wnol.info April 30 2017


Syria's Rebel Victories, Hong Kong's New Chief and Cyclone Debbie

April 30 2017, 06:46 | Irvin Gilbert

Hong Kong's leadership race a choice between lesser evils

Hong Kong Chief Executive candidates former Financial Secretary John Tsang and former Chief Secretary Carrie Lam react at a debate in Hong Kong China 14 March 2017

But overall the line-up of voters Sunday morning shaking hands with the candidates captured the common complaint that Hong Kong's tiny circle of electors in the leadership elections-1,194 people out of almost 3.8 million registered voters-mainly represents the city's elites.

John Tsang, the former Secretary of Finance, and a far more popular candidate in the city, received just 365 votes in the election.

Carrie Lam-Cheng Yuet-Ngor has been a long-time civil servant of Hong Kong and served as chief secretary of state to incumbent chief executive CY Leung.

A day after Beijing-backed Carrie Lam won Sunday's chief executive election, police are poised to arrest several leaders of the 2014 Occupy Movement, public broadcaster RTHK reports. The day after her win, police cracked down on key leaders of the 2014 pro-democracy protests.

Concerns of Beijing's interference have been heightened by the disappearance in 2015 of five Hong Kong booksellers, who resurfaced in detention on the mainland.

The 1,194-member "election committee" that chose Lam is comprised mainly of pro-China business tycoons and other elites, as well as all members of the local legislature.

Also facing charges are the two other founders of the Occupy Central movement - University of Hong Kong law professor Benny Tai, and Reverend Chu Yiu-ming - as well as six other student leaders and legislators who played important roles in the movement, protest leaders said. "Lam said her first job would be to reunite Hong Kong people and this will make that task much more hard".

They called for "true universal suffrage", carrying signs blasting the "scam election" and accusing participants in Sunday's vote of engaging in a whitewash.

Hong Kong was handed back to China by colonial ruler Britain in 1997 under a "one country, two systems" formula created to protect its freedoms and way of life.

Opinion polls show Tsang is comfortably ahead of Lam and the third candidate, retired judge Woo Kwok-hing.

His successor was elected by a 1,200-member, mostly pro-Beijing, Election Committee, rather than by the wider electorate.

"I believe that everyone knows that Hong Kong has an independent judiciary, which has been protected as one of our core values", Lee said.

In the ensuing years, China has made clear that it will not allow Hong Kong to become a base for subversion or a safe haven for those it considers a threat.

Hong Kong capitalists, represented by Tien, could only blame themselves for losing their political power in the city over the past decade.

Hong Kong's new leader Lam has nearly four decades of public service behind her.

The chief executive's role in Hong Kong is a tough balancing act, with demands from the central Chinese government in Beijing often at odds with the wishes of the city's 7.3 million people.

That reputation took a hit during a December trip to Beijing, when Mrs Lam - who was then mulling a run - announced plans to build a Hong Kong offshoot of China's Palace Museum.

For advocates of greater democracy in Hong Kong, Lam's election was a predictable.

These steps by Lam would ensure she gave herself more room to impress upon Hongkongers she could stand on her own in governing the city when it came to protecting the "two systems" part of the Hongkong-mainland relationship.

Former student federation leaders Tommy Cheung and Eason Chung, former Democratic Party lawmaker Lee Wing-tat, League of Social Democrats vice-chairman Raphael Wong, and lawmakers Tanya Chan and Shiu Ka-chun also reported to police on Monday.

She says she wants to tackle "easier things" like housing problems, education and health care first.

'It will be an uphill battle for Carrie Lam to regain trust and respect from the public.



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