Chief Executive Carrie Lam has defend her choices of new officials, after four undersecretaries and political assistants appointed on Tuesday turned out to be defeated pro-Beijing election candidates.

Education Undersecretary Choi Yuk-lin ran against Ip Kin-yuen for the education sector seat in last September’s Legislative Council elections, but lost out to the pro-democracy candidate. She gained 18,158 votes, whilst Ip won with 45,984 votes.

Carrie Lam. screenshot.

Lam said it was not “logical” to say Choi was not supported by the education sector despite losing the election.

“There are, of course, winners and losers in elections. I experienced it too – I won, but I respect the two losers very much. On March 26, the first thing I did after winning the election was to thank the two other candidates, who made the election more rich and more meaningful,” she said. “I don’t understand why losers in elections would not have the responsibility and passion to serve the education sector.”

“This is the tolerance Hong Kong wants to see. An election loser should not be suppressed because of one election loss.”

No nomination from democrats

Lam said her selection of officials was based on their ability, and not their political stance. She had asked political parties to submit nominees to her.

“In fact, I did not receive any nominations from pan-democrats,” she said. “You may want to ask why our pan-democrat friends were not willing to nominate their members to the government.”

Kevin Yeung and Choi Yuk-lin.

“But, of course, there is a bottom line. He or she needs to support the government’s work, needs to love the country and Hong Kong, [and] needs to uphold the Basic Law, before we can work together. So I am not biased against certain parties.”

She said Choi’s nomination originated from Education Secretary Kevin Yeung: “We did not have a list of people [forced upon us].”

‘Very good young man’

Undersecretary for Financial Services and the Treasury Joseph Chan lost in the Commercial (First) sector seat of the last Legislative Council elections to incumbent Jeffrey Lam.

“I did not hear any [negative] opinions on Joseph from Jeffrey Lam. Privately he even said this young man was very good, you have picked the right person,” Carrie Lam said.

Chan, of the Liberal Party, won a District Council seat in the Peak constituency in 2015. He will resign from the position and trigger a by-election.

Joseph Chan (left) and Jeffrey Lam (right). File

‘No-one knows her’

Political assistant to the Secretary for Innovation and Technology Lillian Cheong lost in the 2015 District Council election in the Hennessy constituency.

She ran as an independent candidate, but was supported by pro-Beijing heavyweights Rita Fan and Peggy Lam. She received 760 votes and the winner, independent candidate Cheng Ki-kin, obtained 1,590 votes.

Before her appointment, Cheong was an assistant to an executive director at property giant New World Development.

Lillian Cheong said she was supported by pro-Beijing heavyweights Rita Fan and Peggy Lam in 2015 election. Photo: GovHK.

Francis Fong, honorary chairman of the Hong Kong Information Technology Federation, commented on social media: “No-one knows her.”

He questioned whether the new appointee had inadequate knowledge of the industry, since the industry had no knowledge of her: “It would be paying her to learn things, it just feels strange,” he said.

Mark Fu. Photo: YouTube/Commercial Radio screenshot.

Political assistant to the Secretary for Transport and Housing Mark Fu also lost in a 2013 District Council by-election in the King’s Park constituency.

Fu, of the Liberal Party at the time, received 268 votes, but pro-democracy candidate Lam Kin-man beat him with 1,515 votes.

Fu, however, has been active on the issue of transport as he said he had worked in the industry for several years. He often writes commentaries and appears at public events.

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.