Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has claimed that a sitting Chief Executive can run for re-election without resigning before the election. His office later clarified that that officials must resign before running.

cy leung
Leung Chun-ying. File photo: StandNews.

He was asked by reporters on Tuesday morning, ahead of the weekly Executive Council meeting, about an AM730 column written by Legislative Council President Jasper Tsang Yok-sing. Tsang wrote that incumbent Chief Executive running for re-election did not have to resign, but anyone working in the government, including top officials of bureaus and departments, must first resign before running.

Tsang said a sitting Chief Executive may enjoy “unfair advantages”, including private assistants and members of staff paid for with public funds. The public would not be able to differentiate as to whether such staffers were involved in the re-election campaigning.

Jasper Tsang Yok-sing
File Photo: Jasper Tsang Yok-sing. Photo: Gov HK.

In response, Leung said that “there have been past cases” of incumbent Chief Executives running when they were still in office.

“The Basic Law and – other laws of Hong Kong – do not have regulations stating that the Chief Executive or other officials cannot run when they are in office,” he said. “In fact, there are no such cases in foreign countries. So this should be said to be a practice existing in Hong Kong’s system, and has been used for some time… There have been practices like this internationally.”

CE must quit

However, the Chief Executive Office then published a response around two hours later, clarifying the criteria, which contradicted Leung’s words.

“According to the Chief Executive Election Ordinance, a person who holds the office of the Chief Executive for the second consecutive term; and a prescribed public officer who holds an office and is employed in a Government department or bureau, cannot be nominated as a candidate in the election of the Chief Executive,” a spokesperson for the office said.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.