HONG KONG - Hong Kong's former security chief Regina Ip said on Thursday (Dec 15) she wants to "win back Hong Kong" as she officially declared her candidacy for the upcoming Chief Executive election.
At a press conference titled "Win back Hong Kong", the 66-year-old pro-Beijing candidate said massive pro-democracy protests in 2014 and a controversy over anti-establishment legislators in recent months have divided the city and strained relationship with the mainland.
Many Hong Kongers fear that the city's autonomy is threatened by China's intervention, said Mrs Ip, who called for supporters to help her "pave a way for the next generation".
Mrs Ip is the second person after retired judge Woo Kwok Hing to officially throw her hat into the ring for the March 26 election. Her resignation from the Executive Council was accepted by Chief Executive Leung Chun Ying on Thursday morning.
She is best known as Hong Kong’s security minister who spearheaded the government’s push to enact an anti-subversion law in 2003 which prompted 500,000 people to take to the streets in protest. The Bill was shelved and Mrs Ip stepped down from her post.
She went on to study for a master’s degree in the United States. In 2008, Mrs Ip ran in the Legislative Council elections and won a seat in the Hong Kong Island constituency. Now chairman of the New People's Party, she was re-elected in 2012 and most recently in September, when she won the second-highest number of votes in the 70-seat parliament.
However, she faltered in the Chief Executive race in 2012 after failing to secure enough nominations from the 1,200-member Election Committee, which picks the Chief Executive.
Hong Kong's no. 3 official, Financial Secretary John Tsang, is also expected to announce his candidacy soon, after tendering his resignation on Monday. Chief Secretary Carrie Lam is also widely speculated to be awaiting Beijing's green light before announcing her bid.
Mrs Ip,who first announced her interest for the top job in October, said on Thursday her party unanimously approved her bid during a party meeting on Wednesday night.
She said she will start to canvass for votes from members of the Election Committee and is confident of getting at least 150 nominations to qualify this time.