Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-Ngor won with 777 votes thanks to Chinese government meddling. "Beijing intervened in the ‘election’ unreservedly,” Chit Wai writes. “There will be no return to the original practice of the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ principle.”
Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – "Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s victory was predictable," said Chit Wai John Mok, who teaches at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Speaking to AsiaNews about Hong Kong’s election for chief executive on 26 March, he noted that the vote for the candidate backed by the mainland and the mostly pro-establishment Election Committee was a forgone conclusion.
As expected, the former Chief Secretary and Beijing’s favourite, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, was selected by the Election Committee as the next Chief Executive with 777 votes, beating former financial chief John Tsang Chun-wah and retired judge Woo Kwok-hing.
During the campaign period, John Tsang appealed for “unity” and “hope”, and gained huge popularity among citizens, as well as the pan-democratic camp. Carrie Lam, on the other hand, was labelled as “CY 2.0” (i.e. a duplicate of the current unpopular CE Leung Chun-ying), owing to her uncompromising attitude. Her campaign was also filled with gaffes and repeated slips of tongue.
It was widely reported that the Chinese government’s Liaison Office in Hong Kong was mobilizing and pressuring the pro-establishment camp and the commercial sector to back Lam as the “right person”. Such intervention stirred up anger among the democrats, as well as the general public. The pan-dems, which seized more than 300 seats in the 1194-member Election Committee, therefore rallied behind Tsang, with a hope to counter Beijing’s influence. This, unfortunately, led to a split among the camp between the “strategic faction” (策略派) who backed Tsang, and the “principled faction” (原則派) who refused to back anyone from the establishment and boycotted the “small-circle” election by casting blank votes.
Four developments are to be observed:
(1) Carrie Lam, with her hubris, is unlikely to heal the divide of city. It was the first time that a candidate with low approval rate was selected as CE, while the one with high approval rate lost. More political conflicts and confrontations will take place in the coming five years.
(2) Among the democrats, supporters of the “strategic faction” strongly criticized the “principled faction” (including Nathan Law and Eddie Chu), threatening not to vote for them in future elections. How the internal divide within the democrats can be healed remains to be seen.
(3) The business sector was forced to support the candidate they did not like. The gap between it and the traditional pro-establishmentarians will be widened.
(4) Beijing intervened in the “election” unreservedly through its Liaison Office and surrogates. There will be no return to the original practice of the “One Country, Two Systems” principle.