The debates are over but a tougher road lies ahead for Carrie Lam. With 90 percent of the questions directed at her in the second debate on Sunday night, Lam was able to recover from an early shock (she was asked why she didn’t cancel the Tin Shui Wai visit beforehand).
Unless President Xi Jinping suddenly turns his back on her, it is widely expected that the former chief secretary will emerge winner in the March 26 election.
The question is: would Lam win more than CY Leung, who received 689 votes?
Lam is lucky the election is not by universal suffrage or she will be the first to strike out.
A poll conducted by Benny Tai’s Citizens United in Action shows that only 1.5 percent of 65,000 respondents back her compared with 92 percent for rival John Tsang.
To make things worse, 96 percent oppose her becoming chief executive versus 4 percent against Tsang.
No wonder Tsang mocked Lam for being a “three-low” chief executive if elected — low popularity, low energy and low legitimacy — at Sunday night’s debate after she was criticized as a CY 2.0 and Tear 2.0 (code for tearing society apart).
Worries about Lam’s victory have turned into an issue, if not a crisis, among administrative officers.
Former legislator Emily Lau started the ball rolling. In her radio talk show, Lau said she overheard many AOs, including three permanent secretaries, that they would jump ship if Lam got the top job. In particular, one high-ranking civil servant cried after she was reportedly scolded by Lam.
An anonymous letter to Apple Daily from a sender nicknamed “Insider” lambasted Lam for her authoritarian style. The letter said Lam does not take too kindly to opposing views. It was alright if she is always right but many times she isn’t, the sender said.
The letter resonated with many people who do not like being micro-managed. But Lam hit back the same evening with a formal statement saying the letter was fabricated with no name attached.
The tide did not stop there.
Lau Sai-leung, a spin doctor during the Donald Tsang administration, called her a “control freak” in a Facebook post and said Lam once threatened to quit as Development Bureau chief in front of Henry Tang.
But Tang defended Lam, calling her caring and capable, but offered no word about her resignation.
Last night, Lam reiterated that she never scolded or disparaged anyone on her team but admitted that she spends less time in group gatherings because she has a full schedule.
Lam will continue to parry shots like these, not just in the coming week but possibly in the next five years.
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