John Tsang expects up to 2,000 people at Hong Kong chief executive election rally on Friday

Rival Carrie Lam has no plans for similar campaign event, citing her team’s ‘practical style for publicity’

PUBLISHED : Friday, 24 March, 2017, 1:22pm
UPDATED : Friday, 24 March, 2017, 1:22pm

The underdog in the chief executive race, John Tsang Chun-wah, said he expected up to 2,000 people to attend his rally on Friday evening, but he denied using his popularity to force support from Beijing.

The former finance minister made the comments on Friday morning, ahead of the rally in Edinburgh Place, Central, the final stop on his half-day bus parade on Hong Kong Island ahead of Sunday’s election.

“Governance is about 7.3 million citizens rather than around 1,200 Election Committee members. Although most of the citizens don’t hold votes, it is still good to seek their attention in the election,” Tsang told a radio programme, rejecting earlier suggestions that he was using his popularity to force support from the central government.

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“I hope to gather the public… and build Hong Kong with trust and solidarity.”

But Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, the former chief secretary and widely seen as Beijing’s pick, said she would not have any high-profile publicity before the election.

“Throughout the election campaign, my team and I have opted for a practical style for publicity, which also fits my personality,” she said.

“If I’m going too much in promoting myself, people would think I am not the Carrie Lam they used to know,” said Lam, whose popularity has fallen behind Tsang in a number of polls.

Both Tsang and Lam said they would continue to seek support from the public and different sectors in the last two days before the election.

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Lam also responded to criticism that her campaign gave the misleading impression that Professor Nelson Chow Wing-sun supported it. Chow, a retired social work professor whose advice on retirement protection the government rejected, had been in a video clip visiting the elderly with Lam.

But Chow said he did not support Lam’s bid.

“I didn’t say Chow would support me to be chief executive. I think my slogan “WeConnect” means people of different stances could also walk together,” said Lam.

She said she did not guarantee implementing universal retirement protection if elected.

The third chief executive contender, retired judge Woo Kwok-hing, said he was still optimistic. “It is a secret ballot. Each Election Committee member will follow their hearts to vote,” he said.

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He gave the remarks on a Commercial Radio programme on Friday morning, saying it was not democratic for the pan-democrats to vote in a bloc.

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He said he believed some pan-democrats would vote for him, and said: “Even the [pro-Beijing] Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions said they would consider supporting me.”

The pan-democratic camp, which has 326 votes on the 1,194-member committee that will pick the city’s next leader on Sunday, has said a majority of its members will vote for Tsang on Sunday.

A candidate needs 601 votes to win the job.