By China Post news staff and agencies
HONG KONG — Carrie Lam (pictured holding bouquet in center of photo), the candidate favored by China’s Communist leadership was chosen as Hong Kong’s first-ever female leader on Sunday, in the first such vote since huge pro-democracy protests erupted over the semiautonomous Chinese city’s election system in 2014.
A committee dominated by pro-Beijing elites selected Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s former No. 2 official, as the financial hub’s chief executive even though she was far less popular than her main rival. Lam received 67 percent of the votes cast by the 1,194-member committee.
Her victory was hardly a surprise. China’s leaders had lobbied heavily behind the scenes for the 59-year-old Lam, who will become Hong Kong’s first female leader and its fourth since British colonial control ended in 1997. After the votes were counted, she bowed to the crowd and shook hands with the second-place finisher, former Finance Secretary John Tsang.
Some pro-democracy supporters in the official seating area yelled slogans and held up a yellow umbrella, the symbol of the 2014 protests, as the results were announced. The elite election committee was at the root of the protests, with activists decrying the lack of a direct choice by Hong Kong’s 3.8 million registered voters.
Democracy supporters called Sunday’s vote a “fake election” and blasted Beijing for meddling in Hong Kong’s affairs.
Political party Demosisto, founded by the young pro-democracy protest leader Joshua Wong, said in a Facebook post that “this result is a nightmare to Hong Kongers.” It said it would organize “a large civil disobedience protest” when Lam is sworn in on July 1.
Lam, a lifelong civil servant, has a reputation as an efficient and pragmatic administrator, but is unpopular with Hong Kongers because she’s seen as a proxy for Beijing and out of touch with ordinary people. Tsang, in contrast, is highly popular because of his easygoing persona and deft use of social media. He was nicknamed “Pringles” or “Uncle Chips” in Cantonese for his signature mustache that drew comparisons to the snack food mascot.
Lam received 777 of the 1,163 validly cast votes. Tsang got 365 votes, or 31 percent, while the third candidate, retired judge Woo Kwok-hing, had 21 votes.