Chief executive contender Carrie Lam said that she has no power to tell the China Liaison Office – Beijing’s organ in Hong Kong – not to ask electors to vote for her.

Some electors from both the pro-Beijing camp and the pro-democracy camp have received phone calls campaigning for Lam, including lawmakers Michael Tien of the New People’s Party and Felix Chung of the Liberal Party. Local media speculated that the calls were from the Liaison Office.

Lam said in a Now TV interview that it will be counterproductive if the public believed a “visible hand” was behind the election of a chief executive.

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Carrie Lam. File Photo: GovHK.

“If I know of such a thing, I will avoid giving people such a perception,” she said.

Asked if she will publicly ask the Liaison Office not to do so, she said: “There is no basis for me to do that.”

“I would tell electors such as Michael Tien and Felix Chung, if you receive such calls and feel uncomfortable, just don’t answer them,” she said. “Or you can say: Carrie has said she is working hard for the election herself – just let her work hard by herself.”

Lam claimed in the interview that someone was unable to nominate her because of political views, but was considering voting for her in the secret ballot on March 26.

“If in the next month or two, on some policy matters, I can propose solutions to issues in areas where they are discontented, maybe the person can support me,” she said.

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The China Liaison Office in Hong Kong. Photo: HKFP.

Lam did not answer directly if the person was from the pro-democracy camp, but mentioned sectors in which the camp has won most of the seats in the election committee.

“Some 300 votes in this election are in sectors I care very much about, such as education, social welfare, such as architectural and surveying, legal sectors I am familiar with,” she said. “I believe these elector friends have their political views and stances, but they have no reason not to care about the development of their industries and sectors.”

Lam also criticised rival John Tsang – without naming him – saying that he once hurt the relationship between the administration and the legislature, and that she was the person who resolved the conflict.

“A certain official was unwilling to answer four lawmakers’ questions at the Legislative Council, saying ‘the government is in a legal battle with you, why would I answer your questions?’ It was resolved by me,” she said.

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Tsang said at the time that he acted in accordance with legal advice given by the Department of Justice and the position previously expressed by Lam, who was then the chief secretary.

Lam said: “If we treasure the relationship between the administration and the legislature, then legal advice is one thing, but political judgement is another thing. [The Department of Justice] did not say that you cannot use your political judgment to consider its legal advice,” she said.

Lam will host an election rally on Friday afternoon, where she is expected to introduce some of her policy views.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.