In a surprise development, retired judge Woo Kwok-hing is to announce his run for Chief Executive on Thursday afternoon.
On Wednesday morning, a political news column in the Hong Kong Economic Journal and the Commercial Radio both reported that a “heavyweight” will join the election race. Ming Pao cited sources saying that it was Woo.
By the afternoon, Woo’s election campaign office had invited members of the press to attend a media conference on Thursday to confirm his run.
Woo, 70, reportedly met with people from different sectors to state his intention to run in the elections to be held in March next year.
Ronny Tong Ka-wah, convenor of the group Path of Democracy and former lawmaker, confirmed with Commercial Radio that Woo had notified him of the decision to run. Tong said he was surprised by Woo’s decision, and that he admired Woo’s courage.
Woo will likely be the first person to announce his candidacy. No-one else, including sitting Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, has openly declared their interest as yet.
Woo was appointed as Queen’s Counsel in 1987. He has served as a judge since 1992, and his highest role was the Vice-President of the Court of Appeal of the High Court.
He has served in multiple public roles including chairman of the government’s former election commission and later the Electoral Affairs Commission between 1993 and 2006. He was the first ever Commissioner on Interception of Communications and Surveillance between 2006 and 2012.
He was appointed by the government to be in charge of several investigations, namely the 1996 Garley Building fire, the chaotic start of the new airport in 1998 and an incident surrounding personnel issues at the former Hong Kong Institute of Education in 20o7.