Prominent supporters of chief executive candidate Henry Tang Ying-yen appear to be backing away from him amid reports that Chinese Communist Party politburo member Liu Yandong is meeting Election Committee members in Shenzhen to canvass support for Leung Chun-ying.
Liu is the only woman in the 25-member politburo and is the highest- ranking female in the mainland. She reportedly has strong ties to President Hu Jintao.
The place where the action was apparently under way yesterday has a name that translates as Bauhinia Resort - something of a coincidence bearing in mind the bloom's place in the SAR's official insignia.
But just what was happening there was unclear as the resort is not supposed to be open until next Monday, though police were patrolling the area yesterday. At least two cars belonging to the central government liaison office were seen entering the resort yesterday.
So was one belonging to National People's Congress delegate and Election Committee member Bernard Charnwut Chan.
And many other cars with mainland plates and cross-border plates entered the resort.
Word last night was that Wharf Holdings chairman Peter Woo Kwong- ching was staying in a resort in Shenzhen's Nanshan district with Liu and other mainland officials.
A company car was seen entering the resort on Monday.
Woo had sought to nominate Tang, but he was disqualified for getting his identity card number wrong. A Wharf spokeswoman said she did not have Woo's schedule and did not know if he was in Shenzhen.
Meanwhile, another Tang supporter, Liberal Party heavyweight James Tien Pei-chun, said officials from the liaison office were advising some Election Committee members to vote for Leung in Sunday's election.
A source had earlier told The Standard that about 150 nominations Leung secured were the work of the liaison office. "Many people" from the liaison office were working to persuade Election Committee members to vote for Leung, he said, though they were not high-level officials.
Tien said no one had contacted him, but he did claim that members of Leung's election team were urging Tang supporters to change their minds.
He also reckoned that Leung has a better than 50 percent chance of winning.
And Heung Yee Kuk chairman Lau Wong-fat, who also nominated Tang, said members of his organization need not fear a Leung win.
He also said people should not be against Leung in light of recent allegations of wrongdoing since he has promised to be a chief executive who can face the seven million people in Hong Kong. Lau said he would be pleased if the liaison office invited him for a meeting, though the kuk is about to meet in any event to discuss who to vote for.
New People's Party chairwoman Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee said no one from the liaison office has approached her party, which will make its own decision during a meeting on Saturday.
Lawmaker Ip Kwok-him of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong said he has not heard about liaison office officials canvassing support for Leung.
He added his party will make its voting decision on Friday.