22 April 2019
Carrie Lam's Facebook post drew more than 6,000 reactions within 12 hours. John Tsang's Valentine's Day message received 24,000 "loves" and "likes" on Facebook. Photos: Facebook/Carrie Lam, John Tsang
Carrie Lam's Facebook post drew more than 6,000 reactions within 12 hours. John Tsang's Valentine's Day message received 24,000 "loves" and "likes" on Facebook. Photos: Facebook/Carrie Lam, John Tsang

The politics of love

Valentine’s Day was not going to pass without comment from two chief executive hopefuls.

Hours after Carrie Lam posted a love letter from her husband to Facebook, John Tsang released his own message saying, “Today let’s talk about love forever and forget about ‘one country, two systems’.” 

Netizens quickly noticed a glum-looking Lam Siu-por next to his wife in a photo accompanying the letter. Also, Siu-por’s letter drew negative comments from around the virtual world.

Written in Chinese, the letter shows Siu-por initially unhappy with his wife joining the race, saying he had looked forward to a quiet retirement with her.

He goes on to say that he eventually changed his mind after seeing that his wife was widely supported by the community.

“I changed my stance by encouraging you to join the 2017 chief executive election, and I also hope you can win the election and serve Hong Kong people in your new position, and contribute to the implementation of ‘one country, two systems’,” Siu-por wrote.

He also explained why he would not join her on stage on the campaign trail, but he made it clear where his loyalties lie. “I support you because you love Hong Kong. Happy Valentine’s Day, Carrie.”

The letter drew more than 6,000 reactions within 12 hours, with more than 4,000 “angry” emoticons swamping the page.

Commenters said the letter had no special significance and reeked of politics as usual.

By contrast, Tsang garnered 24,000 “loves” and “likes” on his Facebook page.  

In his letter, Tsang said Valentine’s day is not about lovers but happiness.

He wrote that Hong Kong has been in turmoil in recent years. “We are afraid of the collapse of our system … The split of the community due to the public losing trust in the government means there’s only pain and not happiness.”

Tsang said he is “willing to listen, willing to trust and willing to be frank”, and hoped that people could say they were happy to live in Hong Kong.

Fittingly, he called the letter his “love letter” to Hong Kong.

Tsang continues to dominate the public relations battle, with his message resonating with many Hong Kong people.

Both sides of the political spectrum from the pro-democracy camp to the Beijing loyalists must admit that Hong Kong has suffered from intense social divisions.

Many blame Leung Chun-ying’s arrogant and confrontational approach for the ills of society.

Notwithstanding his popularity, Tsang is facing an uphill battle to secure 150 nominations from the Election Committee to become an official candidate.

Still, Tsang is taking his case to the grassroots, visiting communities to hear their views and share his own visions for Hong Kong.

Never mind that in the small-circle election, the public has no say and everything comes down to the 1,200 members of the Election Committee. A tally of 601 votes will win the election.

On Tuesday, Tsang posted a video showing him calling supporters to discuss his election platform, underlining the importance of direct dialogue.

On the other hand, Lam claimed to be on course for 600 nominations which would show that she has the backing of all segments of society.

Lam is said to have secured about 400 nominations, helped along by Beijing’s Liaison Office and by Beijing loyalists.

Tsang has widened his lead over Lam in several new polls but many remain unconvinced he will win the election.

A netizen posted a letter on Tsang’s Facebook page, saying that Tsang should stop now or his upcoming loss would deal a blow to his supporters. “It would be like cheating us,” the netizen said.

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EJ Insight writer

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