Lam's score card gets election credit

Editorial | Mary Ma 20 Sep 2021

The administration rendered the final stroke to complete the Election Committee revamp yesterday with less than 5,000 electorates voting to choose a quarter of the 1,500 EC members who will select almost half of the lawmakers later this year and, more crucially, the next chief executive in 2022.

The rest of the EC members were already decided before the vote - either being uncontested, appointed or ex-officio.

That the new EC has been created incident-free and according to Beijing's plan should also bode well for Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor's reelection bid.

Yesterday's EC election was the first of the three major elections that Politburo standing committee member Han Zheng had mentioned during a meeting with Lam in Shenzhen the day before.

Contrary to the past, the leader met Lam ahead of the vote rather than afterward.

As expected, yesterday's turnout rate was due to the small number of eligible voters.

Although it was a risk-free poll for Beijing, the SAR government went the extra mile to remind the uncontested to show up publicly to grab any opportunities that may arise in order to give the media positive sound bites.

Now the EC has been created, the CE election is bound to be the next focus, despite the legislative election in December.

The electoral game seems to have changed in recent months. As Lam's potential rivals put up a low profile these days, the chief executive appears to be returning to the political center stage with an upbeat voice.

In front of the TV cameras, Han was full of praise for the Lam administration over matters ranging from the pandemic to economics and people's livelihood.

Even as Lam, as usual, avoided questions from the media yesterday on whether or not she is now more confident of reelection than anytime before, the spirited expression on her face revealed all.

It was claimed that Han had come to see the Hengqin special economic zone and took the opportunity to call Lam to go over to Shenzhen to see him.

Yet the presence of Hong Kong and Macau Affairs director Xia Baolong showed the southern trip had a meaning that was more than merely inspecting Hengqin.

Maybe the order was reversed.

Every time a major election has been held in Hong Kong, a Beijing leader always traveled to Shenzhen to oversee the exercise.

This EC election was important to Beijing - and the Han-Lam meeting on the eve of it was probably a message to the electorate that Beijing was not taking any chances.

The SAR was also clear about the associated political significance, hence the deployment of up to 6,000 police officers to protect five polling stations being used by a few thousand electorates.

The EC homework has been completed as demanded and that's a plus on Lam's report card.

If she could persuade the Democrats to run to enrich the Legco election in December to make it look more acceptable to the international community, that would be another positive mark for her.

Though nothing is absolute in politics, the local situation is currently unfolding in Lam's favor.

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