Hong Kong citizens seize social media to mock new leader over her 777 votes
Behind-the-scenes backing from China helped Lam win a resounding victory among the 1,194 business and political elites who pick the city’s chief executive, and dispatched an opponent more popular with the general public. But her vote total — 777 — was immediately seized upon as a nickname to deride the election process. In Cantonese, “seven” sounds like an expletive sometimes used to refer to an impotent person.
Within minutes of the result, the Asian financial hub’s freewheeling social media scene lit up with lewd jokes and memes at Lam’s expense. Her unpopular former boss, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, had been mocked as “689” for his own low vote total before ultimately deciding not to seek a second term. The reaction showed Lam would get no honeymoon before facing the same opposition.
“All politicians might be made fun of and that is quite common, but people doing it on Day Zero is a very strong indication of what an uphill battle it’s going to be for her,” said Alvin Yeung, an opposition lawmaker who voted in the election. “It’s going to be up to her to regain Hong Kong people’s trust.”
The election became the latest flash point over Beijing’s perceived encroachment on the “one country, two systems” framework that guarantees independent courts, a free press and a capitalist financial system in the former British colony. While Lam regularly received high approval ratings during five years as Hong Kong’s No. 2 official, opinions of her soured amid media reports of China’s efforts to sway the vote in her favor.
‘Heal the Divide’
In her victory speech, the city’s first female leader signaled a change from Leung’s take-it-or-leave-it approach, which pro-democracy advocates have blamed for inflaming tensions and fueling a new pro-independence movement. She promised to solicit a “spectrum of voices,” especially among young people, and increase communication through social media such as Facebook.
“My priority will be to heal the divide and to ease the frustration — and to unite our society to move forward,” said Lam, 59. “It is through real work and actual results that I will respond to those who support me, and garner the recognition of those yet to support me.”
During the campaign, Lam pledged to rein in home prices, modify the city’s tax code and bolster an economy vulnerable to China’s slowdown and U.S. interest-rate increases. Her plan to boost spending will be aided by a projected budget surplus of HK$92.8 billion ($11.9 billion) for the current fiscal year.