John Tsang backed by almost 92 per cent of voters in mock poll for Hong Kong’s next leader

Vote held as privacy chief cites security breaches as poll closes with far fewer ballots than one million organisers had expected

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 19 March, 2017, 5:41pm
UPDATED : Monday, 20 March, 2017, 2:05am

Chief executive candidate John Tsang Chun-wah was backed by 91.9 per cent of the votes in a mock ballot for the city’s next leader, as those who do not have a say in the coming chief executive election got a last chance to cast their unofficial votes.

About 65,000 people had voted as the mock ballot closed on Sunday night, with 96.1 per cent of respondents also saying they opposed contender Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor. The number of votes was far short of the one million target set by organiser Citizens United in Action, led by Occupy Central founder Benny Tai Yiu-ting, since the exercise was launched on March 10.

Dr Chung Kim-wah, a political scientist at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, believed the votes against front runner Carrie Lam would put pressure on the new administration.

“There would be no honeymoon for the new government, if Lam gets elected.”

Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s privacy watchdog on Sunday again warned of a “security loophole” in the mock ballot system.

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The Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data said it had preliminarily established that the organiser, when collecting voters’ personal data, had breached information security practices, after consulting related computer security experts and other professional organisations.

“[The office] has immediately asked the event organiser for an explanation,” the office said. “If [personal] information leaks, the organiser needs to be responsible for this.”

Voters cast their ballots online or at the voting stations at the University of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union office in Mong Kok.

Last month, Privacy Commissioner Stephen Wong Kai-yi said his office had “strongly” requested the group stop collecting voters’ personal data “unfairly” on its PopVote smartphone app and website.

He also called on them to stop using Telegram, a popular ­instant messaging smartphone app on which the voting platform was built. The app had raised concerns about risks of hacking.

Voters were asked to provide their name, telephone number and identity card number to register on the platform.

Organisers said the collection of identity card numbers was to avoid duplicate voting. They posted a written statement on the platform to explain the use of personal data.

At the HKU voting station, members of the public said they braved the rain to cast their votes on the last day of the ballot because they wanted both Beijing and Hong Kong’s government to know their choices.

“I don’t have a vote in the actual election, but I want to make use of my vote in this ballot to tell Beijing what the public really wants,” Adolf Lee, 50, said.

“If I didn’t come out today, the central government would feel that Hong Kong people don’t care about the election. That could mean they would ignore the public’s views in future.”

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The chief executive election will be held on Sunday. The city’s next leader will be chosen by a 1,194-member Election Committee, which is dominated by pro-establishment figures.

Another voter at the mock election, Naomi Leung, supported popular underdog John Tsang Chun-wah over front runner Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor. She was confident the former financial secretary could “bring new hope” and “take Hong Kong on a brighter path”.

“Carrie Lam has a lot of shortcomings. She is arrogant and she is too much like CY,” she said, referring to outgoing chief executive Leung Chun-ying.

Voter Sherry Yau said she would support a candidate who could end social divisions.