Carrie Lam’s election rival Regina Ip has claimed that several pro-Beijing electors on the chief executive election committee deliberately avoided submitting their nominations for Lam.
Lam submitted 579 nominations on Tuesday, just 22 short of 601 – the number of votes she would need in the secret ballot on March 26. Only 150 valid nominations are required to become a candidate.
Lam, seen as Beijing’s favourite after reports of the China Liaison Office helping her, did not receive any nominations from the pro-democracy camp. She also missed out on several nominations from some sectors which are considered safe for her.
For instance, she only received five nominations from the 60-member labour sector predominantly controlled by the pro-Beijing Federation of Trade Unions (FTU). She only received two from the 16-member Hong Kong Chinese Enterprises Association sector.
Some lawmakers from the pro-Beijing party Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, including Elizabeth Quat and Holden Chow, did not nominate Lam, despite the party’s leader Starry Lee and seven others doing so.
She received none from the 57 Hong Kong and Kowloon District Councils members, despite receiving nominations from 53 out of 60 members of the New Territories District Councils. The 15-member publication sector also awarded no nominations to Lam.
Should all the “missing” nominations be given to Lam, she would possess more than 700, ensuring a very safe position ahead of voting day.
Lam claimed on Tuesday that she has submitted every nomination received.
Her rival, lawmaker Regina Ip, said the large number of nominations showed Lam was capable. But she said she does not believe that the FTU would not give votes to Lam, since FTU veteran lawmaker Wong Kwok-kin praised Lam when she announced her run.
“I believe the FTU is only putting on a show, they will give her everything later on,” she said on Tuesday.
Political commentator Li Wei-ling said it was impossible for Lam not to receive a single nomination from the Hong Kong and Kowloon District Councils members and the publication sector.
“Considering the level of participation of the China Liaison Office in the District Council elections, is it possible that it cannot even secure one nomination from the Hong Kong and Kowloon District Councils members?” she wrote in Apple Daily. “The pro-Beijing publishers Joint Publishing, Commercial Press and Chung Hwa have inseparable ties with the Liaison Office. It is a fairy tale if one says Sai Wan cannot control them.”
Sai Wan is where the Liaison Office – Beijing’s organ in Hong Kong – is located.
Li said it was likely a strategy to avoid the situation whereby Lam submitted more than 700 nominations but ultimately received a lower number of votes: “It would be a laughing stock.”
“They may have estimated that some pro-Beijing camp members, who were forced to nominate Lam, would not vote for her in the secret ballot,” she wrote.
Meanwhile, seven of Lam’s nominations were thrown out because of unrecognisable writing and a error in information given, reported RTHK. Lam may resubmit correct ones before the 5pm deadline on Wednesday.
Lam’s other rivals – John Tsang and Woo Kwok-hing – submitted 160 and 180 nominations respectively. One of Woo’s nomination was invalidated owing to an incorrect identity card number, but he has since submitted the correct one. Both of them became candidates.
Tsang submitted several more nominations on Wednesday morning but did not disclose any details.
Regina Ip, who is unlikely to secure the required nominations, will host a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, supposedly announcing the end of her campaign. She told the i-Cable news channel previously that she would not rule out running again, in five years time, when she will be 70 years old.