The public relations chief for leadership hopeful Carrie Lam has apologised to reporters following complaints over poor communication.
Lam’s top media aide Sandra Mak Wong Siu-chun, who is also the CEO at A-World Consulting, administers a Whatsapp group with reporters along with Tai Keen-man, Lam’s media aide and former deputy director of broadcasting at public station RTHK.
The reporters often ask the team for Lam’s itinerary but said that they often failed to reply or did not respond in detail, leaving reporters to answer each other’s queries. On one occasion, a reporter asked when would Lam attend a forum hosted by the architectural sector on Saturday. Tai simply replied “tomorrow 11am” without mentioning the location and other arrangement details.
Another reporter gave a more detailed reply and said: “I should not have answered for them, but in this group, I think you all know what kind of a team we are dealing with.” Soon, a third reporter asked about arrangements for Lam’s visit to the New People’s Party, and they were also answered by a fellow reporter.
Mak, who went to university with Lam, sent a message on Monday as an apology to the group but it was in simplified Chinese characters, which are mostly used in China, instead of traditional ones used in Hong Kong. Lam is seen as Beijing’s favourite to win Sunday’s election.
She said: “Good morning media friends. In these two months of campaigning, we apologise if the campaign office did not communicate well with you. We will do the remaining work well, and we hope to keep in touch with you after the election. Thank you.”
Reporters then started to ask if the apology was really from the campaign office. “Why simplified Chinese characters? Is it for mainland or local media? Thanks,” one wrote.
Mak replied within 30 minutes saying: “It was only the phone’s settings, I hope you all would not be too sensitive. Our English communication is also not only for friends who can merely read English – I hope you all can take it easy.”
A reporter told her: “Look forward to your English statement. Many thanks in advance.”
Another reporter explained: “Please understand that this is a sensitive time – so we respond like that.”
John Tsang and Woo Kwok-hing are also standing in the small-circle election.