Former pro-democracy student activists were seen on Carrie Lam’s team as she was chosen as the chief executive-elect on Sunday, sparking controversy among their former allies.

Marco Li Chun-lam, a former member of the now-defunct student group Scholarism, appeared in a photo of Carrie Lam’s private celebration event, which only around 60 people attended. Lam was seen as Beijing’s favourite candidate and won by 777 votes out of 1,194.

Joshua Wong Chi-fung, the former convener of the group, spotted the photo published by Apple Daily and said in a widely shared Facebook post: “The face of someone who gives up on their principles is very horrifying indeed. I often remind myself not to turn into someone I would have hated.”

Marco Li (circled).

Li was a participant in the 2012 anti-patriotic education protests at the government headquarters. He was interviewed by several media outlets at the time. But Li was the only Scholarism member expelled by the group, according to a Next Magazine report in March.

Li ran as the president of the Education University student union earlier this year but he decided to quit the race because he has to “leave Hong Kong long term due to personal reasons,” according to an internal email to the school obtained by HKFP.

Li told HKFP in a phone interview on February 7 that he pulled out of the race because he often has to fly between Hong Kong and Taiwan for his social media business. He denied that he was helping Lam at the time.

Li was one of the organisers of a policy-making competition in 2016 hosted by a group called GeNext. Some members of the group later joined Lam’s campaign team.

Billy Fung (right) and Scholarism’s Agnes Chow (left) and Marco Li (centre) in 2012. Photo: Facebook/Scholarism.

Commenting on Joshua Wong’s Facebook post on Sunday, student activists were surprised that Li was part of her team.

Former University of Hong Kong student leader Billy Fung Jing-en said: “I could not have guessed it,” as another commentator posted a recent photo of Fung and Li together.

Former Scholarism member Derek Lam Shun-hin, who is part of Wong’s Demosisto party, said: “I remember that Marco – you said you will work hard to advocate Hong Kong independence, and that it’s your dream that the Chinese Communist Party will be crushed.”

Student union campaigns

Meanwhile, former City University of Hong Kong student “Bon Bon” Chow Ting-pong was standing behind Lam on Sunday as she was giving her acceptance speech.

Chow was the president of a proposed student union cabinet which promoted localist values in its manifesto in 2015.

Chow Ting-pong (circled).

“CityU students have a persistence for democracy. The spirit is deeply rooted in CityU’s culture. In recent years, Hong Kong’s rule of law and freedom of expression are being undermined,” Chow wrote at the time.

“The indigenous sense of belonging as a Hong Konger has also been challenged. I do hope to fight for the greatest hopes and passion of Hong Kongers and CityU students.”

However, the cabinet soon decided to pull out of the race, saying in a statement that its 16 localist members had “serious differences” in opinion.

Chow Ting-pong. Photo: Screenshot.

Student activist Kaiser Wong Ka-chun, a former Scholarism member, posted the manifesto on social media alongside a screenshot of Chow standing behind Lam.

“At the beginning you claimed you were a localist… that you hoped to recover City University, which was lost – you asked for a lot of favours from people to help you – but now I understand you were always an opportunist,” he wrote.

Alan Kwok Tung-wong, a member of Chow’s proposed cabinet, also appeared in the photo of Lam’s private celebration event.

Carrie Lam (centre) and Yim Chak-hong (back row left). Photo: GovHK.

Another former student activist Yim Chak-hong was also standing behind Lam.

Yim ran for the presidency of the Hang Seng Management College student union in 2015 but lost.

He was a protester during the pro-democracy occupy protests in 2014, according to sources cited by Apple Daily.

Kris Cheng

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.