A small electoral college voted for former senior official Carrie Lam to be Hong Kong’s next leader on Sunday. This decision was made amid accusations that Beijing is meddling and denying the Chinese-ruled financial hub a more populist leader, perhaps better suited to defuse political tension.
The majority of the city's 7.3 million people have no say in deciding their next leader, with the winner chosen by a 1,200-person "election committee", stacked with pro-Beijing and pro-establishment loyalists.
Lam, the committee’s favourite, beat two other candidates: former official John Tsang and retired judge, Woo Kwok-hing.
Beijing-backed Candidate Wins
Carrie Lam, who won an election to become Hong Kong's first female chief executive on Sunday, is a former student activist who climbed the rungs of the civil service over 36 years, and is a tough, capable and possibly divisive Beijing-backed leader.
Protesters and activists denounced Beijing's "interference" amid widespread reports of lobbying of the voters to back Lam, rather than the people’s choice, former finance chief, Tsang.
“Lies, coercion, whitewash,” read one protest banner. Some democracy activists hung a yellow banner from a peak called Lion Rock, overlooking the city, with the slogan, “I want universal suffrage”.
Beijing-run HK newspaper gives Beijing's chosen 'election' winner Carrie Lam glowing front-page, lavish quadruple-page spread treatment. pic.twitter.com/NvQgQtZiTu— HK Hemlock (@HKBigLychee) March 25, 2017
‘A Tilted Bridge’
Several sources who have worked with Lam say she is intelligent, hard-working and able to push controversial government policies, earning her the trust of Beijing factions who strongly lobbied for votes on her behalf.
But her hardline and pro-Beijing tendencies, say critics and opposition democrats, risk sowing further social divisions in the former British colony that returned to China 20 years ago, under a "one country, two systems" formula that guarantees it wide-ranging freedoms.
Joshua Wong, Leader of student-led “Umbrella Movement”Theoretically, the chief executive is a bridge between the central government and the people of Hong Kong. But Lam will be a tilted bridge. She will only tell us what Beijing wants, and won’t reflect what the people want from the communist regime.
Many fear that Lam will continue the tough policies of staunchly pro-Beijing incumbent Leung Chun-ying, a divisive figure who ordered the firing of tear gas on pro-democracy protesters in 2014, and who was not seen to be defending Hong Kong's autonomy and core values.