The wolf closes in on the pig in HK race

It’s already midday Friday in Hong Kong, and so we’re nearly through the last business day prior to the election for Hong Kong’s third chief executive.

As the weekend approaches, there are signs that upstart candidate and poll favorite Leung Chun-ying may be outpacing former favorite, the scandal-plagued Henry Tang.

There were previous signs that the PRC leadership had begun to move towards Leung — both Leung and Tang are pro-Beijing — but those signs have apparently become unmistakable in the leadup to Sunday’s vote:

Liu Yandong, a member of China’s decision-making Politburo with key responsibility over Hong Kong, visited the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen this week to lobby election committee members for Leung, according to media reports.

“It is definitely a fact that the China Liaison Office is canvassing and pulling votes for C.Y. Leung,” said a member of the election committee. A media relations officer at the office denied it was backing one candidate over another.

Meanwhile, although it is clear that much of Hong Kong’s development and real estate aristocracy remain in favor of Tang, making it a certainty that the race will not be a runaway victory for either candidate, other blocs that comprise the 1200-member Elections Committee have begun to show their hands — largely in favor of Leung:

Leung, now widely seen as Beijing’s preferred choice, is apparently still short of the 601 minimum votes needed for an outright win, after securing only 510 to 590 votes by late yesterday – many at the expense of chief rival Henry Tang Ying-yen – according to the latest count by theSouth China Morning Post…. The number of votes pledged to Leung could rise by Sunday if members in subsectors like engineering and accounting, many of whom have yet to make their intentions public, back Leung, the former Executive Council convenor, who last month had 305 votes pledged.

Furthermore, a bundle of 60 votes comprised of representatives from the Federation of Trade Unions will be pledged to Leung, it was announced Friday. That alone represents 10% of the votes Leung will need to win an outright victory — one candidate much achieve a full majority of the Elections Committee in order to avoid a new vote in May.

It appears that votes from the Hong Kong Federation of Education Workers and the New Century Forum will also be pledged to Leung as well.

Although Tam Yiu-chung, chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, denied earlier this week that its group had chosen Leung, it appears that the group, which controls 147 votes, might announce an endorsement today as well — also likely in favor of Leung.

Leung, styled as a “wolf” in the Hong Kong press for his cunning, has long been the favorite of the Hong Kong populace, well outpacing Tang, styled as a “pig” for his image as somewhat plodding and ignorant.  Pro-democracy candidate Albert Ho, the third candidate, is expected to fall far short of both rivals.

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Meanwhile, in a springtime of many scandals, legislators today blocked a full investigation of potential corruption from current chief executive Donald Tsang, who is accused of receiving free use of luxury jets, yachts and a sweetheart deal for property in Shenzhen.

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