A veteran pro-Beijing politician has said that Beijing’s China Liaison Office in Hong Kong obtained 777 votes for chief executive-elect Carrie Lam in last month’s small-circle election.
Basic Law Committee member Lau Nai-keung made the comments about the Chinese government’s organ in Hong Kong at a research conference commemorating the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover from Britain to China. The conference was held on Saturday at Beijing’s Peking University.
“I dare say that nothing could be done by the chief executive and the Hong Kong government without the Liaison Office in Hong Kong,” said Lau.
“How did Lam win 777 votes? Did she get them vote by vote, by campaigning? Without the help of the Liaison Office, would she be able to get them?”
However, Lau denied that Beijing was interfering in Hong Kong’s election. He said that the Central Government was simply “making its preferences known.”
Lau said that it was more appropriate to call Beijing’s actions an “intervention” rather than “interference,” pro-Beijing newspaper Wen Wei Po reported.
“Intervention and interference are two different things from a linguistic perspective,” he was cited as saying. “Intervention is top-down, and not inwards from the outside. Intervention is legal.”
In the lead-up to the election last month, some of Hong Kong’s 1,200 electors claimed that they received telephone calls from the office and other forms of pressure to vote for Lam.
Lam said that she could not rule out the possibility that the office helped her to win votes.
Political commentator Martin Oei wrote in his blog on Sunday that Lau’s comments amounted to an admission that the Liaison Office violated Article 22 of the Basic Law, which states that mainland authorities cannot interfere in Hong Kong’s autonomous affairs.
He added that there may also have been violations of the Elections (Corrupt and Illegal Conduct) Ordinance, because the Liaison Office’s activities would have incurred election expenses – which Lam did not publicise as required by law.
The chief executive-elect’s office told Apple Daily on Saturday that Lam personally visited different electors, listened to their opinions on various policies, and introduced her governing vision to them.
“She is sincerely grateful to the electors for their support.”