After gaffes, Carrie Lam admits she can be ‘clumsy’ but claims others call her ‘smart at work’

Poll rivals out and about lobbying Election Committee groups, as former chief secretary rejects idea of central government canvassing for her

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 29 January, 2017, 2:04pm
UPDATED : Monday, 30 January, 2017, 12:31am

Chief executive hopeful Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor admitted being “rather clumsy” after a series of public gaffes, but claimed colleagues see her as “smart at work”.

The city’s former No 2 official also said she would make more use of social media, on the same day her rivals John Tsang Chun-wah and Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee were out on the campaign trail.

Despite her lighthearted defence of her missteps, she sternly denied suggestions of mainland envoys at the central government liaison office secretly canvassing for her. Speaking to TVB on Sunday, Lam said no organisation could manipulate the election.

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She had been ridiculed recently for apparently not knowing how to handle basic matters of Hong Kong life. But she said: “[The gaffes] had nothing to do with my colleagues in the election campaign office, all because of me.”

She claimed she was “rather okay” at work, but said she was sometimes “rather clumsy”. In a blog, Lam wrote: “The three men in my family [her husband and two sons] had been criticising me for being brilliant at work but being clumsy on private matters.

In the latest gaffe, she gave a HK$500 note to a beggar. Her team said Lam had intended to show caring, but critics said she showed ignorance of something well known to Hongkongers, that beggars often come to the city from the mainland for quick cash.

Before that, she apparently did not know how to use an Octopus card or enter the MTR, or where to buy toilet paper.

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Lam said she would launch a Facebook page alongside her website. “I shall try to learn to use whatever means of media to enhance my communications with the public,” she said.. She is the only of the four hopefuls yet to open a campaign Facebook page.

On policy, Lam said she was talking to experts to work out economic plans. She said she would better use what is expected to be a large budget surplus, if elected, suggesting spending more on welfare and youth services.

Her potential rival, former financial secretary Tsang, said spending on welfare had jumped up by almost 60 per cent in the past five years. He said Hong Kong needed to make plans to adapt around its ageing population, to keep its finance sustainable.

Hong Kong Unison, an advocacy group for ethnic minority rights, organised a meeting between Tsang and ethnic minority residents. Tsang said he appreciated the difficulties ethnic minorities face because he lived in the United States when young. He promised to improve their education, especially in Chinese.

Unison founder Fermi Wong Wai-fun said Tsang appeared supportive but that it was too early to say if her group – with five spots on the Election Committee – would nominate or vote for him.

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“Every candidate will use flowery language when he or she wants your support,” she said. “We need to read his or her platform first.”

On Sunday Ip lobbied Heung Yee Kuk members at the kuk’s fortune stick-drawing ceremony at Che Kung Temple, Sha Tin. She said: “As far as I understand, the kuk has not yet decided who to nominate or vote for.”

The other hopeful, retired judge Woo Kwok-hing, spent Sunday visiting relatives, he said in a post on his Facebook page.