Former health secretary Ko Wing-man has said he will not run in the upcoming legislative by-election in November, as he does not have time to be a lawmaker and a doctor at the same time.

Ko, who was among the most popular principal officials before leaving the government last year, had been rumoured to run in the Kowloon West constituency. He could have potentially faced disqualified pro-democracy lawmaker Lau Siu-lai in the race. But on Friday, Ko formally announced that he will not run.

“The main reason is my work – I have been saying that for my clinical work, I must ensure my patients are continuously being taken care of,” he said after an event on Friday. “If I win, it would be impossible for me to do the work of a lawmaker and my clinical work, as well as my voluntary work in Hong Kong and overseas.”

Ko Wing-man
Ko Wing-man. Photo:

He also said he may need to spend time on medical developments in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area.

“It would be hard to live up to the standard I set for a lawmaker,” he said.

Rebecca Chan, a former journalist who was Ko’s political assistant at the Food and Health Bureau, has been tipped to run.

Ko said they had worked together for five years, and he will support whatever decision she makes.

Rebecca Chan
Rebecca Chan (front row, second from left). File Photo: GovHK.

New People’s Party lawmaker Regina Ip has said on Thursday that Ko had joined her party as a consultant. She also said Chan was a friend to her party and praised her for working hard and for being amicable.

“I hope Rebecca can continue with Dr. Ko’s heart to serve Hong Kong,” she said. “If she is willing to serve Hong Kong more, I will definitely support her fully.”

Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong lawmaker Vincent Cheng, who won in the March by-election in Kowloon West, said the pro-establishment camp will coordinate a suitable figure to run as soon as possible.

Asked if Ko’s decision was made very late, Cheng said: “We understand Dr. Ko’s decision. He needed time to consider. It was a big issue and he indeed needed time.”

Ko Wing-man Scott Leung
Ko Wing-man (centre) and Scott Leung (right). Photo:

Scott Leung, a Sham Shui Po district councillor of the Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong, was also rumoured to be a potential candidate.

Leung said coordination efforts in his camp have yet to finish: “The camp has to unite together.”

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.