By Claire Zillman
March 27, 2017

Hong Kong made history yesterday by electing Carrie Lam as the city’s first-ever female chief executive. She received 777 votes from the 1,194-person electoral college made up of lawmakers, businesspeople, and professionals.

The mood in the city, however, was not entirely celebratory. News of Lam’s victory was greeted with some cheers, but also with boos and laughter.

Some citizens are displeased with the outcome due to Beijing’s not-so-secret sway in the election. The Chinese government reportedly lobbied on Lam’s behalf in the lead-up to the vote because they saw Lam, the No. 2 in the previous administration, as someone who would loyally enact their will. In her previous role, Lam met with the so-called Umbrella Movement, whose members took to the streets in 2014 to protest the elitist nature of the city’s electoral system. She dismissed their grievances, telling them that their proposed alternative wasn’t feasible. “Hong Kong is not an independent entity…and cannot decide on its own its political development,” she said. Two weeks later, she told those in the streets they’d be arrested if they did not leave.

The chuckles on Sunday came as Lam’s vote tally was read aloud: 777. In Cantonese, “seven” sounds like an expletive sometimes used to refer to an impotent person. Lam’s opponents are already using the number as a nickname for the newly-minted leader—an attempt to undermine her authority and the process that catapulted her into office.

Moments after claiming victory, Lam was asked about her vote total. She said she didn’t know whether the “777” moniker would stick. “Nicknames are what other people come up with,” she said. “I’m very honored and very happy to get these votes.”

 

@clairezillman

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