominations from the pro-democracy camp and I am very worried that Tsang will eventually fall short,” said Roger Wong Hoi-fung, one of the scholars who backed the ex-finance chief.

“Tsang has been leading in the polls and it would definitely go against public opinion should he fail to get in.”

The Demo-social Front, formed by 22 pan-democrat voters from the social welfare sector, decided to allocate five nominations each to Tsang and Woo after meeting on Monday night. The remaining 12 voters will wait until the last minute to make a choice on whichever of the two fails to secure enough backing.

Tsang is in an uphill battle against former chief secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, who is perceived as Beijing’s favoured candidate even though she lags behing Tsang in opinion polls.

It is thought Tsang can secure at most 50 nominations from the pro-establishment camp and is in a tight race with Woo in securing pan-democrat support.

Woo had 69 nominations as of Monday.

Meanwhile, another hopeful, Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, revealed that “a number of” local delegates to the National People’s Congress would nominate her, but there was still a long way for her to meet the required 150 endorsements.

“I am making an emergency appeal ... I hope [the pan-democrats] can boost the competitiveness of the election and send a combative contender to the race [by naming me],” she said.

Ip had earlier warned that it would be difficult for Beijing to win the support of pan-democrats in future even if she had to drop her candidacy because “nominations were withheld” from her.

Cheng Yiu-tong, a veteran Beijing loyalist and senior advisor to Lam’s campaign, refused to comment on Ip’s remarks and asked her instead to “work hard”.

Cheng, a heavyweight of the Federation of Trade Unions, said he would nominate Lam, but would leave it to federation president Lam Shuk-yee to decide how the group should use its substantial number of votes.