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Hong Kong's elite join leadership candidate John Lee's campaign as Beijing watches

Hong Kong's elite join leadership candidate John Lee's campaign as Beijing watches

Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing, chairman of CK Hutchison Holdings, meets journalists as he formally retires after the company's Annual General Meeting in Hong Kong, May 10, 2018. (File photo: Reuters/Bobby Yip)

HONG KONG: Hong Kong's sole leadership candidate John Lee has picked nearly 150 heavyweights, including the city's richest man Li Ka-shing and other powerful businessmen and politicians, to join his advisory teams to show broad support for his bid.

Lee, the former number 2 official of the Asian financial hub, is set to replace Chief Executive Carrie Lam on Jul 1 with backing from Beijing.

"The members have rich experience and contribution to the society ... they will be helpful to the platform drafting and other work in the future," Lee's campaign office director Tam Yiu-chung told reporters on Wednesday.

Lee is expected to announce his platform later this month, media reports said, ahead of the election on May 8.

Since Hong Kong returned from British to Chinese rule in 1997, there have been four chief executives, all of whom have struggled to balance the democratic aspirations of some residents with the vision of China's Communist leaders.

All of the city's leaders have been backed by Beijing and chosen by an "election committee" stacked with Beijing loyalists.

Among Lee's 58-member campaign advisory team are the city's biggest property tycoons, including CK Asset's Li Ka-shing, Henderson Land Development's Lee Shau Kee, Sun Hung Kai Properties' Raymond Kwok and New World Development's Henry Cheng.

Other advisers include former World Health Organization director-general Margaret Chan, chairman of electricity company CLP Holdings Michael Kadoorie, and casino magnate Lui Che-woo.

Apart from the advisory team that serves a honorary role, there is also a 90-member presidium that Lee is consulting to draft his platform.

The presidium includes former Hong Kong chief secretary and a standing committee member of China's top advisory body the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, Henry Tang, business magnate Allan Zeman, former director of Public Prosecutions Grenville Cross, former chief executive of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing (HKEX) Charles Li, as well as movie star Jackie Chan.

Lee has secured 786 nominations from the 1,500 members of the election committee in charge of selecting Hong Kong's new leader, higher than the 188 nominations required to run.

A former career police officer, Lee is widely expected to prioritise security issues if he gets the top job, having previously urged new legislation to fully implement a sweeping national security law Beijing imposed on the city in 2020.

Lee said he will be the conductor to "a new symphony" early this month when he announced his candidacy. He said loyalty to China's central government was a priority for any chief executive and part of his platform will include accelerating plans to resolve the city's chronic housing shortage.

Source: Reuters/ng
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