Carrie Lam still Beijing’s favourite, but should not have mentioned resigning, adviser says

Professor Lau Siu-kai, from Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, says chief executive hopeful should not discuss quitting before being elected

PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 March, 2017, 12:54pm
UPDATED : Friday, 17 March, 2017, 11:26pm

Beijing was firm on supporting Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s bid for Hong Kong’s top job after the annual “two sessions” meetings attended by the top national leadership, a high-level adviser said.

But think tank vice-president Professor Lau Siu-kai was critical of the “resign” pledge made by the former chief secretary during a televised debate, saying it was improper for politicians to openly talk about stepping down before even winning the election.

As the race enters its final stretch, all eyes are on whether any of the 570-plus Beijing loyalists who nominated Lam will turn away to back former financial secretary John Tsang Chun-wah during the secret ballot.

Speaking on Commercial Radio on Friday, Lau, of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, agreed there was a chance this would happen on March 26, but insisted that Lam remained Beijing’s preferred candidate.

“The general trend remains unchanged, that the central authorities continued to support Lam during the ‘two sessions’,” Lau said, referring to the National People’s Congress and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference meetings that ended this week.

The claim looks set to be an argument that will be deployed by the opposition camp to attack her.
Lau Siu-kai, think tank vice-president

“She may lose some of her nominations during the vote, but she also has other supporters [in the Election Committee],” Lau said. “I believe she should be able to win in one round.”

Lau, however, questioned Lam’s remarks during the Tuesday televised debate with rival candidates Tsang and retired judge Woo Kwok-hing, when she said she would resign if mainstream opinion posed a hurdle to her execution of the Basic Law.

Lam later sought to downplay the controversy by saying it had nothing to do with opinion polls.

Lau said what she had originally meant was “still unclear” despite her explanation.

“The claim looks set to be an argument that will be deployed by the opposition camp to attack her,” he said. “Politicians should avoid topics like conditions for resignation.”