Candidates Woo Kwok-hing and Carrie Lam look on as officials open ballot boxes. Photo: Reuters/Bobby Yip

Former top official Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor won the small-circle election with 777 votes from 1,194 election committee members, becoming Hong Kong’s first female leader on Sunday.

The former chief secretary for administration beat her former colleague financial secretary John Tsang Chun-wah and retired high court judge Woo Kwok-hing, who received 365 and 21 votes, respectively.

“The election result showed that Beijing…had insisted to continue its hardline stance on Hong Kong policy,” Alan Leong Kah-kit, pro-democracy Civic Party chairman and also a contestant in the election a decade ago, told the press. “Lam should try her best to regain trust from the public.”

Alan Leong Kah-kit, pro-democracy Civic Party chairman and also a contestant in the election a decade ago, speaks to the press. Photo: Asia Times/ Jeff Pao

Lam will be the first female leader to head the government in the Asian financial hub for the next five years starting from July 1, upon receiving appointment from the central government in Beijing.

This is the first election for the city’s leader after the 2014 Occupy Movement that demanded expanded democracy – one person, one vote – in electoral reforms, namely in the Legislative Council elections as well as the ballot for chief executive. Lam, who was the secretary in charge, failed to foster consensus in society, leading to final veto of the proposal.

Related: How Hong Kong’s next top leader gets chosen

“Previous surveys saying Carrie Lam has low popularity is not trustworthy,” said Lui Che-woo, a pro-Beijing Election Committee member and also chairman of Galaxy Entertainment Group. The almost 4 million registered voters in the city cannot vote in this election.

Hundreds of people have been rallying against the “small circle” election in the protest area at the Central Plaza in Wan Chai, near the election venue – the Convention and Exhibition Center.

Protestors rallying against the “ small-circle” election outside the election center. Photo: Asia Times/Jeff Pao

Apart from the dissenting voices, a group of supporters, flying both the China and Hong Kong flags had also voiced their backing for the poll.

Election supporters with Chinese and Hong Kong flags near a public area at Central Plaza, opposite the Convention and Exhibition Center. Photo: Asia Times/Jeff Pao

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