The city’s sole leadership candidate John Lee will organise a campaign rally on Friday at Wan Chai’s Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, though members of the public are not invited.

Among those invited are the 1,462 Election Committee members who have a vote on Sunday, as well as Lee’s “chairperson group” and “consultant team,” which include tycoon Li Ka-shing and former chief executive candidate Henry Tang, according to Lee’s campaign manager Tam Yiu-chung.

john lee chief executive manifesto
Chief executive candidate John Lee. File photo: Lea Mok/HKFP.

Tam said on Sunday that the team will ensure the event, expected to attract 1,500 people, will adhere to the city’s Covid-19 social distancing rules.

“…[T]he biggest problem is that we have the [Covid-19] pandemic, such that we have to consider how not to impact the pandemic when doing a lot of things, and how not to violate anti-epidemic rules,” said Tam.

Lee himself announced in April that candidates will be exempt from public gathering rules and may conduct indoor election-related gatherings. Electors need not use the LeaveHomeSafe contact tracing app when voting.

When asked by reporters why Lee chose to hold a rally instead of meeting members of the public on the streets, Tam said that Friday’s event would allow Lee “to meet more people.”

“Actually the gathering is good, as [we] can meet more people, including Election Committee members and non-members, compared to going to a random district, the impact…is many times greater,” said Tam.

Press freedom is like an ID card

Lee took part in a question and answer session jointly organised by seven media outlets on Saturday. No members of the public were allowed to attend the session.

When asked how he would make people believe that press freedom is protected in Hong Kong, and if he will strengthen communication with each media organisation, Lee compared press freedom to identity cards, and said that “Hong Kong already has press freedom.”

“Press freedom already exists in Hong Kong, and it’s owned by all Hong Kong people. It’s like our identification documents, it’s inside our pockets,” said Lee. “However, we have to be careful that some people will use journalism as a jacket to do things that are illegal or with a political purpose.”

“Of course I respect journalists, and thank them for their work, because transparency can only exist if there is journalism, which makes the government perform better,” said Lee, adding that he had put effort into establishing communication with “media friends” and will continue to do so if he was elected.

Connecting with youth

The 64-year-old Lee was also asked how he would mend relations with young people, and how he would respond to their requests for universal values such as democracy and justice.

student human chain extradition protest
Hong Kong secondary students form a human chain in opposition to the extradition bill in September 2019. Photo: Studio Incendo.

The former chief secretary said “Hong Kong values democracy, freedom and justice,” and that the city was “a society with the rule of law.”

“It is normal to have disagreements on matters within society, it happens every day…when we have disagreements, I think the most important thing is to obey the law when expressing our views…” said Lee. “Disagreements exist but can be solved, there is no need to use illegal means… to solve our disagreements.”

Lee was also asked about launching universal suffrage during his administration, but he responded saying that “political reform will not be a priority of the sixth term of the government.”

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Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.