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No Candidate Yet to Oppose Tung for HKSAR Chief Executive Election

Tung Chee-hwa could be re-elected Hong Kong SAR chief executive without opposition as he looks likely at present to be the only candidate, political commentator Professor Lau Siu-kai said.

The Legislative Council Election Committee Subsector by-election closed on Sunday.

And the next time the EC comes into action may be the chief executive election next year.

The stage has been set for March 24, 2002, provided that there are two or more candidates but so far nobody has made any declaration to take on the campaign.

Professor Lau said unless there is a major development in the coming months, it is almost certain that no election will be necessary.

It will also be very difficult for a prospective candidate to get the requisite 100 subscribers. And the requirement to disclose the names of subscribers will make many EC members hesitate in putting their names forward.

The biggest similarity between the by-election on Sunday and the chief executive election is the "one seat, one vote" system to return one candidate only.

Since there are no more than 800 voters, polling hours shall not be too long while ballot counting can take as little as 45 minutes, as happened on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the Chief Executive Election Bill, which was adopted by LegCo back in July, is expected to be gazetted and become effective later this month.

A series of related activities will follow. The Electoral Affairs Commission will publish a report on guidelines governing the election for public consultation purposes.

The consultation period may take two months before various views are collated and formulated as binding guidelines by the end of the year.

Then in early January 2002, by-elections to fill four vacancies in as many EC subsectors will be held to make the membership as close to 800 as possible in time for the March 24 election.

Two of the vacancies occur in the legal and survey sectors respectively because Audrey Eu and P.C. Lau later became lawmakers after being elected EC members in July 2000.

Once the Chief Executive Election Bill takes effect, the two will be deemed no longer representing their own professions but they, while being legislators, remain ex-officio EC members.

Antony Leung can no longer sit on the EC after becoming financial secretary in May.

While a member of the Heung Yee Kuk subsector died of a heart attack last month.

A two-week nomination period of candidates will commence in mid-February in the run-down to March 24 polling day.

(china daily 09/18/2001)

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