Hong Kong's former chief secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has made a last-ditch effort to win over public opinion ahead of Sunday's chief executive election, as rival John Tsang Chun-wah continues to widen his lead in popularity polls.
In a half-page advertisement in the South China Morning Post on Friday headlined "Setting Aside Differences to Connect for a Better Future", Lam said her determination to run for the top job was "more steadfast than ever".
"Other than the divisiveness in society, there is also a lot of pent-up frustration," the advertisement read.
"At this time, seeing that our society has been continuously pulling away in opposite directions and that conflicts persist among us, I believe it is critical and urgent that we set aside our differences and come together again for the city we love."
She said by resolving the simpler and less controversial issues first, mutual trust could be rebuilt.
"If elected, I will immediately act to unite our society by improving the relationship between the executive government and legislature," Lam vowed.
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She pledged to let children grow up happy and healthy; let the young generation apply their talents to the fullest; let Hongkongers continue to prosper; and let the elderly enjoy their golden years.
"We shall proactively communicate with the different political parties and groups in the Legislative Council to build consensus so that as soon as the new term of government begins, we would lose no time in prioritising the allocation of resources to address the pressing problems in the (education) sector."
She said Hong Kong is at a crossroads, with both challenges and opportunities ahead.
"We need a caring, capable and accountable (leader) who consults and works with the public to safeguard our core values, heal the rift in society and resolve the frustrations," she said.
Although Lam is believed to be Beijing's preferred choice, her popularity among Hongkongers is still trailing key rival, former financial secretary John Tsang.
The latest survey by Chinese University of Hong Kong commissioned by the Post showed Tsang had widened his lead over Lam to more than 17 percentage points.
Tsang was backed by 46.6 per cent of respondents aged 18 or above, up from 42.5 per cent in the previous survey last month. Meanwhile, 29.5 per cent preferred Lam, up marginally from 28.2 per cent.
The third candidate, retired judge Woo Kwok-hing, was backed by 10.1 per cent of respondents, up from 8.7 per cent last month.