Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor may have bagged a first bundle of nominations for chief executive from the rural powerbroking Heung Yee Kuk as she and rival John Tsang Chun-wah were working hard yesterday to win over the SAR's movers and shakers.
Kuk chairman Kenneth Lau Yip- keung said the group was moving toward giving all its 27 nominations in the Election Committee to former chief secretary Lam.
But his claim was disputed by Kuk heavyweight and Election Committee member Bowie Hau Chi-keung. He said members decided only to bundle the 27 votes and that no final decision was made on the candidate who would be given them.
Lau, also a legislator representing the Kuk, said the group met on Monday and reached a consensus that all 27 votes would be bundled for a single chief executive candidate and members tended to support Lam.
Lam and the Heung Yee Kuk know each other well. Lam clashed with indigenous villagers on illegal construction work involving village houses in 2011 and 2012 when she was secretary for development, but Lau said such matters belonged to the past.
"Illegal construction is a hard problem for any official to solve," he said. "It has its historic background and innate difficulties. I believe her way to solve the illegal construction was suitable."
But he stressed that the Kuk needed to listen to the three other candidates for chief executive about their opinions on New Territories issues.
Lau's reading of the election situation was supported by Kuk vice chairman Cheung Hok-ming.
Cheung also revealed that he and Lau have been invited to join Lam's campaign team.
But Hau disputed the Lau-Cheung claims, professing unease at the speed that some election-related matters appeared to be moving.
"We just had a meeting, and today somebody comes out to talk about personal opinions," he said. "We should wait until after meeting all four candidates and not hurry to marry our daughter to one of them."
Hau also said the Kuk should wait on making a final decision on a candidate until "the order" of the central government is issued.
Lam and Tsang were yesterday also jockeying for Election Committee votes at the major business chambers. Lam met first with the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce, which has 18 votes in the commercial (first) subsector, and then the Chinese Manufacturers' Association, which has 18 votes in the industrial (second) subsector.
Tsang met with the CMA and the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce, which has 18 votes in the commercial (second) subsector.
Victor Li Tzar-kuoi, an Election Committee member and deputy chairman of CK Hutchison Holdings who was at the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce session, refused to say whether he would be nominating Lam.
Some of the Election Committee members in the subsector, including James Tien Pei-chun who has promised to nominate Tsang, did not attend the event.
Lam told the chamber's Election Committee members that she understood the difficulties that standard working hours and the abolition of the Mandatory Provident Fund's offsetting mechanism would bring to the business sector.
For his part, Tsang told the CMA that he would publicize his political platform soon. "With harmony, we may jointly promote the economy," he said. "If we don't stop the current internal conflict, both the government and society won't be able to take steps forward."
Eddy Li Sau-hung said the CMA would not bundle its vote for a single candidate and would only make recommendations after listening to all candidates.
"The central government hasn't contacted us yet," he added.
Candidate Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee also met with the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce. And she also said she understood the Kuk had not made a final decision to support Lam.