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Legislative Council of Hong Kong

Popular former health minister Ko Wing-man considers running in Hong Kong by-election

‘There are people approaching me’ for Kowloon West constituency by-election, Ko confirms with Post

PUBLISHED : Monday, 04 June, 2018, 8:33am
UPDATED : Monday, 04 June, 2018, 10:43am

Hong Kong’s former health minister Dr Ko Wing-man on Sunday confirmed he was considering offering himself to the pro-establishment camp as a candidate for an expected Legislative Council by-election.

But the popular Ko, an orthopaedic surgeon who served as secretary for food and health in former chief executive Leung Chun-ying’s administration for five years, said he would not make a final decision for some time.

The by-election in the Kowloon West constituency could come as early as the end of this year following a decision last week by ousted lawmaker Lau Siu-lai to withdraw her appeal against a court ruling that disqualified her over improper oath-taking.

Six opposition politicians were stripped of their Legco seats in the oath-taking saga. Four seats were filled after a by-election in March, but because of appeals by Lau and “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung, two seats remained vacant.

Leung said he would still go ahead with his appeal.

Both the pro-establishment and opposition camps have been gearing up for the by-election.

Asked about speculation that the pro-establishment camp wanted him to run in the Kowloon West by-election, Ko said: “There are people approaching me, as some media reported.”

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He added: “Our legislature needs people who have a heart to serve and walk with Hongkongers to build a better Hong Kong. I also hope legislators will do real work, not just shout political slogans.

“No matter my final decision, or if it ends up that there are other candidates emerging, I will support them so long as they meet my expectations.

“My most important principle is that I hope my clinical work will not be affected.”

Political appointees need special approval from a government panel if they want to take up employment within one year of leaving office. Ko was given the green light and had started his private practice last August.

Ko was the most popular minister in Leung Chun-ying’s cabinet. His support rate had for most of his term hovered over 70 per cent. Last June, in the final month of his term, it was at 77.4 per cent.

In January, Beijing appointed him to the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, China’s top political advisory body.

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The pan-democrats, meanwhile, have been negotiating among parties to see whether they should hold primaries to choose a candidate for the by-election, simply let Lau run again or field a candidate she preferred, such as former lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan of the Labour Party.

Speculation has arisen that veteran pan-democrat Frederick Fung Kin-kee, of the Association for Democracy and People’s Livelihood, is so keen to mount a Legco comeback bid that he might quit the party to run as an independent should his candidacy not be supported by the camp.

Fung lost in the camp’s primaries last time and was not chosen to run in the March by-election.