Chief executive candidate and lawmaker Regina Ip has admitted that some of her supporters switched to support her opponent Carrie Lam, after the outgoing official announced her bid for Hong Kong’s leadership position.

“Some people who had promised to vote for me switched their position after Carrie Lam declared her candidacy. I don’t mind. I don’t mind,” she said on Monday at a talk show with former Democratic Party lawmaker Emily Lau.

regina ip emily lau
Regina Ip (R) attended a talk show with Emily Lau (L). Photo: The Democratic Party, via Facebook.

“I only hope that we will have a fair and open election, with fairness being of utmost importance.”

She stressed the importance of procedural fairness, which she defined as going through the steps of debating with opponents and explaining one’s platform to the Election Committee members and the public.

Pre-destined winner 

Ip also criticised the practice of previous chief executive elections whereby a “chosen” candidate was guaranteed to win.

“If someone promises you 700 votes [out of 1,200], you won’t need to face the public or even the press. You won’t feel the need to garner support and you will become complacent and over-confident,” Ip said. “What governance style will you end up with?”

Since Lam declared her intention to join the race last Thursday, many in the pro-Beijing camp have voiced their support for the former Hong Kong number 2. Since Saturday, Beijing-backed papers Wen Wei Po and Ta Kung Pao have been running positive reports about Lam on their front pages.

Carrie Lam
Carrie Lam. Photo: RTHK screenshot.

Chan Wing-kee, a member of China’s top political advisory body – the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference Standing Committee – said Monday that Lam is a more competent candidate.

Political analyst Lau Siu-kai, who leads a Beijing’s top think tank on Hong Kong affairs, also said that – based on formal and informal sources he had collected – the Chinese government appeared to be “more focused on Lam.”

In a statement issued on Monday following Beijing’s approval of the resignation of Lam and former finance secretary John Tsang, Ip said: “I welcome competitive elections, and expect all candidates to explain their platforms to the public so that Hong Kong will have a fair, open and impartial election.”

Regina Ip
Regina Ip. Photo: SocRec.

Ip, 66, served in the government for decades until her resignation as security secretary in 2003, following the Article 23 security law controversy that sparked a public outcry. In 2011, she set up her own pro-Beijing party – the New People’s Party. Ip has been a lawmaker since 2008, representing the Hong Kong Island constituency.

She expressed her intention to run for chief executive in 2012, but dropped out after failing to obtain 150 nominations required to formally stand as a candidate.

Tsang is expected to join the Chief Executive race this week. Another candidate running for the top job is ex-judge Woo Kwok-hing.

Ellie Ng has written for Foreign Policy, the Daily Telegraph, Global Voices Online and others.