Hong Kong-leader elect Carrie Lam said on Tuesday she was “very determined” to tackle the high cost of housing in the densely populated city, among the top concerns of foreign business people working there.
Lam, the Chinese-controlled financial hub’s former chief secretary, was chosen on Sunday by a 1,200-person committee to lead the city, pledging in her victory speech to unite political divisions, illustrated by huge pro-democracy protests in 2014, that have hindered policy-making and legislative work.
Speaking at a Credit Suisse investment conference in Hong Kong, Beijing-backed Lam also said the former British colony faced tough competition from the region and also from mainland Chinese cities which are “becoming very powerful”.
The cost of housing is one of Hong Kong’s biggest social issues and making homes more affordable was among outgoing leader Leung Chun-ying’s top priorities, something he failed to achieve.
Lam said land and labor were two “major bottlenecks” for Hong Kong’s development.
“On the land issue, I am very determined to tackle that in the next term of government in a big way,” she told an audience of 200 financial and business professionals.
“It’s not just looking at the annual land sale program but really, the long-term supply of land, or better still, a land bank for Hong Kong.”
Lam also pledged during her campaign to tackle the problem by increasing land supply.
Lam’s call to mend social divisions suffered a setback a day after she was elected when police on Monday charged nine organizers of the 2014 demonstrations, provoking anger among protesters.
In perhaps her strongest admission to date on China’s perceived behind-the-scenes interference in Hong Kong politics, she told a radio program she knew the Central Liaison Office, China’s top representative office in Hong Kong, had been involved in lobbying legislators in the past.
“We do not need our friends at the Central Liaison Office to worry,” she told reporters after the program, saying she wouldn’t welcome its involvement in Hong Kong affairs under her administration.
Since the 2014 protests, there have also been some calls for independence in the city which operates under a “one country, two systems” formula, allowing it freedoms not enjoyed on the Communist Party-ruled mainland.
Lam said if the city started to argue about whether it should become independent, then “we have no common basis to start this common journey to give Hong Kong a better future”.
The next few months will be critical for Leung and Lam, with Chinese President Xi Jinping expected to pay a visit on July 1 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover from British rule, with large protests expected.
The city also had a lot of catching up to do in terms of comprehensive double tax agreements, Lam said. In her victory speech on Sunday, Lam pledged to follow through on her promise to introduce a two-tier profits tax.
(Reporting by Venus Wu; Writing by Anne Marie Roantree; Editing by Nick Macfie)
Police on Monday called the leaders of Hong Kong’s 2014 pro-democracy Occupy protests, and six other politicians and activists, to tell them they will be prosecuted – only a day after Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor won a divisive chief executive election.
The news came less than an hour after outgoing chief executive Leung Chun-ying’s first meeting with chief executive-elect Lam, who won the city leadership on Sunday.
Some of those set to be charged said the move was a “poisoned chalice” for Lam, deliberately left by Leung, while another said he thought the calls had been delayed until after the poll to protect Lam’s campaign.
Carrie Lam met Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying on Monday morning. Photo: Handout
Lam said Leung had “responded positively” during the meeting to her election pledge to unify a divided city. She said she did not know if the timing of the calls so soon after her election had been deliberate, and said bridging political divides “should not compromise rule of law”.
Officers called three chief organisers of the 79-day sit-ins, Occupy Central co-founders Benny Tai Yiu-ting, Reverend Chu Yiu-ming and Dr Chan Kin-man.
League of Social Democrats activist Raphael Wong Ho-ming and former legislator Lee Wing-tat were also called. So were legislators Tanya Chan and Shiu Ka-chun, and former core members of the Hong Kong Federation of Students Eason Chung Yiu-wah and Tommy Cheung Sau-yin.
Occupy Central co-founders University of Hong Kong law scholar Benny Tai Yiu-ting (centre), Reverend Chu Yiu-ming (right) and Dr Chan Kin-man (left) will face charges. Photo: Sam Tsang
They are required to turn up at police headquarters in Wan Chai, where they are expected to face arrest and charge.
Shiu said the government was using “political cleansing” to reconcile society.
“On one hand it was said reconciliation was what we need, and that parties across the political spectrum and [different] camps should come together in the coming four or five years,” he said. “But it turns out the method to reconcile is by way of political cleansing.”
Tanya Chan called it a “poisoned chalice” designed by Leung for Lam, who is now left with a more difficult task despite her peacemaking mantra.
In a statement, pro-democracy group Demosisto highlighted the timing of the calls, noting that they came “immediately after Carrie Lam’s victory”.
Lam had been dubbed “CY 2.0” – a reference to the current chief executive’s initials – as people feared she would continue Leung’s hardline approach to social dissent.
In 2014, protesters took part in an unprecedented sit-in to block major thoroughfares in three of the city’s major districts – Admiralty, Mong Kok and Causeway Bay – to voice discontent at a restrictive election framework Beijing proposed for Hong Kong on August 31 that year.
More than 1,000 people were arrested during the protests, which were eventually cleared by police. Of those, 216 have already been dealt with by the courts.
Chan Kin-man confirmed police called him on Monday morning and told him he faced a public nuisance charge. He said he will go to court on Thursday.
Chan said he, Chu and Tai had expected the prosecution, but also noted the timing.
Chan Kin-man, pictured in 2014, said police called him on Monday morning. Photo: AFP
“The prosecution has come a day after the CE election. Obviously the government didn’t want to affect the election and the campaigning,” Chan, a sociology professor, said.
But Lee said he suspected Leung had timed the prosecutions to embarrass Lam.
“Leung doesn’t believe in the need to mend the social rift,” the veteran Democratic Party member said. “He seems to be setting the tone and wanting Lam to follow his hardline approach.”
In response to the news, Lam said she had “no knowledge” of whether the action was delayed to embarrass her, or for any other reason.
“This is the action of the current administration,” she said.
She added: “Prosecution actions are undertaken independently by the Department of Justice under the Basic Law.
“[While] I want to unite society and bridge the divide that had been causing us concern, any such action should not compromise the rule of law in Hong Kong.”
Tai confirmed he was also called on Monday morning. He said he was seeking legal advice.
Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung told the Legislative Council last month that police had directed 287 cases to his department for legal advice by the end of last August, including for those who might have led the movement. He said his department had answered all the requests by the end of last year.
Chinese president told Leung Chun-ying last November to maintain social and political stability
South China Morning Post
November 22, 2016
President Xi Jinping and Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying shake hands in front of the cameras. Photo: Xinhua
President Xi Jinping has for the first time sent a “forceful” message to Hong Kong against independence advocacy, urging Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying to ensure stability and safeguard national unity.
After their 45-minute meeting on the sidelines on the Apec summit in the Peruvian capital, Leung said on Monday that they did not discuss his possible re-election bid when Hong Kong chooses its leader next March.
Instead, he said Xi was “very concerned” about Hong Kong, but also “very supportive of” the Leung administration’s handling of the row over two pro-independence lawmakers who were disqualified for insulting China while taking their oaths.
“[Xi] fully acknowledged my work and the [government’s] work … including the recent handling of the Legco oath-taking [controversy],” Leung said.
“Very simply put – and very forcefully – the president said there is no room whatsoever for Hong Kong independence under the ‘one country, two systems’ arrangement.”
Pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong (centre) at protests on election day. Reuters photo
Professor Lau Siu-kai, a leading Beijing adviser on Hong Kong affairs, said the central government wanted to avoid any room for speculation about its preference for the next chief executive at this critical timing.
“What is noteworthy is that unlike on similar occasions in the past, Xi didn’t give positive comments on Leung’s work before the cameras, and those remarks were only carried in the Xinhua report released subsequently,” Lau said.
The two leaders sat side by side during the meeting. Photo: SCMP Pictures
China’s official Xinhua news agency reported that, while fully acknowledging the work of Leung and his government, the president told Leung to lead his team “to continue to implement policies in a comprehensive manner, to build broad social consensus, to focus on boosting economic development and improving the people’s well-being, to safeguard national unity, and to maintain social and political stability”.
Asked if he felt let down that Xi had no made comment on his possible aspirations for a second term as chief executive, Leung replied: “I had no plan to raise any of my personal matters with the president in this meeting today, nor did I expect him to say anything about me standing for re-election or not.”
During the photo opportunity at the start of their meeting in Lima at the hotel where he was staying, the president smiled as he briefly shook hands with Leung.
“It took 20 to 30 hours to fly here, right? It took a total of 27 hours,” Xi said, engaging in small talk with Leung in front of the cameras as the Hong Kong leader compared the difference in travelling time to Lima between Beijing and Hong Kong.
Also watched was the seating arrangement, after Leung’s duty visit to Beijing last year, when Xi sat at the far end of the table with the chief executive on the side to signal the president’s superior status as the head of state. This time the pair sat side by side.
Leung left Lima on Monday after a three-day stop to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.
This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as:
HONG KONG (AFP) – Police cracked down on Hong Kong democracy activists Monday saying they would be charged over the Umbrella Movement mass protests, a day after a pro-Beijing candidate was chosen as the city’s new leader.
Carrie Lam was selected as the new chief executive Sunday by a committee dominated by pro-China voters, but promised to try to unify the deeply divided city.
The vote was dismissed as a sham by democracy campaigners who fear Beijing is tightening its grip on semi-autonomous Hong Kong and say Lam will be no different from its unpopular current leader, Leung Chun-ying.
Those concerns were heightened Monday when police informed several leading campaigners who took part in the Umbrella Movement of 2014 that they would be charged in connection with the rallies.
The protests saw tens of thousands take to the streets calling for fully free leadership elections, but failed to win concessions from Beijing.
Civic Party lawmaker Tanya Chan told AFP she had received a call from police Friday morning telling her she would be charged with causing a public nuisance, with a maximum sentence of seven years.
“They said it was related to the ‘illegal occupation’ of 2014,” she said, describing it as a “death kiss” from Leung, who will step down in July.
Chan said she had been arrested immediately after the protests, but had never been charged.
She will report to a police station Monday evening and will go to court Thursday.
Chan added she would take responsibility for participation in “civil disobedience activity”, but said the timing undermined Lam’s unity pledge.
Activist Raphael Wong of the League of Social Democrats told AFP he would also be charged with public nuisance and blamed Leung.
“As Carrie Lam talks about unity, they are saying you don’t need it,” he told AFP.
Professor Chan Kin-man, a founding member of Hong Kong’s Occupy Central, one of the groups behind the protests, also received a call from police informing him of an impending charge and called the move “ridiculous”.
“It shows the government has no intention to heal the divisions,” Chan said.
Local media reported that police informed a total of nine activists that they would face charges.
Lam did not directly respond over whether the move would further divide Hong Kong.
“Prosecution actions are undertaken independently by the department of justice,” she told reporters.
She repeated that she wanted unity, but said her approach “should not compromise the rule of law in Hong Kong”.
Pro-democracy campaigner Joshua Wong, one of the leaders of the Umbrella Movement, described the crackdown as “political persecution”.
He was not among those who received a police notice of charges.
Wong, legislator Nathan Law and former student protester Alex Chow were all convicted last year for taking part in, or inciting others to take part in, an anti-China protest that led up to the major rallies.
They were given community service or suspended sentences.
Resolution for Hong Kong’s Future — Hongkongers themselves should decide the political status of Hong Kong
Tanya Chan Suk-chong released a declaration entitled “Resolution for Hong Kong’s Future”. It was signed by more than 30 young individuals from various pro-democracy groups and stated that Hongkongers themselves should decide the political status of Hong Kong after 2047.
Tanya Chan. Photo: Apple Daily/HKFP remix.
Chan, a co-founder of the Civic Party and former lawmaker, said: “Even though I’m in a political party myself, speaking as a signatory to the declaration I can say that we’re not releasing this for the upcoming Legislative Council elections. Some of the signatories are scholars. We’re not targeting just one or two elections,” Chan said on RTHK.
Chan also said that in light of the questions Hong Kong is facing regarding its future, it would be irresponsible to look at just these elections and then feel satisfied at having solved the problem.
“As a Civic Party member, this is even more so – I won’t say that [the declaration] will affect the elections. What we’re talking about here is ‘internal self-determination’ – it does not include [ideas of] Hong Kong independence. We hope that it will determine the political structure for self-rule.”
“If we can’t implement internal self-rule, then maybe we would look at external self-rule such as Hong Kong independence, but I think everyone understands that – at this point in time – we do not have the conditions to discuss this.”
Chan also said that right now, Hong Kong lacked the relevant legal basis for independence.
HONG KONG (AFP) – Hong Kong’s new leader Carrie Lam, seen as tough and capable by supporters but hated by the pro-democracy camp, faces a difficult task in calming political tensions in the divided city.
Voted in as chief executive Sunday by a committee weighted towards Beijing, critics say she will only further polarise a society riven by protests two years ago that centred on fears of China’s growing influence.
Lam, who will be the first woman to run Hong Kong, rose through the ranks as a career civil servant before taking public office.
She served as deputy to Hong Kong’s outgoing leader Leung Chun-ying and is tainted by her association with an unpopular figure who was criticised for doing Beijing’s bidding while in office.
Lam is nicknamed “lai-ma” or “wet-nurse” by opponents in a jibe over what they say was fawning loyalty towards her former boss.
Her negative image among activists was sealed when she promoted a Beijing-backed reform package rejected as “fake democracy” by opponents.
The plan triggered mass street protests in 2014 that paralysed the city for more than two months but failed to win concessions from Beijing on fully free leadership elections.
Lam has made no commitment to revisit the political reform debate, instead trying to connect with the public on livelihood issues.
The 59-year-old cast herself as a force for change on the campaign trail, focusing on issues such as poverty and housing which have also fuelled unrest.
Although she was well behind main rival John Tsang in most opinion polls before the vote, she had strong support among older residents.
Ex-finance minister Tsang, seen as a more moderate establishment figure, garnered backing from young people.
Lam was widely perceived as Beijing’s favoured candidate throughout the race and was viewed as the most likely winner.
Her resignation from her position as deputy leader in January, a move that signalled her candidacy, was quickly endorsed by Beijing.
In contrast, Tsang’s resignation took more than a month to be approved by Chinese authorities.
Lam has promised to try to build consensus and “restore faith and hope” in Hong Kong. But she has also said she would “strengthen the relationship between Hong Kong and China”.
“Hong Kong, our home, is suffering from quite a serious divisiveness and has accumulated a lot of frustrations. My priority will be to heal the divide,” she said in a victory speech.
Lam has also emphasised there is no room for independence for the city, responding to a rise in calls for a direct split from China by some young activists — a sentiment views as unthinkable just a few years ago.
Her bid to be seen as a woman of the people hit stumbling blocks as she sought the leadership.
While using the city’s underground rail network as part of campaigning, she appeared unfamiliar with how to use the ubiquitous “Octopus” travel card to get through barriers.
She was also mocked for a lack of common sense after an anecdote related to reporters — about a late-night hunt for toilet paper — revealed she didn’t know where to buy essentials in a city packed with convenience stores.
However in an election decided by a committee heavily weighted towards Beijing and branded unrepresentative by many campaigners, she eventually won by 777 votes, against Tsang’s 365, and with former judge Woo Kwok-hing gaining 21.
Carrie Lam was congratulated after winning the vote on Sunday for chief executive of Hong Kong.CreditBobby Yip/Reuters.A yellow umbrella, the symbol of the Occupy Central movement, is displayed before candidates John Tsang, Carrie Lam and Woo Kwok-hing (L-R) after Lam won the election for Hong Kong’s next Chief Executive in Hong Kong, China March 26, 2017. REUTERS/Bobby Yip.
Hong Kong chooses new Beijing-backed leader amid political tension
A Beijing-backed civil servant, Carrie Lam, was chosen to be Hong Kong’s next leader on Sunday amid accusations that Beijing is meddling and denying the financial hub a more populist leader perhaps better able to defuse political tension.
The majority of the China-ruled city’s 7.3 million people have no say in deciding their leader, who is chosen from among several candidates by a 1,200-person “election committee” stacked with pro-Beijing and pro-establishment loyalists.
Lam, who will become Hong Kong’s first female chief executive when she takes office on July 1, won 777 votes compared with 365 for her closest rival, former financial secretary John Tsang, who polls show is more popular.
There were several invalid protest ballots including one that carried an obscenity.
“Hong Kong, our home, is suffering from quite a serious divisiveness,” Lam said in a victory speech.
“My priority will be to heal the divide and to ease the frustration, and to unite our society to move forward.”
Lam also pledged to follow through on election promises including introducing a “two-tier” profits tax, reducing tax to spur research and development, tackling the high cost of housing by increasing land supply and boosting education spending.
She also promised to defend the rule of law and freedom of expression as integral to underpinning prosperity.
“Hong Kong needs new thinking,” she said.
Carrie Lam (2nd L) smiles as officials count votes during the election for Hong Kong’s next Chief Executive in Hong Kong, China, March 26, 2017. REUTERS/Bobby Yip
Some scuffles broke out outside the voting center between protesters and police, who used metal barricades to keep the demonstrations well away.
The activists denounced Beijing’s “interference” amid widespread reports of lobbying of voters to back Lam, rather than Tsang.
Some protesters chanted “I want universal suffrage” and unfurled yellow umbrellas, a symbol of the civil disobedience “umbrella movement”, when the result was announced.
“Lies, coercion, whitewash,” read one banner. A big yellow banner calling for full democracy was hung from the Lion Rock peak overlooking the city.
“The central government has intervened again and again,” said Carmen Tong, a 20-year-old student. “It’s very unjust.”
Hundreds of Lam’s supporters waved Chinese flags and cheered inside and outside the venue after her win.
Since Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997, Beijing has gradually increased control over it even though it promised wide-ranging freedoms and autonomy not allowed on the mainland under the formula of “one country, two systems”, along with an undated promise of universal suffrage.
Many, including opposition democrats, fear Lam will stick to the tough policies of staunchly pro-Beijing incumbent Leung Chun-ying, who ordered the firing of teargas on pro-democracy protesters in 2014 and who was not seen to be defending Hong Kong’s autonomy and core values.
“She doesn’t have a strong foundation, nor will she have a honeymoon after she’s elected,” said political scientist Ivan Choy.
“But whether she will further divide society we still have to wait and see what she does, whether she will continue the approach of Leung.”
All of Hong Kong’s three other post-handover leaders have struggled to balance the demands of China’s stability-obsessed Communist Party leaders, with the wish of many residents to preserve the global financial hub’s liberal values and rule of law that have long underpinned its economic success.
In 2014, parts of the city were paralyzed when tens of thousands of protesters blocked major roads for nearly three months to demand Beijing allow full democracy; demands that were ignored amid some violent clashes.
China’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office congratulated Lam, saying she should not disappoint the people and should seek to “comprehensively unite all sectors of society”, strengthen development, and “work hard to forge a new situation”, the official Xinhua news agency said.
Some city residents see China’s creeping interference in business, media, politics, academia and the judiciary as tarnishing the city’s international business allure.
The detention in 2015 of five Hong Kong booksellers who sold material critical of Beijing also dismayed many residents.
The upheavals over the city’s autonomy and democratic reforms have roiled a new generation and weighed on the city’s economy, ranked 33rd globally by the World Bank in 2015. Hong Kong’s richest man, Li Ka-shing, warned this week the city couldn’t afford another five years of strife.
Hong Kong had been presented with a reform package, offering the possibility of a direct vote for this leadership race, though only of candidates essentially pre-screened by Beijing. The blueprint was vetoed in 2015 by pro-democracy lawmakers as “fake” Chinese-style democracy.
Political and social divisions have led to some legislative and policy-making paralysis and the stalling of major projects, including a cultural hub and high-speed rail link to China.
While Hong Kong’s proximity to China has been a boon, bringing investment and spending, businesses have also faced growing competition from mainland firms in sectors like services and property.
Housing prices, now among the world’s highest, are widely seen to have been pushed up by a wave of buying from rich Chinese, intensifying anti-mainland China sentiment.
(Reporting by James Pomfret, Venus Wu and Katy Wong in Hong Kong; Dominique Patton in Beijing; Editing by Robert Birsel)
In Pictures: Election day banner demanding democracy appears on Hong Kong’s Lion Rock
Pro-democracy activists hung a yellow banner with the words “I want genuine universal suffrage” on Hong Kong’s famous Lion Rock mountain peak on the morning of its small-circle chief executive election.
‘I want genuine universal suffrage.’ Photo: Avery Ng via Facebook.
Police have so far not removed Sunday’s banner, but the previous banners were removed within hours of being discovered.
The banners during the Occupy protests. Photo: HKFP.
The small-circle election will be held on Sunday from 9am to 11am. Candidates are former chief secretary Carrie Lam – heavily rumoured to be favoured by Beijing, the popular former financial secretary John Tsang, and retired judge Woo Kwok-hing.
City’s first female chief executive says mending social rifts will be her top priority
Carrie Lam must now balance the demands of mainland Chinese authorities who are seeking greater control over Hong Kong life with city residents who are accustomed to Western norms such as rule of law.PHOTO: BOBBY YIP/REUTERS
By CHESTER YUNG and JOHN LYONS
The Wall Street Journal
Updated March 26, 2017 4:17 a.m. ET
HONG KONG—Hong Kong’s electoral committee picked a staunchly pro-China candidate to lead the city in voting that underscored Beijing’s growing political influence on the former British colony.
The 1,194-member committee stacked with pro-Beijing business leaders and politicians chose Carrie Lam, a longtime city official who was widely viewed as Beijing’s favorite in the three-person race. During the campaign, electors acknowledged receiving phone calls from Beijing representatives instructing them to pick Ms. Lam.
The vote for chief executive comes at a sensitive time for Beijing. This summer marks the 20th anniversary of Britain’s handover of Hong Kong to China. Meanwhile, President Xi Jinping is tightening political control ahead of a Communist Party congress this fall that is expected to further cement his leadership. Both events put a premium on having a Hong Kong leader in place who can avoid political disturbances such as those in 2014, when dissatisfaction with the political process led to widespread pro-democracy protests.
Ms. Lam, a 59-year-old mother of two, steps into a post fraught with pitfalls. The former bureaucrat, who will become the city’s first female chief executive, must now balance the demands of mainland Chinese authorities who are seeking greater control over Hong Kong life with city residents who are accustomed to Western norms such as rule of law.
She defeated John Tsang, a U.S.-educated Hong Kong civil servant who polls indicated was far more popular than Ms. Lam, but who was widely seen as lacking the backing of Beijing. Ms. Lam garnered 777 votes, compared with 365 for Mr. Tsang and 21 for a third-place finisher. She will serve a five-year term.
In a speech after the results were announced, Ms. Lam said she would focus on mending social rifts.
“My priority will be to heal the divide and to ease the frustrations, and to unite our society to move forward,” she said.
Ms. Lam campaigned on increasing spending to alleviate day-to-day problems such as housing shortages and improve social services in a city with one of the widest rich-poor gaps for any developed society.
A yellow umbrella, the symbol of the 2014 pro-democracy protests, is displayed before candidates John Tsang, Carrie Lam and Woo Kwok-hing after the election results were announced.PHOTO: BOBBY YIP/REUTERS
But tensions resurfaced on Sunday as protesters decried the result, which they deem undemocratic because the city’s 7.35 million people have no direct vote. A small group of protesters carrying signs and shouting pro-autonomy slogans inside the convention hall where the ballots were counted briefly disrupted the announcement of Ms. Lam’s victory. Ms Lam stood expressionless on a stage until the disturbance died down.
Political analyst Dixon Sing says Ms. Lam may come under pressure from Beijing to pass laws that further curb freedoms in Hong Kong.
‘My priority will be to heal the divide and to ease the frustrations, and to unite our society to move forward’
“Carrie Lam’s ability and willingness to resist Beijing’s hard-line policy will be a challenge for her legitimacy in the eyes of Hong Kong people,” said Mr. Sing, an associate professor at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.
The Demosisto party, founded by some of the leaders of the 2014 pro-democracy protests, said the result Sunday was a “nightmare” for the people of Hong Kong.
“[Ms.] Lam’s victory despite her lack of representation and popular support reflects the Chinese Communist Party’s complete control over Hong Kong’s electoral process and its serious intrusion of Hong Kong’s autonomy,” the group said in a statement.
Hong Kong activists say China is eroding the promise of autonomy enshrined in a “one country, two systems” agreement sealing the U.K.’s 1997 handover of its former colony.
China has counted on support from Hong Kong elites with deep business ties on the mainland, as well what some call a silent majority of locals who see bucking China as futile and would rather spend their energy earning a living and keeping up with steadily rising property prices.
Carrie Lam celebrated victory and then faced the press. EPA photo
Mrs Lam’s main rival, former finance chief John Tsang, was the public’s favourite, according to opinion polls.
The third candidate, and the most liberal, was retired judge Woo Kwok-hing.
Mrs Lam garnered 777 votes to Mr Tsang’s 365. Mr Woo received 21.
In a sign of continuing divisions, pro-democracy groups held protests outside the election venue, calling the process a sham.
Calls for fully free elections have failed, despite intense demonstrations, known as the “umbrella protests“, in 2014.
Hong Kong’s Election Committee picked Mrs Lam to succeed current leader CY Leung, who will step down in July. She was formerly his deputy.
Mrs Lam, a long-time civil servant, is nicknamed the nanny because of her background running numerous government projects.
During the 2014 protests, which were spearheaded by young people, she took the unpopular stance of defending Beijing’s concessions for political reform.
This allowed Hong Kong people to choose their leader but only from pre-approved candidates.
Pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong (centre) at protests on election day. Reuters photo
Pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong, who was among those protesting and was a lead figure in the umbrella movement, has called the electoral process “a selection rather than an election”.
When the result was announced, he tweeted that Mrs Lam had been elected with “only 777 votes”.
On Facebook, an online protest was launched called No Election in Hong Kong Now, which showed a video montage of regular citizens going about their business as the election took place to highlight how they were not entitled to participate.
Mr Leung has proved unpopular with large swathes of Hong Kong residents who consider him too tightly aligned to Beijing.
At the end of the 2016, he made the unexpected announcement that he would not run again, citing family reasons.
Outgoing leader CY Leung was elected in 2012 and, unusually, only served one term. AFP / GETTY IMAGES
Hong Kong is governed under the principle of “one country, two systems”, under which China has agreed to give the region semi-autonomous status since its 1997 handover from Britain.
The Election Committee includes 70 members of the territory’s legislature, the Legislative Council – half of whom are directly elected.
However, most of the Election Committee is chosen by business, professional or special interest groups.
Critics say entities that lean towards Beijing are given disproportionately large representation.
Carrie Lam Wins Vote to Become Hong Kong’s Next Leader
By ALAN WONG
The New York Times
MARCH 26, 2017
HONG KONG — A committee dominated by supporters of the Chinese government chose Carrie Lam as Hong Kong’s next leader on Sunday, opting for Beijing’s preferred candidate in a move likely to dismay residents who see the city’s freedoms as being under threat from China.
Mrs. Lam, a former No. 2 official in the city, received 777 out of 1,163 votes cast to become the next chief executive, as Hong Kong’s leader is called. She defeated John Tsang, a former finance secretary who polls indicated was more popular with the public.
The leader of this semiautonomous Chinese city of 7.3 million is chosen by just 1,194 electors, most of them business and political figures who have close ties to Beijing.
In an apparent act of protest, one elector drew a cross on the ballot with stickers, and another wrote an obscenity on it.
Hong Kong is guaranteed civil liberties and a high degree of autonomy under the terms of the 1997 handover that returned the city, a former British colony, to Chinese rule — an arrangement known as “one country, two systems.” But many believe China has violated that agreement with increasingly open interference in its affairs.
“China promised that Hong Kong people would run Hong Kong,” said Mabel Yau, 52, one of hundreds of protesters outside the voting site. “Today, only 1,200 people are representing us in electing the chief executive. Is it fair?”
Such concerns are unlikely to be eased by the choice of Mrs. Lam, who was a loyal deputy to Leung Chun-ying, the unpopular departing chief executive.
In a speech after the vote, Mrs. Lam vowed to prioritized mending social rifts. “Hong Kong, our home, is suffering from quite a lot of divisiveness,” she said. During her campaign, she added, “I heard so much more from peoples’ hearts and learned and experienced many new things as well as different angles to things. I see my shortcomings and understand that I must put in more efforts.”
Mrs. Lam led the failed effort to overhaul the city’s election process according to Beijing’s wishes, which prompted the so-called Umbrella Movement protests that shut down parts of the city for months in 2014.
“When the No. 2 official becomes the No. 1, there isn’t going to be much change,” said Joshua Wong, one of the leaders of those protests. “ ‘One country, two systems’ is going down the drain, and our high degree of autonomy will exist in name only,” Mr. Wong said.
Hong Kong’s three leadership candidates, from left: John Tsang Chun-wah, Carrie Lam-Cheng Yuet-Ngor and Woo Kok-hing before facing off in their first televised debate in Hong Kong this month.CreditAnthony Wallace/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images.
Hong Kong’s new leader will be selected on Sunday. Since Britain handed the territory back to China in 1997, the election of the chief executive — which is performed by a special 1,200-member committee stacked in Beijing’s favor — has generally been a foregone conclusion. But this year China’s leaders may not be able to dictate the outcome. A faction of powerful local business interests sidelined during the last election, in 2012, will come out on top no matter the result of the vote itself.
In December, the unpopular current chief executive, Leung Chun-ying, suddenly announced that he would not seek a second term. Mr. Leung, long regarded as Beijing’s loyal henchman, apparently lost its favors after overplaying his hand. His hard-line rule precipitated the momentous pro-democracy Umbrella Movement of 2014. And although those protests failed to achieve their immediate goals — real universal suffrage and Mr. Leung’s removal from office — they have spawned a bold separatist movement that has made headway in recent months, including in the local legislature.
The Central Liaison Office, Beijing’s formal representation in Hong Kong, has nonetheless come out strongly in support of Carrie Lam-Cheng Yuet-Ngor, Mr. Leung’s trusted and equally hard-line number two, as his replacement. China’s leaders may want to reduce anti-Beijing sentiment in Hong Kong by adopting a softer line, but endorsing a more liberal candidate might come across as a tacit admission that choosing Mr. Leung in 2012 was a mistake, and may mean too great a loss of face for those supposedly infallible leaders.
Beijing favourite Carrie Lam was selected as Hong Kong’s new leader on Sunday by a mainly pro-China committee, in an election dismissed as a sham by democracy activists who fear the loss of the city’s cherished freedoms.
It is the first leadership vote since mass “Umbrella Movement” rallies calling for fully free elections in 2014 failed to win reforms and comes after a turbulent term under current chief executive Leung Chun-ying.
Leung, who is seen by opponents as a Beijing puppet, and will step down in July after five years in charge.
Hong Kong is semi-autonomous and has been governed under a “one country, two systems” deal since it was handed back to China by Britain in 1997.
But, 20 years on, there are serious concerns Beijing is disregarding the handover agreement designed to protect Hong Kong’s way of life.
Around three quarters of the 1,194 members of the election committee were from the mainland camp.
An emotional Lam bowed to supporters at it was announced she had won comprehensively with 777 votes against 365 for her more moderate establishment rival John Tsang.
The third and most liberal candidate, Woo Kwok-hing, received just 21 votes.
Frustration at what activists see as China’s increasing influence and a lack of promised political reform has sparked calls for self-determination for Hong Kong, or even a complete split from China.
Lam was widely seen as Beijing’s pick for the job throughout the race and will become Hong Kong’s first ever woman chief executive.
She is intensely disliked by the pro-democracy camp after promoting the Beijing-backed reform package that sparked 2014’s massive protests.
That plan said the public could choose the city leader in 2017, but insisted candidates must be vetted first.
It was eventually voted down in parliament by pro-democracy lawmakers and reforms have been shelved ever since.
Hundreds of protesters including leading pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong gathered near the harbour-front voting venue.
They chanted: “Oppose central authority appointment, we choose our own government!”
Protesters were held back by police as some tried to push through barriers.
Nearby, pro-China supporters played marching music surrounded by national and city flags.
Rebel legislator Nathan Law, who as a lawmaker has an automatic vote, said he would enter a blank ballot.
“It is still a selection from the Beijing government,” Law told AFP.
Representatives of a broad number of sectors, from business to education, sit on the committee that chooses the chief executive, but the vast majority of the city’s 3.8 million electorate have no say in the vote.
Leading business figures including Hong Kong’s richest man Li Ka-shing waved to reporters as they went in to cast their votes.
Pro-democracy committee members threw their weight behind Lam’s main rival, ex-finance secretary Tsang.
But activists said he was still on the side of Beijing rejected the vote outright as unrepresentative of Hong Kong people.
Lam will face an uphill struggle to unite a city in which young people in particular have lost faith in the political system and their overall prospects.
With salaries too low to meet the cost of property in an overpriced market fuelled by mainland money, getting ahead in life is seen as increasingly difficult.
She says she will try to build consensus by focusing on social issues, including poverty and housing.
But critics say she is dodging the bigger political questions and will pave the way for Beijing to extend its influence.
That anxiety comes off the back of a number of incidents under Leung that rocked public confidence.
They include the disappearance in 2015 of five Hong Kong booksellers known for publishing salacious titles about China’s political elite. The booksellers all resurfaced in detention on the mainland.
Books banned by China In Hong Kong. Photo by Todd Darling, HKFP.
Last year, the disqualification from parliament of two publicly elected pro-independence lawmakers following a Beijing intervention also prompted accusations the city’s legislature had been seriously compromised.
Two ousted pro-independence Hong Kong lawmakers on Wednesday announced they were making a final bid to overturn a controversial Beijing-linked ban preventing them from taking up their seats in parliament.
Yau Wai-ching and Baggio Leung were elected in citywide polls in September but deliberately misread their oaths of office during their swearing-in ceremony, inserting expletives and draping themselves with “Hong Kong is not China” flags.
This prompted a rare interference by Chinese authorities.
From Peace and Freedom judicial analyst in China: “Many in the West may not know that much of the Beijing government has a Coterie that too frequently stretches the laws of “normal” legal behaviour. Men get kidnapped. Some get killed. Arms get broken. Wives go missing. It is much like an American mafia movie.”
Many still believe universal suffrage was Hong Kong’s destiny
HONG KONG (AFP) – Pro-democracy activists and hundreds of supporters marched in Hong Kong Saturday ahead of a vote for the city’s next leader which they reject as a sham.Hong Kong’s next chief executive will be chosen by a pro-China committee on Sunday morning with former deputy leader Carrie Lam widely seen as Beijing’s favourite for the job, but intensely disliked by the democracy camp who view her as a hardliner.
It is the first leadership vote in the semi-autonomous city since mass rallies in 2014 calling for fully free elections failed to win reform and comes as concern grows that Beijing is increasingly interfering in Hong Kong.
Some of the marchers on Saturday held yellow umbrellas, symbol of the democracy movement, and chanted “Oppose Chinese authorities’ appointment — we should choose our own government!”
The city’s best-known pro-democracy campaigner, Joshua Wong, said he expected more protesters to gather Sunday as committee members cast their votes at the harbourfront convention centre.
“It will be a nightmare for us if Carrie Lam is elected, but we will still continue to generate more motivation to fight against suppression and the interference of China’s government,” said student Wong, 20, who became the face of the 2014 “Umbrella Movement” protests.
The pro-democracy camp makes up only a quarter of the 1,194-strong election committee, which is drawn from a range of special interest groups, ranging from agriculture to real estate.
Most democrats on the committee have said they will support Lam’s main rival John Tsang, a former finance minister seen as a more moderate establishment figure.
Tsang drew thousands of supporters to his final campaign rally in central Hong Kong Friday night, and is a clear favourite in most public opinion polls.
However, the vast majority of Hong Kong’s 3.8 million voters do not participate in the selection of the chief executive and Lam is widely expected to win thanks to support from pro-China members of the election committee.
Democracy campaigners marching Saturday from the commercial area of Causeway Bay to a square near Sunday’s voting venue said regardless of what people thought of the individual candidates, the system needed to change.
“I feel our power is still not strong enough to bargain with the Beijing government,” said lawmaker Eddie Chu, but he added he still believed universal suffrage was Hong Kong’s destiny.
The 2014 rallies left campaigners frustrated they could not force concessions from China and sparked a new wave of young activists calling for self-determination or full independence for Hong Kong.
However, it is not only the younger generation who are dissatisfied.
One 59-year-old protester who gave her name as Miss Lau said most Hong Kong residents want their own vote.
“I’m a Hong Kong citizen — it is my right,” she told AFP.
HONG KONG (AFP) – Shares in a Hong Kong-listed Chinese dairy crashed more than 90 percent on Thursday, in one of the city’s biggest sell-offs that wiped billions from its market capitalisation.China Huishan Dairy collapsed 91 percent in late morning trade before paring back marginally and heading into the break 85 percent down at HK$0.42.
Trading in the shares was suspended by the start of the afternoon session.
It was not initially clear what caused the sudden sell-off but Bloomberg News reported that hedge fund Muddy Waters had said in December the firm was ?worth close to zero? and raised questions about its profitability.
The fund, created by short-seller Carson Block, said Huishan had been overstating how much it had spent on cow farms in order to “support the company’s income statement”.
The dairy at the time called for a brief trading halt but dismissed the claims as groundless. It also said chairman Yang Kai had even built on his holdings in the firm, according to the Financial Times.
Until Friday, Huishan had enjoyed a relatively stable performance since its 2013 listing.