The sole contender in Hong Kong’s small-circle chief executive race, John Lee, was selected by 1,416 pro-establishment voters on Sunday, which also happened to be Mother’s Day and Buddha’s Birthday, a public holiday.

As votes were cast on Sunday morning, a dim sum restaurant in Mong Kok was packed with families, some taking advantage of the recently relaxed Covid-19 social distancing measures allowing up to eight diners per table.

The 2022 small-circle chief executive election was held on Mother’s Day. Mrs Kwok (right) said she has not been following the news much, even though she was able to name the next leader of Hong Kong. Photo: Lea Mok/HKFP

When asked by HKFP what day it was, most people answered Mother’s Day and Buddha’s Birthday. Pushed for other answers, some gave up guessing. “I can’t think of another answer,” one said.

HKFP asked two groups if they knew who the sole chief executive hopeful was. “What’s his name again?” some family members asked, seeking help from relatives.

“Lee Ka-chiu, right?”

“Oh yes, Lee Ka-chiu,” they answered.

A dim sum restaurant in Mong Kok on Mother’s Day. Photo: Lea Mok/HKFP.

Mrs Kwok, one of the mothers out celebrating with her family, told HKFP that she had not really been following the race. “It’s going to be an one-horse race anyway. The result has been ‘decided’ [before the election],” she told HKFP.

“The candidate’s appointment comes from ‘above’ [Beijing],” Mrs Kwok’s husband added.

Chief Executive-elect John Lee (centre). Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

Mrs Kwok said she would still keep an eye on the result, as she was curious whether Lee could get more than 777 votes, the number that current Chief Executive Carrie Lam received in the 2017 leadership race.

The Kwok family celebrates Mother’s Day as the limit on diners per table raised to eight. Photo: Lea Mok/HKFP.

Mrs Kwok described this year’s race as a “monodrama,” as no one was competing with Lee for the top job. She said she thought Lee had not interacted with the public, too.

She also said she might not have voted for Lee if she was able to vote, as his manifesto was mostly inherited from Lam’s.

Mrs Kwok said she anticipated an overwhelming exodus after Lee enacted Article 23, Hong Kong’s own security law, yet she said she had not plans to emigrate, yet. “But there are possibilities. We’ll see,” she said.

Mrs Wong prepared flowers for her mother. Photo: Lea Mok/HKFP

Mrs Wong, who was also celebrating Mother’s Day with her family, agreed that this year’s leadership race was not as captivating as previous ones, as there was only one contender.

As votes were cast on Sunday morning, a dim sum restaurant in Mong Kok was busy with families celebrating Mother’s Day. Photo: Lea Mok/HKFP

“I hope the new leader of Hong Kong can bring us out of this plight,” Mrs Wong told HKFP, adding that the city was at a low point, with the pandemic having dealt severe blows to the livelihoods of Hong Kong people. “I’ve never seen Hong Kong this bad,” she said.

Covid curbs loosen for Mother’s Day

On Tuesday, Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced that the limit on the number of diners per table would be raised to eight people from Thursday. Lam said residents were the “point of consideration,” not business owners.

“Mother’s Day is coming up, and this year after Mother’s Day there is the make-up holiday for Buddha’s Birthday,” Lam said. “We hope everyone has an enjoyable Mother’s Day, and that one table can sit eight people spanning three generations from the grandmother to the mother to the niece or nephew.”

The vice manager of the Chinese teahouse. Photo: Lea Mok/HKFP

The vice manager of the dim sum restaurant said they saw a 5 to 10 per cent increase in customers this year, compared to last Mother’s Day. Patrons started waiting outside the restaurant at 8:00 a.m. on Sunday, and some said they waited for up to half an hour for a table.

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Lea Mok

Lea Mok is a multimedia reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously contributed to The Initium, StandNews, MingPao and others. She holds a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the Chinese University of Hong Kong.