Chief executive hopeful John Tsang wins first significant nominations from Hong Kong pan-democrats

Front runner Carrie Lam receives en bloc support from Heung Yee Kuk, while Woo Kwok-hing makes emergency plea for support after getting just three nominations

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 14 February, 2017, 10:54pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 February, 2017, 11:54am

As the formal nomination process for the chief executive election opened on Tuesday, John Tsang Chun-wah finally got his first significant support from pan-democrats, while front runner Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor received yet another boost from the rural affairs body, the Heung Yee Kuk.

Another candidate, Woo Kwok-hing, meanwhile, is making an emergency call, saying he had only received three nominations so far.

Watch: John Tsang unveils his election manifesto

A chief executive aspirant needs 150 nominations to qualify and more than 600 votes to win in the poll on March 26. Once one gathers 150 forms, he or she can submit them to the electoral office to ask to be accepted as a formal candidate.

Tsang, former financial secretary, won 24 nominations from the accountancy subsector in the 1,194-strong Election Committee.

With Beijing’s liaison office actively lobbying for his arch-rival Lam, Tsang has been struggling to seek support from the pro-establishment camp and is expected to be heavily reliant on the pan-democrats, who dominate the committee’s professional subsectors and have enough votes to send two candidates into the race.

Lam’s nominations are estimated to have reached 300 to 400.

Following a meeting with Tsang, Democratic Action Accountants, a part of Democrats 300+, a loose alliance of pan-democrats, announced it would hand 17 nominations to Tsang.

“Popularity is an important consideration,” group spokeswoman Lee Suk-yee said. “Hong Kong urgently needs a CE who is capable of uniting society.”

“When deciding who to nominate, we also think there should be a good competition, and we should ensure more candidates fitting the basic requirements can enter the race. It will bring more meaning into the candidate debates,” she said.

The group will reserve another four of its votes to be used “strategically” at a later stage. It stressed they would not necessarily vote for the same candidate they nominated.

Dennis Kwok, Civic Party lawmaker and co-ordinator of Democrats 300+, said the camp would likewise divide their nominations among Tsang and Woo, taking reference from the results of a mock election poll.

Together with two other groups of accountants, Tsang has bagged 24 nominations from this sector, which is dominated by pan-democrats.

In the medical sector, Tsang has so far bagged two nominations, but is likely to win eight more from doctors. Five representatives from the higher education sector pledged support for him on Monday.

Meanwhile, the Heung Yee Kuk, which holds 27 seats in the Election Committee , announced .on Tuesday it would nominate Lam en bloc, following earlier disagreements on the issue.

While Tsang, Woo and the other candidate, Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, have all delivered platforms proposing to reform the controversial small-house policy for indigenous villagers, Lam has yet to state her stance on the issue.

In a radio show on Tuesday, Lam said she had confidence that she could secure enough nominations. Asked what it meant if she were able to get 600 nominations, she said that would mean “she had wide-ranging support”.