‘Invisible hand’ interfering in Hong Kong chief executive race, NPP deputy chair Michael Tien says

Outspoken lawmaker says many Election Committee members have received phone calls pushing certain candidates

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 January, 2017, 12:41pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 January, 2017, 12:41pm

The upcoming race for Hong Kong’s top job has “lost its shape” due to the increasing interference of “an invisible hand”, according to New People’s Party deputy chairman Michael Tien Puk-sun.

During an RTHK radio programme on Tuesday morning, the outspoken lawmaker said the election was becoming a game without competition, even within the pro-establishment camp.

Tien said many election committee members, himself included, had received phone calls asking them to nominate certain candidates. This was despite Tien’s party chairwoman Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee being one of the contenders.

The lawmaker did not disclose the name of the candidate backed by the invisible hand.

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Each candidate will have to be nominated by at least 150 members of the 1,200-strong Election Committee before the subsequent vote for the city’s chief executive.

“I am worried,” Tien said. “It would be an extremely harmful factor for the administration’s future governance if the next chief executive were selected without any competition.”

He said the escalated interference of the “invisible hand” – believed to represent Beijing’s influence – in this year’s race showed a desire for one candidate to get as many as nominations as possible before the votes were cast.

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“How about we have an open and fair competition at the nomination? Is it really necessary to interfere at the first stage?” Tien asked.

Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor confirmed her candidacy hours after her resignation as chief secretary was formally accepted by Beijing, along with that of her former colleague and potential arch-rival John Tsang Chun-wah. The former finance chief is understood to be determined to run, despite remaining outwardly coy.

Ip and former judge Woo Kwok-hing said earlier that they would take part in the chief executive race.