Business leader Allan Zeman backs Carrie Lam in Hong Kong leadership contest

Election Committee member says he supports ‘people who can make things happen in Hong Kong’

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 January, 2017, 11:51pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 January, 2017, 11:51pm

Business leader Allan Zeman has thrown his support behind Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor for the city’s leadership race, saying Beijing’s reservations about Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah running were reflected by the time it was taking to approve his resignation.

Zeman, who is also a member of the Election Committee that will pick Hong Kong’s next leader in March, said on Tuesday his backing for Lam was based on his experience working with her at the West Kowloon arts hub for the past six years.

He described the chief secretary as “capable of doing things”.

Zeman, who stepped down as a West Kowloon Cultural District Authority member last October, added: “My idea is to have can-do people, who can make things happen in Hong Kong,”

The city could not afford to “stand still”, he warned. “Just look at what happens to the Palace Museum. If there’s no Carrie, they might not have the Palace Museum.”

Zeman said Lam had “made the best management decision for the benefit of Hong Kong”, despite the backlash over her handling of the project.

Many opponents were just “those who criticise everything” and “every single thing that has to do with the government”, he said.

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Tsang was a good friend, he said, but Beijing might have reservations about his bid. “It is important for whoever is the chief executive to have strong support from Beijing ... [they] need someone they can trust.”

Lam is expected to tender her resignation on Thursday to pave the way for her election bid.

Reports that she met local tycoons at a dinner last week have also triggered speculation that she has started lobbying for support from the business sector.

The dinner was reportedly hosted by Sino Group chairman Robert Ng Chee-siong and his son Daryl Ng Win-kong at their Mount Cameron house where the list of guests was almost a who’s who of the city’s property and finance tycoons. Many of the guests are also Election Committee members.

One of the guests at the dinner, Adam Kwok Kai-fai, executive director of Sun Hung Kai Properties, said the dinner had nothing to do with Lam’s election plan.

“It is not like what many people have imagined that Carrie called out [tycoons] because she decided to run for the chief executive,” he said. “It has been a regular dinner since Carrie was development bureau chief.”

Kwok said Lam had listened to the views expressed during the dinner, but declined to elaborate.

Kwok, who is also an Election Committee member, remained tight-lipped on whether he would support Lam, saying he would wait for more candidates to throw their hats in the ring first, as the formal nomination period would not start until next month.

Lam’s popularity has dropped in the latest public opinion poll.