Chief Executive Election

John Tsang raises HK$3m for election fund through crowdfunding, Carrie Lam says work to do on social media

Former chief secretary to open Facebook page ‘soon’ as 15,000 back rival’s crowdfunding effort

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 05 February, 2017, 12:05am
UPDATED : Sunday, 05 February, 2017, 12:05am

The popular underdog contesting Hong Kong’s leadership election, John Tsang Chun-wah, has raised more than HK$3 million within 48 hours through crowdfunding, prompting his arch-rival, front runner Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, to concede that her social media reach lags well behind his.

As of 10pm on Saturday, more than 15,000 people had donated a total of HK$3.37 million to the former financial secretary, ahead of the launch of his full election platform on Monday.

“[The money raised] is a very good amount,” Tsang said in a video on his Facebook page when it reached HK$2.6 million.

“I’m very grateful to the public for support and donations. It doesn’t matter whether the amount is big or small.”

He added that he considered even HK$1 as “great support and encouragement”.

Former chief secretary Lam, who appears to have more support than Tsang among members of the Election Committee that will pick the next chief executive in March, met the city’s biggest pro-Beijing party on Saturday.

Commenting on Tsang’s campaign, she conceded it was “better prepared” than hers.

“Their use of social media was more mature and better prepared ... We will roll out details later on how people can donate towards my electioneering,” Lam said when asked about Tsang’s crowdfunding success.

“What is most important is that any format [for raising funds] must be in line with Hong Kong’s election laws.”

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Commenting on her comparatively lower, but increasing, popularity – which coincides with a string of gaffes and public relations hiccups since announcing her election bid – Lam said she would open her Facebook page “as soon as possible” to reach out to young people.

She said some members of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong had showed support for her policy pledges, announced a day earlier at a rally that focused on redefining the government’s role as a facilitator and on increasing financial support for social and welfare programmes.

Pro-establishment members who dominated the 1,200-strong Election Committee in 2012 were asked to switch their support to underdog Leung Chun-ying in that year’s election when Henry Tang Ying-yen was plagued by flagging popularity because of a scandal over an illegal basement at his home. Leung won the election with a total of just 689 votes.

Public support has been listed as the last of four criteria for a chief executive set out by Wang Guangya, head of Beijing’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office. The other requirements are to “love the country and Hong Kong”, show competence to govern, and to win Beijing’s trust.

“We will assess all the candidates from a comprehensive perspective before deciding who to back,” said Starry Lee Wai-king, DAB chairwoman, after Saturday’s meeting with Lam.