Thu, Feb 01, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Pro-democracy lawyer to challenge HK leader in poll


Pro-democracy lawmaker Alan Leong (梁家傑) said yesterday he would make history by becoming the first politician on the ballot to challenge a Beijing-backed candidate in Hong Kong's leadership race.

Leong, who is also a lawyer, said he has received the 111 nominations from an 800-member panel which will choose Hong Kong's next leader. He will be the first challenger on the ballot since the former British colony returned to Chinese rule 10 years ago.

"We started off thinking that we could not possibly get the entry ticket, now we got already 111 nominations," Leong said.

"This is a historic moment for Hong Kong," he said.

Leong's unexpected success in getting on the ballot will force an unprecedented electoral contest against Beijing-backed incumbent Chief Executive Donald Tsang (曾蔭權), who is expected to formally declare his candidacy today.

While analysts still expect the 48-year old Tsang to win by a landslide in a secret ballot on March 25, they said Leong's candidacy would stir debate on democratic reform and pave the way for future contests.

No candidate from the pan-democratic camp has managed to get on the ballot sheet before, tripped up each time by a failure to secure a minimum 100 nominations from the election committee, whose members are largely sympathetic to Beijing.

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