Starter's gun to fire on February 14 in race for chief; nominations end March 1 The campaign for the chief executive election will officially start on February 14, when the nomination of candidates will begin, the government announced yesterday. Nominations will close on March 1 ahead of a vote on March 25. Alan Leong Kah-kit, the sole declared candidate, made the first move yesterday, obtaining a nomination form. 'My canvassing for nominations begins immediately,' he said. His likely challenger, incumbent Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, is still preparing to enter the race. On Thursday he said he was working on his platform ahead of a formal announcement of his candidacy. Mr Leong, a Civic Party legislator, has the backing of fellow pan-democrats in the race. His supporters will hold a rally today in Chater Garden, Central, where they will put their names on his form. Candidates have to collect nominations from 100 members of the 800-strong Election Committee which will vote for the next chief executive. 'I am very confident of getting the 100 votes, and I am also confident of getting some support from outside the 134 [Election Committee members who have already pledged their support],' Mr Leong said. 'I will seek the support of all Election Committee members, whether they have already stated they support me or not.' He said he had already sent out 500 personally signed letters, and still had 300 more to sign. Mr Leong urged Mr Tsang to commit to a live, televised debate. He said it would match his people-led style of governance against Mr Tsang's 'paternalistic' style. 'The people of Hong Kong have waited far too long for this debate to come about,' he said. Sources from the pro-government camp said Mr Tsang was likely to declare his candidacy early next month. 'It takes time for Donald Tsang to boost publicity for his election campaign,' one source said. 'It would be too late for him to declare his bid in the second or third week of next month because it is too close to the Lunar New Year.' A member of the Election Committee warned that Mr Tsang would be disadvantaged if he declared too late. 'Some fellow Election Committee members complained earlier that the Tsang team had yet to approach them, warning that he should not take their support for granted,' the committee member said. Wong Kwok-kin, a Hong Kong deputy to the National People's Congress, said it was a 'legitimate expectation' that Mr Tsang would declare his bid for re-election early next month. 'It would be too late for him to declare his candidacy in the middle of next month,' he said. It is widely believed that Mr Tsang will set up his campaign office in the Bank of East Asia Harbour View Centre in Wan Chai, the same location he used when he ran in 2005.