Carrie Lam has officially become a candidate for the chief executive election as the former chief secretary has put in her application after winning huge support from Election Committee members.
On Tuesday, Lam submitted her application form to the Registration and Electoral Office along with 579 nominations, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
Having won the backing of nearly half of the 1,194-member Election Committee members, Lam is the undisputed frontrunner in the March 26 election.
The other two candidates who have made it past the nomination stage — former financial secretary John Tsang and retired judge Woo Kwok-hing — have handed in their applications along with far fewer list of backers.
Tsang, who became an official candidate last Saturday, has submitted 160 nominations, while Woo unveiled a list of 179 backers on Monday.
Candidates seeking to join the CE election needed to win at least 150 nominations from the Election Committee that will ultimately pick the winner through a vote on March 26.
Going by the nomination figures, Lam appears most likely to become Hong Kong’s next leader. But it’s worth noting is that none of her nominations came from the 300-plus pro-democracy members on the Election Committee.
In a radio interview Tuesday, Lam attributed her failure to win nominations from those members to a vote allocation strategy of the pan-democratic camp.
Stressing that she has been maintaining good relationship with the camp, Lam promised to do her best to communicate with as many committee members and citizens as she can during the remaining three weeks before the election.
The application form submitted by Lam, meanwhile, showed that some committee members who nominated the city’s incumbent leader, Leung Chun-ying, in the 2012 election did not throw their lot behind Lam this time.
At least 150 pro-Beijing members who were expected to vote for Lam have not nominated any candidate.
If all of the “undecided” pro-Beijing members give their votes to Lam on March 26, she could easily win the election by passing the 600-vote threshold required for the winner.
That said, there is a possibility that some of the members who nominated Lam may change their minds and not vote for her on the election day, according to Lau Siu-kai, vice-chairman of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong & Macao Studies.
Lau predicted that Lam may win the election with less than 689 votes, the number that Leung secured to clinch the 2012 race.
Regina Ip, leader of the pro-Beijing New People’s Party and a former security secretary, who is at risk of not winning enough nominations, said Lam is just using a strategy of “keeping nominations down” and that many of the undecided members, especially those from the pro-Beijing labor sector, will vote for her on March 26.
A person from Lam’s campaign camp admitted that such a strategy was indeed in place, explaining that Lam did not want to create an impression of being overbearing, especially since Ip is likely to drop out of the race.
Ivan Choy Chi-keung, a senior lecturer at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said the “keeping nominations down” strategy shows that Lam is trying to play safe.
If it turns out that she wins the election with final votes less than her nominations, it would make people think that some members were forced to nominate her under the pressure of Beijing’s liaison office in Hong Kong, Choy noted.
[Chinese version 中文版]
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