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The Legco chamber in Tamar. Photo: Felix Wong

4 Hong Kong Legco seats up for grabs just before Christmas, government officials say

  • By-elections to be held on December 18 for seats left vacant after incumbents quit to join cabinet or fill other senior roles in John Lee government
  • Two-week nomination period for candidates will start on November 1, Registration and Electoral Office says

By-elections will be held a week before Christmas to fill four seats in Hong Kong’s legislature vacated by Beijing loyalist lawmakers who took up ministerial posts or other senior roles in John Lee Ka-chiu’s administration in July.

The announcement of December 18 as the date by the city’s electoral office came four months after the chief executive unveiled his cabinet, which included the four politicians who entered Legco through the new Election Committee constituency for just half a year.

The Registration and Electoral Office said on Tuesday that the two-week nomination period for the by-elections would start on November 1.

“If the number of validly nominated candidates is more than four, a poll will be held on December 18,” officials said.

All seats in the Election Committee constituency, created by Beijing under its electoral overhaul to ensure “patriots administering Hong Kong”, were returned by the 1,500-strong Election Committee packed with Beijing loyalists.

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The committee is also responsible for nominating all candidates for the Legislative Council and the city’s leadership elections, as well as for choosing the chief executive.

Members of the committee voted from among 51 candidates on December 19 last year to send 40 members to the chamber to become the largest group in Legco.

The other two groups of the 90-strong legislature are the 20-member geographical constituency, and 30-member trade-based functional constituency.

Eyes are on whether those who failed to be elected last December would consider a comeback attempt in December.

Lan Kwai Fong group chairman Allan Zeman, 73, told the Post: “That’s a million dollar question.”

“I really need to give this a lot of thought. It’s still a long time before the nomination period starts.”

Allan Zeman, the chairman of the Lan Kwai Fong group, considers his position after Legco by-elections date announced. Photo: Edmond So

Others who lost in December included former government officials Mike Rowse, 72, and Andrew Fung Wai-kwong, 60.

Observers said that the city’s largest Beijing loyalist party, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB), could nominate district councillor Jody Kwok Fu-yung, former district council chairman Chris Ip Ngo-tung, or ex-home affairs chief Caspar Tsui Ying-wai to fill the seats.

But Ip insisted that it was too early to say who would contest the seats.

“We don’t know who will run yet, because our party has yet to talk about it. I think it’s better to wait for some discussion first,” he said.

For the other pro-establishment parties, New People’s Party member Adrian Ho, the Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong member Jeffrey Pong Chiu-fai, an ophthalmologist, and Third Side vice-chairman Caspar Wong Chun-long, were also tipped to run.

Wong said his middle-of-the-road party had been “actively considering” fielding a candidate.

“We need some internal deliberation, and assess whether we can secure enough nominations,” he added.

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Democratic Party chairman Lo Kin-hei said there had been no internal discussions on the by-elections, as he saw “no chance of winning” seats in this constituency.

The opposition party has no representation in the Legco after all seven members resigned in protest against a decision of the country’s top legislature in 2020 that empowered the city government to unseat politicians without having to go through the courts.

The four lawmakers from the Election Committee constituency who joined Lee’s administration in July were Horace Cheung Kwok-kwan, Alice Mak Mei-kuen, Sun Dong and Nelson Lam Chi-yuen, who took up the roles as the deputy justice secretary, the home affairs chief, the technology minister, and the audit director respectively.

The spokesman for the electoral office said potential candidates for the by-elections did not have to be a member of the Election Committee, but they had to be Chinese citizens with Hong Kong permanent residency and aged 21 or over.

They must also be a registered geographical constituency elector who has ordinarily lived in Hong Kong for three years before the date of the nomination.

Candidates must not have the right of abode in any other country.

Each hopeful must also be nominated by 10 to 20 members of the Election Committee to qualify for the race.