Hong Kong has its first female chief executive.
But Carrie Lam — a former civil servant who held the city’s No. 2 position as Chief Secretary for Administration — comes to power over a divided city that is increasingly resistant to Beijing, which she is loyal to.
On Sunday, Lam was elected in by a committee selected from the city’s business and political establishment, not the people.
Opinion polls showed she won only 29.1 percent public approval compared with fellow candidate John Tsang, a former financial secretary who won 55.6 percent.
So when she won, people quickly jumped on her winning vote count of 777 to express their disdain.
“Seven” in Cantonese is a homonym for a crude slang term for an erect penis.
The post reads: “#IReallyCongraulateYou #EverybodyWillHaveSuchADickChief #777 #ForeverAPenis”
Even reporters at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, where the election was held, were heard laughing at the number:
Reporters at scene laughed at Carrie Lam’s 777 votes
“God’s Will,” one said.
— Kris Cheng (@krislc) March 26, 2017
Lam’s predecessor, Leung Chun-ying, was nicknamed “689” after the number of votes he got in the Electoral Committee.
Hong Kong’s citizens are wary of Lam, largely because she’s seen as Beijing’s top pick.
After 156 years of British rule, Hong Kongers are accustomed to significantly more civil freedoms than the communist Chinese government has hinted toward. While China has promised that Hong Kong will be ruled separately from the mainland, it’s already cracked down on human rights activists in Hong Kong, showing it’s keen on tightening control.
Back in 2014, Beijing decided that it wanted to screen candidates. Protesters saw this as a reversal of its earlier promise to accord Hong Kong some form of self-rule.
This triggered the 79-day Occupy Central sit-in protests that shut down much of the city centre.
A day after Lam’s election, nine pro-democracy leaders of the Occupy Central protests received calls from the police saying that they will be charged with public nuisance, according to the Hong Kong Free Press.
If convicted, the leaders stand to face seven years in jail.
Joshua Wong, one of the key leaders in the Occupy Central protests, warned of “large scale political persecution” after Lam’s election.
HK Police starts to arrest activists of the Umbrella Movement in 2014 THE NEXT DAY Carrie Lam were selected as the Chief Executive.
— Joshua Wong Chi-fung (@joshuawongcf) March 27, 2017
Lam denied knowledge of a crackdown, but said that “the rule of law” should still be upheld.
She will be expected to take her oath of office on Jul. 1, the 20th anniversary of the city’s handover from British rule to Chinese.