Tomorrow is the Chief Executive (CE) election. Just yesterday, Lo Man-tuen, a campaigner of Carrie Lam, attacked John Tsang in his article in Sing Tao Daily, saying Tsamg’s not “trusted” by Beijing. Lo said that Tsang ignored signals from Beijing telling him not to run for CE. He then goes on by calling him an agent of pan-democrats and being backed by the US. In response, Tsang says he was only surprised the attacks came so late.
The latest attack on Tsang shows the Lam camp’s desperation
Last minute personal attacks are always driven by desperation. As there’s only one day left, the attacks show the Lam camp’s nervousness. Clearly, Lo’s article is not meant for the general populace. It is meant to warn electors. Lo wants to reaffirm to pro-establishment electors that Lam is indeed Beijing’s choice. He wants to erase any doubt which may be raised by rumors that President Xi suggested that the electors may vote for Tsang.
Both Lam and Tsang satisfy Wang Guangya’s four criterion
Beijing has stated that there are four criterion for the CE: (1) love the country and love Hong Kong; (2) be trusted by the central government; (3) ability to govern; and (4) supported by the Hong Kong people. Wang Guangya has previously stated that all 3 candidates, namely Lam, Tsang and Woo Kwok-hing, satisfy all four criterion. State leaders have repeated publicly that they don’t have a “preferred” candidate.
For Beijing, which one wins won’t make a material difference
The CE election is seen as a battle between Lam and Tsang. Lam is painted as Beijing’s favourite. I believe the reality, however, is that both Lam and Tsang are acceptable to Beijing and as far as Hong Kong is concerned, they don’t care too much which of the two wins. Both Lam and Tsang have been in the administration for many years and both have a proven track record. In Beijing’s eyes, either winning won’t make a material difference.
Even if Lam was the “first” choice, she was not the “only” choice
When the “supposed” meeting took place in Shenzhen last December, Tsang had not yet declare his candidacy. Granted, Lam was indeed the “favourite” at that time, because there were no other “potential” candidates. In this context, one may call Lam Beijing’s “first” choice. But Lam is not Beijing’s “only” choice. Though, the biggest irony is that the Shenzhen “meeting” took place even before Lam declared her candidacy.
Pro-establishment electors to prove their “loyalty” by supporting Lam
Having said the above, why are the pro-establishment electors so keen on supporting Lam? The real reason is that they are more concerned about how Beijing perceives them than Beijing is actually concerned about whether Lam and Tsang wins. In other words, pro-establishment electors want to win political points from Beijing by showing unrelenting support for Lam as they believe that Lam is Beijing’s first choice.
The truth of our CE election is that our pro-establishment electors care more about the election than Beijing itself. This is because the electors are self-interest driven, and will use every opportunity to win favours from Beijing. The best way to prove their loyalty is to openly support who they think is Beijing’s preferred candidate and attack those who they think aren’t. But with this logic, they are only digging a hole for all of us to fall into by self-limiting Hong Kong’s long-term development.