Carrie Lam qualifies for Hong Kong leadership race just short of winning post
Former chief secretary’s 572 nominations not quite the landslide some had predicted, but it puts her well clear of rivals John Tsang and Woo Kwok-hing
Front runner Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor was 22 short of the final number of votes she will need to win Hong Kong’s leadership when she handed in her qualifying nominations on Tuesday, but her victory looks assured.
Observers said the tally put her in a very promising situation as several pro-Beijing blocs backing her in the Election Committee that will pick the city’s next chief executive by secret ballot had yet to play their cards at the voting stage.
Watch: Carrie Lam is surrounded dozens of protesters
When a beaming Lam submitted her 579 nominations on Tuesday, it was not quite the landslide that some quarters had expected from her, given reports of open lobbying on her behalf by Beijing’s liaison office, which was said to have aimed for up to 800 entry tickets for Lam to discourage her popular arch-rival, John Tsang Chun-wah, from running.
On Wednesday, the electoral office deemed seven nominations invalid, reducing Lam’s total to 572.
According to Lam’s campaign office spokesman, some nominators wrote simplified Chinese characters on their forms or did not write the characters clearly, while others did not write their ID card numbers clearly.
The spokesman said the office had been contacting the seven nominators to see if they could sign their nomination form again.
Watch: Carrie Lam presents her manifesto
The seven are Leung Koon-ho, Kwok Chi-yau, Chiu Sau-han, Tang Nuen-fun, Yam Kam-wing, Uddin Saeed and Yeung Yue-man.
Yet Lam’s revised tally still dwarfed the numbers of nominations obtained by former finance minister Tsang and retired judge Woo Kwok-hing, at 160 and 179 respectively. The qualifying threshold is 150 votes from the 1,194-member Election Committee, and a candidate will need at least 601 votes to win the election on March 26.
With Lam’s significant lead in the first stage, the playing field is not as relatively level as the last game in 2012, when Henry Tang Ying-yen and Leung Chun-ying bagged 390 and 305 nominations respectively.
But this time, while supporters of Tsang and Woo are mostly pan-democrats, all of Lam’s nominators come from the pro-establishment bloc.
“In the coming three weeks or so, I will continue to do my best to explain my policy vision and manifesto to my friends in the Election Committee, regardless of whether they are from the pro-establishment or the pan-democratic camp,” Lam said.
“I will also reach out to the public in the hope that I will gain their support.”
Among Lam’s nominators are all but one of the city’s major land developers. Hong Kong’s richest man, CK Hutchison Holdings boss Li Ka-shing, is not on her list – but Li’s elder son, Victor Li Tzar-kuoi, gave her a ticket.
Other nominations are largely from sectors such as the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), National People’s Congress (NPC), rural affairs body Heung Yee Kuk, agriculture and fisheries, and New Territories District Councils.
Conspicuously missing are three pro-Beijing blocs: the Hong Kong Island and Kowloon District Councils, the labour sector and the Chinese Enterprises Association.
Chinese University of Hong Kong political scientist Ivan Choy Chi-keung said the absence of those blocs appeared to be a “strategy” on Lam’s part because, for one, she did not want to be seen as too close to the association, which is closely linked to the central government.
Watch: Carrie Lam kicks off her election campaign
He said the other blocs, comprising members of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong and the Federation of Trade Unions, would eventually vote for Lam on the final day. The former had earlier recommended Lam to its members, and the latter, while seemingly unimpressed by Lam’s labour policy, saw several key leaders including president Lam Shuk-yee nominate Lam.
Choy also suggested Lam did not seek to bag more entry tickets “because doing so would be tantamount to spelling out a death sentence for Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee”.
He noted speculation that some Lam supporters could turn to Tsang at the voting stage under secret ballot, but he said it was hard to predict whether the swing would be enough to make him the winner.
Ip, a pro-establishment lawmaker and former security minister who has bitterly complained about Lam snatching all her votes, said on Tuesday she was still short of many tickets and would explain her case on Wednesday, when the nomination process ends.
In Beijing, Lam’s campaign office members reflected their optimism as they attended annual CPPCC and NPC meetings. CPPCC standing committee member Chan Wing-kee said: “It’s good for her to get less than half [the nominations] to make the race competitive; this is the right thing to do.”
Additional reporting by Raymond Yeung and Jennifer Li
Nominations secured by Carrie Lam: 572
Sub-sectors where Lam takes all
2. Commercial, second
3. Agriculture and fisheries
5. Chinese People’s Political Consultive Conference
6. Heung Yee Kuk
Key names on nomination list, by subsectors
1. Allan Zeman, founder of Lan Kwai Fong Group
1. Stephen Ng Tin-hoi, chairman and managing director of Wharf
2. Stanley Hui Hon-chung, executive director and deputy chief executive officer of NWS Holdings
3. Aron Harilela, Harilela Hotels chairman
1. Jonathan Choi Koon-shum, chairman of Chinese General Chamber of Commerce
2. Ian Chan Yau-nam, life honorary chairman of Chinese General Chamber of Commerce
3. Ricky Tsang Chi-ming, deputy chairman and chief executive officer of Goldlion Group
1. Margaret Leung Ko May-yee, deputy chairman and managing director of Chong Hing Bank
2. Edmond Ip Tak-chuen, deputy managing director of CK Hutchison Holdings
1. Lo Yuk-sui, chairman of Regal Hotels International Holdings
2. Gary Harilela, director of Harilela Hotels
3. Lee Ka-shing, chairman of Miramar Group
4. Lui Che-woo, chairman of K Wah Group
1. Eddy Li Sau-hung, president of Chinese Manufacturers’ Association
Real estate and construction
1. Gordon Wu Ying-sheung, chairman of Hopewell Holdings
2. Adam Kwok Kai-fai, executive director of Sun Hung Kai Properties
3. Ronnie Chan Chi-chung, chairman of Hang Lung Group
4. Lo Ka-shui, chairman of Great Eagle Holdings
5. Daisy Ho Chiu-fung, deputy managing director of Shun Tak Holdings
6. Robert Ng Chee-siong, chairman of Sino Group
7. Lee Shau-kee, chairman of Henderson Land Development
8. Adrian Cheng Chi-kong, executive vice-chairman of New World Development
9. Hung Cheung-shew, executive director of China State Construction International Holdings
1. Wai Chi-sing, managing director of Urban Renewal Authority
1. Pui Kwan-kay, vice-president of the Sports Federation and Olympic Committee of Hong Kong
2. Kenneth Fok Kai-kong, vice-president of Fok Ying Tung Group
Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference
1. Tam Yiu-chung, former chairman of Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB)
2. Lo Man-tuen, DAB senate chairman
3. Charles Ho Tsu-kwok, chairman of Sing Tao News Corp
4. Peter Woo Kwong-ching, senior counsel of Wharf
5. Victor Li Tzar-kuoi, deputy chairman of CK Hutchison Holdings
6. Stephen Tai Tak-fung, president of Friends of Hong Kong Association
7. Lee Ka-kit, executive director of Henderson Land Development Company
8. Liu Changle, founding chairman of Phoenix Satellite Television
9. Henry Cheng Kar-shun, chairman of NWS Holdings.