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Checkley Sin throws hat in the ring for mayoral elections

FILE PHOTO: A Chinese national flag (L) and a Hong Kong flag fly outside the Legislative Council, three days before the territory celebrates the 20th anniversary of its handover to Chinese rule, in Hong Kong, China June 28, 2017. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

Checkley Sin Kwok Lam, a Hong Kong kung fu expert and film producer, announced on Wednesday that he intends to run for mayor of the city, a surprising decision given that incumbent leader Carrie Lam has yet to indicate whether she will seek re-election.

The news: The 65-year-old is the first to declare candidacy ahead of the March 27 election. The term of Chief Executive Lam, who has presided over some of Hong Kong’s most turbulent eras, is set to expire in June.

  • Candidates need the support of a powerful “patriots-only” electoral group made up of 1,500 pro-Beijing Hong Kong residents. It wasn’t obvious if Sin had such backing.
  • With the election only a few weeks away, Lam’s and other heavyweights’ silence is unusual. Lam, Financial Secretary Paul Chan, and Margaret Chan, the former head of the World Health Organization, have all been mentioned as possible candidates in the local media. Lam has remained tight-lipped about whether she will seek re-election.

What he said: In a YouTube video Sin said that his internet fans persuaded him to reconsider his decision not to get involved in politics.

  • “I believe that under the new election system, any skilled and trustworthy patriot can run for the future chief executive election,” Sin stated. “I am confident in my capacity to win.”

About Sin: He is the director of the film Ip Man, has been a strong supporter of martial arts in the city. He is the president of the World Wing Chun Union, which promotes the ancient southern Chinese kung fu style popularised by Ip Man and Bruce Lee in Hong Kong.

  • Sin, who was born in Hong Kong, has 155,000 YouTube subscribers and publishes every few days on issues ranging from politics to the Beijing Olympics. One of his concerts in 2021 was about what he called “Western hypocrisy” in Hong Kong.
  • He began his online commentary in October 2019, during the height of anti-government protests in Hong Kong, where he fiercely supported the government and the police force.
  • On Wednesday, shares of National Arts Group, where Sin quit as chairman last July, rose more than 50 per cent, the greatest percentage gain since 2006. The company’s market capitalization is estimated to be around HK$102 million ($13 million).

According to a document from the city’s legislature, the nomination period runs from February 15 to March 2, and candidates must receive nominations from at least 188 of the 1,500 persons on the election committee.

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