Hong Kong elects China-backed Carrie Lam as first female chief executive

On Jul 1, Lam will formally become head of the global financial hub in Hong Kong.

Carrie Lam elected as Hong Kong's first female Chief Executive
Carrie Lam waves after she won the election for Hong Kong's Chief Executive in Hong Kong, China March 26, 2017. Reuters

Former deputy leader Carrie Lam has been elected as Hong Kong's new Chief Executive by a 1,200-member election committee on Sunday becoming its first female leader. The 59-year-old leader won 777 votes from the 1,194-member Election Committee, composed mostly of Beijing loyalists. She beat former finance chief John Tsang Chun-wah (365 votes) and former judge Woo Kwok-hing (21 votes).

The election committee has elected Lam as the new chief includes representatives of a broad number of sectors, from business to education. However, only a quarter of those members is from the democracy camp.

Reports said that although Tsang had a high public popularity, but Lam was widely seen as the preferred candidate of Beijing. Tsang was said to have lacked the central government's full trust. Meanwhile, Woo was never seen as a possible contender for winning the race.

On Sunday morning, the election committee members cast their votes between 9am and 11am at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai. Most of the 326 pan-democrat members had given their support for Tsang.

There was heavy police protection outside the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre where voting took place. The protesters denounced Beijing's "interference" amid widespread reports of lobbying of the voters to back Lam, rather than the former finance chief, Tsang. The police were seen trying to push back protesters, while a group of demonstrators was trying to the police cordon.

Lam, who was dubbed as "the fighter" by media, was once the most popular official in the cabinet of a staunchly pro-Beijing incumbent chief executive, Leung Chun-ying. In 2012, Chun-ying won a similar election restricted to just 1,200 voters.

Lam attempted to present a softer, more populist image throughout her campaign. But, she was ridiculed in many cases. On Jul 1, Lam will formally become head of the global financial hub in Hong Kong.