Hong Kong election: Who are potential candidates after Leung Chun Ying quits race?

Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying (centre) holds a press conference in Hong Kong on Dec 9, 2016.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying (centre) holds a press conference in Hong Kong on Dec 9, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

Hong Kong's Chief Executive Leung Chun Ying said on Friday (Dec 9) that he would not seek re-election in 2017 but step down at the end of his term in July, citing family reasons. With Mr Leung preparing to exit the stage, a number of possible contenders are reportedly getting ready to vie for the top post in the south Chinese city. Let's take a look at who they are.

Mr Woo Kwok Hing, 70

Retired judge Woo Kwok Hing attends a news conference to announce his run for chief executive in Hong Kong on Oct 27, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

The former justice was the first to announce his candidacy on Oct 27, saying Hong Kong "has become too polarised and fragmented".

Mr Woo said he believes he has what it takes to lead Hong Kong.

"I believe my experience as barrister and judge in the past 46 years has imparted in me a deep understanding of multiple aspects of Hong Kong society and culture," said Mr Woo, who was chairman of the Electoral Affairs Commission from 1993 to 2006 and also vice- president of the Court of Appeal.

Mrs Regina Ip, 66

New People's Party chairman Regina Ip speaks at during a Bloomberg television interview in 2014 . PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

Mrs Ip, a former secretary for security, is now heading the New People's Party. She expressed interest in running for election in a radio interview in October.

But she did not reveal details of her leadership bid, only describing herself as a "likely candidate" when asked about her plans on Wednesday (Dec 7).

She has been actively lobbying in the lead up to an official announcement at a rally on Dec 15, Hong Kong media reported.

Former chief secretary David Akers-Jones, 89, became the first political heavyweight to pledge his support for Mrs Ip. He backed Mr Leung in the 2012 chief executive election.

Mr Jasper Tsang, 70

Former Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang in 2012. PHOTO: HONG KONG ORIENTAL DAILY NEWS

The former Legislative Council president said he would consider standing for the election if his precipitation would facilitate "genuine competition".

He said in an interview in September that he would not have to join the race "if another candidate shares the same vision" with him.

He was featured on the front cover of Time in September and called by the magazine "Hong Kong's hope".

"In acting as a bridge builder among pro- and anti-China forces in Hong Kong, the veteran politician could be the city's best hope," the magazine said.

But Mr Tsang joked that the American media's support was a kiss of death, adding that he was too old to cope with the stress associated with the top post.

Mrs Carrie Lam, 59

Hong Kong's Chief Secretary for Administration Carrie Lam leaves after meeting with Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond in London on Sept 26, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

The Chief Secretary, the city's number two official, said she had no more political ambitions, though some observers consider her a dark horse for the top job.


Mrs Lam said in a forum on Nov 28 that the "one country, two systems" principle is indispensable to a better future of Hong Kong. The central government is committed to fulfilling its promises in the Basic Law, she said in a speech.

"(The speech) is not a platform for running for Chief Executive - you can view it as 'heartfelt words' from an official who served the public for 36 years. I also would not mind if you see it as parting words from this official," she said.

Mrs Lam reportedly expressed her wish to retire at a closed door event in November, but she refused to repeat the statement publicly when asked by reporters.

Mr John Tsang, 65

Financial Secretary John Tsang reacts during a press conference in the Central Governement office in Hong Kong on Sept 21, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

The financial secretary was reportedly popular among those who self identify as localists, according to a poll in early November on the support for likely Chief Executive candidates.

He led the poll commissioned by pro-government newspaper the Hong Kong Economic Journal at 28.4 per cent, followed by Mr Woo at 13.5 per cent, Mr Jasper Tsang at 11.4 per cent, and Mrs Lam at 10.3 per cent.

Mrs Ip, who came at last with 8.4 per cent, said the polls at such an early stage were not accurate.

Mr John Tsang has yet to announce his candidacy, but he said last week he "would actively consider" if something "is beneficial to Hong Kong and the people of Hong Kong".

"Many people, no matter if they know me or not - or even those on the Internet - are very supportive of me joining the election," Mr Tsang said on Commercial Radio.