Kung fu master Sin wants to rule Hong Kong as leadership race looms

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

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HONG KONG, Jan 19 (Reuters) – Hong Kong kung fu master and film producer Checkley Sin Kwok Lam said on Wednesday he intended to take part in the city’s leadership race, a surprise move that comes as outgoing leader Carrie Lam has yet to confirm whether she will seek a second term.

The 65-year-old is the first person to announce her candidacy ahead of the March 27 election. Chief Executive Lam, who has presided over some of the most tumultuous times in Hong Kong’s history, is due to end her term in June.

The willing candidates need the support of a powerful “patriots-only” electoral body formed by 1,500 pro-Beijing people in Hong Kong. It was unclear if Sin had such support.

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In a YouTube video, Sin said his followers on the internet convinced him to change his mind about not getting involved in politics.

“Under the new electoral system, I believe every capable and reliable patriot can join the election of the new chief executive,” Sin said. “I believe I have the ability to win.”

With the elections just weeks away, the silence of leader Lam and other heavyweights is unusual. Local media have speculated that potential candidates include Lam, Finance Secretary Paul Chan and former World Health Organization chief Margaret Chan. Lam has repeatedly declined to say whether she will run for a second term.

Sin, who produced the film Ip Man, has been an active promoter of martial arts in the city. He leads the World Wing Chun Union, which focuses on the traditional southern Chinese style of kung fu that was popularized in Hong Kong by Ip Man and Bruce Lee.

Shares of National Arts Group, of which Sin resigned as chairman last July, soared more than 50% on Wednesday in their highest percentage gain since 2006. The company’s market value is around 102 million HK dollars ($13 million).

Hong Kong-born Sin has his own YouTube channel with 155,000 subscribers and posts online every few days on topics ranging from politics to the Beijing Olympics. In 2021, one of his shows was about what he called “Western hypocrisy” in Hong Kong.

He began his online commentary in October 2019 at the height of Hong Kong’s anti-government protests, where he firmly sided with the government and police forces.

The nomination period runs from Feb. 15 to March 2, and candidates must secure nominations from at least 188 of the 1,500 people on the election committee, according to a document from the city’s legislature.

($1 = HK$7.7917)

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Reporting by Jessie Pang and Twinnie Siu; Written by Farah Master; Editing by Marius Zaharia and Michael Perry

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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