Hong Kong’s election authority has confirmed May 8 as the date for the city’s leadership race, with the nomination period set to run from April 3 to 16.
The announcement, made through the government’s gazette on Friday, came a day after sources told the Post it was highly unlikely the chief executive race would be postponed again given the decline in the number of coronavirus infections in the city, as any further delay would cause more uncertainties Beijing did not want to see.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor on Friday remained coy when asked whether she would join the race or if Chief Secretary John Lee Ka-chiu or Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po would resign to run for the election.
“I won’t answer this question. But I can make a factual clarification: I did not receive any letter of resignation from any secretary or minister. If I did, I would need to report to the central government immediately and announce it,” she said.
On when she would decide whether to enter the race and her chances of being Beijing’s preferred candidate, Lam would only say: “I have no answer for you except to reiterate that according to the laws of Hong Kong, the nomination period for the next chief executive election will still [begin on] April 3.”
Apart from Lee and Chan, former city leader Leung Chun-ying and New People’s Party chairwoman Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee are among the names being touted as potential candidates.
But on Friday, Ip said she would not comment on the election. “There is no need to say anything as the nomination period has not yet started,” she said.
According to the announcement, Mr Justice Keith Yeung Kar-hung, a High Court judge, has been appointed by the Electoral Affairs Commission as the returning officer for the election.
To qualify as a candidate, a hopeful must obtain at least 188 nominations from the Election Committee’s 1,500 members, with no fewer than 15 nominations from each of the committee’s five sectors.
Completed nomination forms must be submitted in person to the returning officer at the City Gallery in Central. The deadline for submission is 5pm on April 14, as the following two days are the Easter public holidays.
Asked if Lee could be resigning soon, a spokesman for his office said it would not comment on speculation or rumours.
A source also said the suggestions that Lee could be resigning soon were “not true”, as the chief secretary had been focused on fighting the pandemic.
A spokeswoman for Chan’s office made similar remarks on Thursday. “The financial secretary is making a full effort in anti-epidemic work and will continue to follow up on the various measures proposed in the budget,” she said.