LegCo race is competitve, says John Lee

Chief Secretary John Lee on Saturday said the revamped electoral system has attracted many new faces and candidates from across the political spectrum to run for December’s Legislative Council elections, dismissing concerns that the future Legco will have no opposition.

Lee, who chairs a vetting committee that has given the green light to all but one of the 154 hopefuls to run in the elections, made the comment during a seminar on One Country, Two Systems and the Basic Law. Lau Tsz-Chun, who hoped to run in the functional constituency race for the medical and health services sector seat, was disqualified because he works part-time in a government department.

Lee said the new electoral system has attracted many who wish to serve the community to join the race, adding that for some functional constituencies which used to have no competition, more than one candidate has thrown their hat into the ring.

He said he believes candidates will garner voters’ support by engaging in rational debates over their election platforms, rather than having low-quality shouting matches like candidates in the past.

Speaking at the same event, the secretary-general of the Liaison Office, Wang Songmiao, said the vetting criteria for candidates coming from different political backgrounds and sectors is consistent and the vetting process was impartial.

He said he believes the revamped electoral system will help Hong Kong people rule the city, and improve the SAR’s democracy.

Maria Tam, a deputy director the NPCSC’s Basic Law committee, said the vetting committee’s decision on candidates’ eligibility was fair and has helped improve the legitimacy of the upcoming elections.

Former Legco president Rita Fan said the fact that some former lawmakers had “made a fool of themselves” by asking the US to impose sanctions on China and Hong Kong showed that the city’s electoral system had been problematic.

Fan said lawmakers in future should have a broad vision of the world, of the country, and of Hong Kong. They should be accountable not only to their own sectors and constituencies, but must stand firm in supporting the country’s development in the face of western countries’ pressure on China, she said.