Chief executive contender Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has said that she would “keep trying” to heal divisions in Hong Kong society, following an election rally on Friday afternoon.

At a press conference, she said that her efforts would take time, sincerity, patience and care. “My new style of governance, new role of government and new fiscal philosophy might also help to alleviate societal divisions and dissatisfaction,” she added.

Carrie Lam and her son. Photo: HKFP/Kris Cheng

At her campaign launch, Lam pledged to strengthen the development of land and construction of housing, to diversify Hong Kong’s economy, and to conduct a full-scale review of the city’s education system.

But when one reporter claimed that no pro-democracy legislators or electors had attended her rally earlier in the afternoon, Lam said: “I’ll keep trying.”

She later elaborated that she would keep trying to meet with pro-democracy electors, especially those in professional sectors. She added that she was very familiar with fields such as social welfare, engineering, as well as architecture and surveying.

“I’m sure these electors are not only concerned about political issues, but also the development of their professions,” she said.

Carrie Lam at her election rally. Photo: HKFP/Kris Cheng.

Of the 1,200 Election Committee members eligible to vote for the next chief executive, only around 300 are considered pro-democracy.

Lam claimed that she did not know how many members would nominate her as a candidate, but she has already held meetings with electors from nine or ten sectors.

Her advisory team includes heavyweights such as Chinese National People’s Congress member Rita Fan Tsui Lai-tai, real estate tycoon Lee Shau-kee, and Malaysian-Chinese “sugar king” Robert Kuok Hock-nien.

Defection

Lam also said she was not at all disappointed or sad that her former colleague and “protégé” Mak Chai-kwong is campaigning for rival candidate John Tsang Chun-wah.

Mak succeeded Lam as the secretary for development in 2012, when the latter was appointed chief secretary by incumbent Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.

“Mak and I are friends today, and in the future,” she said. “I called to wish him a happy Lunar New Year, and learnt that he had promised earlier to help Mr Tsang.”

Carrie Lam at her election rally. Photo: HKFP/Kris Cheng.

Online media ban

Lam, however, did not answer directly as to whether online media would continue to be invited to her press conferences – as chief executive – if she were to be elected. She told localist online outlet Passion Times that her “new style of governance” would be more open, transparent and welcoming, and she would consider the proposal.

Currently, online outlets such as HKFP are barred from attending government press conferences obtaining press releases.

Aside from Lam and Tsang, ex-judge Woo Kwok-hing and lawmaker Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee are also candidates for the small-circle chief executive election, which takes place on March 26.

Elson Tong

Elson Tong is a graduate of international relations and former investigations consultant. He has also written for Stand News.