Carrie Lam plays down Beijing help in Hong Kong chief executive race

Ex-chief secretary insists she is working hard to gain support after ‘late start’

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 January, 2017, 9:01pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 January, 2017, 10:55pm

Chief executive contender Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said on Wednesday she had been exerting considerable effort to gain the support of residents and electors because she had “started late” while dismissing speculation Beijing’s liaison office had been helping her behind the scenes.

Lam, seen in some quarters as the central government’s preferred candidate, was speaking as she and her rivals John Tsang Chun-wah and Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee continued to meet members of the 1,194-strong Election Committee, the body that will pick Hong Kong’s next leader on March 26.

On Wednesday, Lam launched her election website, more than a week after she formally joined the race.

The page provided Hongkongers a rare glimpse into Lam’s private life. She posted a number of pictures showing her husband and two sons.

Hong Kong business groups meet prospective city leaders

Lam on her website shared her vision for Hong Kong and highlighted 20 positions she held during her 36-year career as a public servant. But it did not provide an English version for non-Chinese readers. A spokesman said the site’s English version would be launched soon.

Also Wednesday, Lam attended a gathering organised by the Business and Professionals Alliance to field questions from dozens of electors from the commercial sector and district bodies. Afterwards,

Lam addressed suggestions Beijing’s liaison office had been helping her campaign.

I started late, so I need to catch up in gaining support … I am trying to canvass votes every day
Carrie Lam

“Hong Kong’s elections are done in accordance with the city’s laws, and the four candidates are making their efforts,” she said. “I started late, so I need to catch up in gaining support … I am trying to canvass votes every day. I have to work hard as the election is highly competitive.”

Lam and Tsang separately met Education 2.1, a task force led by Antony Leung Kam-chung, once tipped to seek the city’s highest office. Two of the group’s members sit on the Election Committee.

Leung said he hoped the next leader would revamp the education system, increase the number of places in tertiary institutions, and restore local unity.

“I hope the next chief executive and administration can implement the principle of ‘one country, two systems’ well in the face of drastic change in the global political environment,” the former financial secretary added. But he stopped short of stating his preference among the candidates, saying he would need to wait for their manifesto.

Tsang met the press alongside Leung after the exchange and said he shared several common views with the group and agreed education reform was needed.

In a statement, Lam said she hoped to build a stable and understanding educational environment for pupils and teachers.

Meanwhile, Ip met six Election Committee members from the pro-establishment camp, including lawmakers Martin Liao Cheung-kong, Chan Kin-por and Yiu Si-wing.

Ip said she would unveil an updated version of her election platform by next month.

The fourth candidate is retired judge Woo Kwok-hing.