Anson Chan
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Rival candidates find themselves on similar ground

Anson Chan

The candidates for the Legislative Council by-election began their first weekend of campaigning on the same turf yesterday.

Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee targeted North Point - a bastion of Beijing loyalists - while Anson Chan Fang On-sang was down the road in Quarry Bay.

Before venturing onto the streets, Mrs Ip told Commercial Radio about the changes she might need to make if she was to win the election.

She admitted she was quick to anger, spoke too fast, could be imprudent, sometimes made frivolous remarks and easily offended people.

But self-criticism plays a part in any election campaign. 'If you really want to do something for the Hong Kong people, you have to have introspection to win people's support,' said Mrs Ip, who has already issued one mea culpa. When she launched her campaign, she apologised for things she had said while trying to push through national security legislation as security minister in 2003.

Mrs Ip said the city's education and pollution problems were causing popular concern. Students' language abilities were slipping, she said.

Meanwhile, Mrs Chan handed out leaflets to passers-by outside Tai Koo MTR station. She insisted she was ready to face any criticism.

The former chief secretary said she had 'spoken out on important issues' about which local people are concerned since leaving government in 2001.

She made no direct reference to her rival, but when asked if she would be making any self-criticisms, she said she had no personal baggage to unburden herself of.

Mrs Chan will learn today whether the pan-democratic camp has chosen her or the League of Social Democrats' Lo Wing-lok as its candidate for the December 2 by-election.

She was joined on the streets by Civic Party leader Audrey Eu Yuet-mee, who was among pan-democrats urging people to join a rally next Sunday in Victoria Park in support of universal suffrage in 2012. Organisers want participants to unfurl umbrellas to spell out 2-0-1-2, and hope 10,000 will turn out and create a Guinness World Record.

Booths were set up in several districts yesterday to register rally participants.

Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen said last night that if either Mrs Chan or Mrs Ip won the seat, it would make one of them just the second person to have held both a legislative seat and a government position since the handover, with himself being the first. He described them both as 'good candidates', but went on to say he did not believe Mrs Chan, or any other individual, could fully unite the pan-democrats.

Consultation on the government's green paper on political reform ends next week. Pan-democrats hope the universal suffrage issue will help them win seats in November's district council elections, for which they are putting up 289 candidates.