Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Erick Tsang on Saturday urged people not to be obsessed with keen competition, now that next month's election committee polls have seen a drastic fall in the number of potential candidates.
The election will be the first poll since Beijing overhauled Hong Kong's electoral system, but nominations received by officials show that only 13 subsectors are likely to see any real competition.
Other seats on the 1,500-strong committee will be filled uncontested, automatically or through nominations.
In media interviews, the constitutional affairs chief said the fall in the number of potential candidates was expected, but people shouldn't directly compare the revamped election with the ones held in the past.
Rejecting suggestions that this shows a regression in terms of Hong Kong's democracy, Tsang said people shouldn't just focus on candidate numbers - but should look for what he called "quality democracy".
The public should focus on whether those nominated truly love the country and Hong Kong, the minister said, adding that the main aim of the revamped election is to ensure patriots run Hong Kong.
Tsang stressed that everyone is welcome to join the elections regardless of their political stances or sector - as long as they're patriotic.
The government's candidate vetting body will screen out pretenders, he said, and it will forward any cases that may have violated the national security law to the police.
Meanwhile, home affairs secretary, Caspar Tsui, who also sits on the vetting body like Tsang, said the body will look into a potential candidate's remarks and actions in the past.
The panel will release the results of its vetting on August 26, with elections due on September 19.
Those who make it onto the committee will not only choose Hong Kong's next chief executive in March 2022, but will also pick 40 of the 90 Legislative Council members to be selected this December.
'Don't be obsessed with competition in elections'
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