Hong Kong sets nomination period for chief executive election, releases guidelines
Next CE expected to be responsible, courageous in leading HK out of difficulties: expert
Published: Jan 27, 2022 04:23 PM
Hong Kong on Thursday released highly anticipated guidelines for the upcoming chief executive election. Photo:

Hong Kong on Thursday released highly anticipated guidelines for the upcoming chief executive election. Photo:

Hong Kong on Thursday released a highly anticipated guideline for the upcoming chief executive election, and set the nomination period for the race from February 20 to March 5, with the election date set on March 27.  

It will be the first chief executive election since the implementation of the electoral reform in Hong Kong. The reforms fixed the loopholes in the local electoral reform with the principle of patriots governing the city. 

According to the Chief Executive Election Ordinance, the nomination period for candidature shall be fixed by the Chief Electoral Officer, and the period shall not be less than 14 days and shall be terminated on a day earlier than the 21 days before the polling date. And a nomination of a candidate shall be made by no less than 188 members of the Election Committee, with no less than 15 members for the committee in each of the five sectors. 

The Candidate Eligibility Review Committee will review and confirm the eligibility of candidates. The committee may also request the opinion of the Returning Officer during this period and make a decision based on the review opinion of the Committee for Safeguarding National Security of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). 

The first round of voting is set from 9 am to 11 am on the voting day, and a candidate who wins over 750 eligible ballots would be elected immediately, otherwise the second round of voting will take place in the afternoon.  

The announced nomination period was about 5 days of delay from the previously indicated period. As when the HKSAR government reported to the Legislative Council in October 2021, it had expressed that the nomination period would be set from February 15 to March 2. 

"I can assure you that the nomination period is designated fully in accordance with the law," Barnabas Fung, the chairman of the Electoral Affairs Commission, told reporters on Thursday morning. And according to the ordinance, the election affairs commission is not a decision maker but it has to ensure the process strictly abides by the law. 

The timing for the election of the chief executive is very tight, which will be beneficial to those who already enjoy certain popularity, good reputation and practical experiences and achievements, Lau Siu-kai, Vice President of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies who is also a senior government advisor, told the Global Times on Thursday. 

"The future CE is expected to be a person who is capable of reversing the decline of the city at a critical moment and bring it back to a sustainable development path," he said, noting that the core work is to set up a leadership team that is highly committed to and integrated with both national and international visions.

When asked about her plan for running for office again, Carrie Lam, current Chief Executive of the HKSAR, did not respond directly to the question. "I fight the COVID-19 epidemic every day, and I don't think about other things," she told reporters at a press briefing on Thursday afternoon. 

Hong Kong's daily COVID-19 cases soared to 164 on Thursday, the most recorded in a single day since the epidemic began in January 2020 and up sharply from the 107 confirmed infections reported on Wednesday. 

The chief executive guidelines were unveiled the day after Luo Huining, director of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the HKSAR, delivered a speech to mark the upcoming Chinese New Year, saying that the Pearl of the Orient has re-emerged with glamour. 

Luo highlighted the leadership and support of the Communist Party of China in the speech on Wednesday, urging improvement of the mechanism and systems in solving many deep-seated problems in order to achieve good governance. 

The upcoming election, the first chief executive election under the new electoral system, will have huge significance, as to some extent, it could set a constitutional routine for future chief executive elections, and the overall environment for competition would be significantly different from the previous chief executive elections, a mainland expert on Hong Kong and Macao studies told the Global Times on condition of anonymity. 

"For example, in the previous elections, there were very intense confrontations between candidates, with personal attacks when various incidents occurred, posing huge uncertainties to the election," he said. 

From the central government's perspective, the chief executive election is expected to be competitive, but in a positive manner that underscores good democratic practices with Hong Kong characteristics, the expert said, noting that the next chief executive of the HKSAR government should be a person with responsibility and the courage to lead the city in continuing on the second phase of the "one country, two systems" practice.