Pro-establishment lawmakers expressed regret on Friday, but said they respected Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s decision not to enter the city’s leadership race next March.
New People’s Party Chair Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee told reporters that Leung “has worked very hard in the past, especially on housing and land policies, I appreciate his effort.” She said she was touched to see him give up on running due to family reasons. Ip is officially expected to enter the leadership race next Thursday.
When asked whether Leung stepping down will improve her chances of election, she said: “I am always committed to serving Hong Kong to the best of my abilities, this makes no difference.”
HK Chief Exec CY will not seek re-election: https://t.co/L64rLY9nvn
— Hong Kong Free Press (@HongKongFP) December 9, 2016
“It is not important whether I was given a red light or a green light,” she said when asked about Beijing’s intentions. “It is more important that I serve Hong Kong with my heart and give my fullest for Hong Kong people.”
Ip was also asked whether she had sought support from Chinese officials. “I have not visited the China Liaison Office, I have no plans to visit again after you guys [the media] spotted me there the last time,” she said.
When asked how she differed from Leung, Ip said: “I have experience in democratic elections. You need to be humble, and listen to the people.”
Ip has called for a rally next Thursday, where she is widely suspected to be announcing her candidacy.
Starry Lee Wai-king from the pro-Beijing DAB party said she affirmed Leung’s efforts in poverty alleviation and housing, and hoped he would continue to work hard.
When asked which candidate the party will support now that Leung has announced he will not run, Lee said “as a responsible voter we have to choose the best candidate for Hong Kong but it is too early to decide because all these things [election process] have not yet started.”
Lee said she has received an invitation to Ip’s rally next Thursday, but the party has respectfully declined to attend.
Another lawmaker from the DAB party Elizabeth Quat Pui-fan said she received many messages right after Leung made the announcement.
“A lot of mothers told me they were very touched because he [Leung] made a tough decision at this very difficult moment.” She asked the media to give Leung and his family some space and wished his family all the best.
Jeffery Lam Kin-fung of the pro-Beijing BPA party said: “I understand his daughter has been sick for a while and has been in hospital… CY has done a lot of work for Hong Kong in the past four and a half years. I hope in his remaining seven months he will continue to do the work he has not yet finished,” Lam said.
The Federation of Trade Unions also said it was a pity that Leung is not seeking reelection.