Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Raymond Tam Chi-yuen has said that there is no sign of Beijing meddling in Hong Kong’s chief executive election.
Democratic Party lawmaker Ted Hui Chi-fung asked Tam at a Legislative Council Q&A session on Wednesday if the government plans to respond to rumours which could mislead the public and affect the leadership race.
The question came after reports claimed former leader Tung Chee-hwa told his think tank that Beijing would not appoint John Tsang, even if he wins the election.
“From open channels, there have been no central government officials who openly said they supported anyone, or that they would handpick anyone,” Tam said, adding the only related case was when top Beijing official Wang Guangya previously explained his four criteria for a chief executive in a magazine interview.
“The government cannot comment on unverified rumours,” he added.
He said the public can report false or misleading comments, if they are serious enough to affect the fairness of the election and break election laws, to the Independent Commission Against Corruption.
Tam also said if the central government refuses to appoint the winner of the election, a new election will be held within 120 days after July 1, the day which the term of the current chief executive ends, according to the law.
He said the chief secretary of the current term would be the acting leader within the 120 days according to the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s de facto constitution.
Some electors from pro-democracy camp and the pro-Beijing camp previously claimed they have been receiving telephone calls from either the China Liaison Office, Beijing’s official organ in the city, or “intermediaries familiar with the Chinese side,” campaigning for candidate Carrie Lam.
The nomination period ended on Wednesday and a secret ballot will be held on March 26 to select the winner.
Legal sector pro-democracy lawmaker Dennis Kwok Wing-hang said at the LegCo meeting that he was concerned about the confidentiality of the electors’ votes.
Tam said measures will be taken to ensure the voting choices of chief executive electors will not be revealed.
He said that the voting will be held at the Grand Hall on the third floor of the Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai. Electors and authorised people will have to go through security checks with their identity passes.
“Surveillance cameras are installed in the Grand Hall… we will remove them,” he said. Police officers and security guards will ensure no other personnel can enter.
“We have dozens of voting booths. The booth will have two-metre tall barriers and there will be a cover on top to ensure no one can see how electors vote.”
Tam said that, according to regulations, electors cannot use voice or photo recording devices during the process.