As Hong Kong’s chief executive race kicked off officially Sunday with voters turning out in record numbers to choose an Election Committee, a still coy Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah dropped yet another hint of his desire to contest, with sources indicating he was likely to resign from his post as early as Monday. Such a move could leave Beijing in a tight spot with not one but possibly three pro-establishment contenders in the race. If this did happen, a split of votes in the pro-establishment bloc could give the pan-democrats a bigger say in the outcome. This year in Hong Kong, electing the electors proves a relative stab in the dark A well-placed source who is helping Tsang’s campaign said he was “very likely to tender his resignation today [Monday]”. Tsang’s office said it would not comment on any speculation. Earlier in the day, Tsang wrote in his blog that if the people were with him, he would not fear any challenges – a line many read as him steeling himself to jump into the fray despite not getting the much-vaunted “green light” from Beijing. At 1.40am Monday, Electoral Affairs Commission chairman Mr Justice Barnabas Fung Wah said the city notched a record turnout at 46 per cent of eligible voters and a record number of voters, with 107,000 of about 230,000 casting their ballots for 733 seats of the 1,194-member Election Committee, which will choose the chief executive in March. Watch: CY Leung announces his decision not to seek re-election The city’s election mood heightened over the weekend after beleaguered Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying made a surprise announcement he was not seeking a second term for family reasons. While pan-democrats had feared his shock move would dampen turnout among its supporters now left without an arch-enemy, their fears did not pan out. Analysts expect the high turnout to benefit the camp which is seeking a bigger share of seats. The 1,194-member Committee is elected by representatives from four key sectors of the economy and society, many of which are deemed to be pro-establishment and supportive of the central government. In his official blog Sunday, Tsang, viewed as friendlier to the pan-democrats, looked back fondly on his nearly decade-long tenure as financial secretary. “As long as you continue to walk with me, why should I fear the challenges lying ahead,” he wrote, as he shared an anecdote about his encounter with a woman on the MTR eight years ago. She had slipped him note which read: “Inflation. Hong Kong dollar devaluation.” “This citizen hoped to remind me to take appropriate measures to relieve the pain of grassroots lives,” he said. “The slip remained on my desk for some time to remind me of people’s expectations of me and that I must have the people in mind in my public service. It is this sense of responsibility and mission that drove me to deliver my best over the years.” Accompanying the blog was a picture of the note on his desk. In Beijing’s eyes, Tsang is too close to the pan-democrats Dr James Sung, City U political scientist Observers said the possible candidacy of Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, who revealed on Saturday she was mulling over the job , had put Tsang in an awkward situation, compounded by rumours that Beijing had given him the “red light”. Another pro-establishment figure, Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, is likely to announce her candidacy on Thursday. City University political scientist Dr James Sung lap-kung said: “In Beijing’s eyes, Tsang is too close to the pan-democrats. “And his participation in the race could affect the unity of the pro-establishment camp. He can choose to go ahead without Beijing’s blessing, but I’m not sure if his supporters in the business sector could dare to continue their support against Beijing’s will.” Chief Executive’s decision not to seek re-election changes nothing for Hong Kong, locals say Lam said over the weekend that one factor was the need to ensure the fruition of government policies. “That seems to suggest a hint to Beijing that she can be another Leung,” Sung said. Chinese University political analyst Ma Ngok said if Tsang went ahead despite the central government’s objections, Beijing “would probably do something to make sure he cannot get the minimum 150 nominations”. All chief executive hopefuls must get at least 150 nominations from the committee before they can run. The committee will then vote in a secret ballot. The winner must get at least 600 votes or the voting goes into a second round. Whoever leads Hong Kong next will find housing thorniest issue On whether the smooth running of Leung’s government would suffer if both Lam and Tsang resigned to enter the race, Ma said: “The Leung administration is going to become a lame duck very soon. He will not introduce drastic measures, even with them there.” Pan-democrats have rejected Lam and hope to win more than 300 seats in the Election Committee to enjoy bigger bargaining power during the vote. The bloc won 205 seats in 2011. Results were expected early Monday.