As the chief executive nomination period reaches its first weekend, contender Carrie Lam has reportedly received many more nominations than the minimum 150 required to be named an official candidate.

Rival John Tsang, however, has possibly only received a few dozen nominations from the small-circle Election Committee, which comprises 1,200 Hongkongers allowed to nominate candidates and cast votes. A very small number have pledged their nominations for candidates Regina Ip and Woo Kwok-hing.

Carrie Lam (L), John Tsang (R). File Photos: GovHK.

The chief executive nomination period began on February 14, and will end on March 1. Candidates who receive over 150 nominations will become official contenders for Hong Kong’s top job, and the Election Committee vote will take place on March 26.

Carrie Lam

Former chief secretary Lam – rumoured to be “the only candidate supported by Beijing” – reportedly received the requisite number of nominations within several hours.

Sectors within the Election Committee that have pledged all of their nominations for Lam in recent days include: the Hong Kong members of national advisory body Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (51 votes), the powerful rural body Heung Yee Kuk (27 votes), and the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce (18 votes).

On Monday, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, the city’s largest pro-establishment party with some 100 votes, “recommended” Lam to its electors, as did the Business and Professionals Alliance with some 20 votes. Neither of the parties explicitly ordered its members to vote for Lam, however.

Carrie Lam at her election rally. Photo: HKFP/Kris Cheng.

HK01 estimated that by the end of the first nomination day, Lam had already received more than 200 nominations.

John Tsang

Opinion polls appear to show that former financial secretary Tsang is the more popular candidate among members of the public. However, this is not reflected at all in terms of Election Committee nominations, where he is far behind Lam.

On Monday, five electors from the higher education sector publicly signed their nomination forms in favour of him. The following day he received support from some 20 electors from the accounting sector.

Barrister Alan Leong told reporters on Wednesday that some of the 30 pro-democracy legal sector electors will spilt their vote between Tsang and retired judge Woo Kwok-hing.

On Thursday, the pro-democracy Democratic Party, with some 30 electors, decided to recommend that its members nominate Tsang. Chairman Wu Chi-wai said he hoped that “there would be some competition in the election.”

John Tsang. Photo: Facebook.

But overall, the response to Tsang has been in stark contrast to the hundreds who have already nominated, or pledged to nominate, Lam.

Other candidates

Former security chief Regina Ip will reportedly receive nominations from all 14 electors from her New People’s Party. On Thursday, she said that she would receive two more nominations from the religious sector – specifically Taoist electors.

Six higher education sector electors decided to nominate Woo Kwok-hing on Wednesday, taking his reported total number of nominations to ten.

Public nominations

Pro-democracy lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung is seeking unofficial nominations from members of the public via an online platform. He says that if he receives 37,790 public nominations – corresponding to one per cent of Hong Kong’s registered electorate – he will seek to run as an official candidate, canvassing official nominations from pro-democracy Election Committee members.

The platform was temporarily suspended on Tuesday, but Leung is now seeking nominations at street booths. As of Tuesday 4am, he has received 5,349 public nominations.

Civil nomination booth in Wanchai. Photo: HKFP/Ellie Ng.

John Tsang has received the most public nominations with 8,146, while Woo Kwok-hing has received 2,133.

Elson Tong

Elson Tong is a graduate of international relations and former investigations consultant. He has also written for Stand News.