Carrie Lam

Chief Secretary Carrie Lam recalls her 'roller coaster' first month in office

Chief secretary, known for being tough, admits having doubts about job due to controversies

PUBLISHED : Monday, 03 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 03 September, 2012, 4:20am

Ever ready to enact unpopular government policies and confront her detractors in public, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has long given the impression that she won't shy away from a fight if necessary.

But even she gets the blues at times - the chief secretary admitted yesterday to having a hard, even panicky, first month in office.

That, however, is behind her and she is now working "very happily" with Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and is confident about her work.

Soon after Lam took office in July, the government was embroiled in controversies. They involved the arrest of former development secretary Mak Chai-kwong and his resignation for his alleged abuse of government housing allowances, as well as the uproar over unauthorised structures at Leung's home on The Peak.

And when a century-old banyan tree hurt five people when it fell on Park Lane Shoppers' Boulevard in Tsim Sha Tsui in July, Lam rushed to visit.

Reflecting on the experience, Lam said: "When the first month came to an end, I said to my friends, 'Now I know what it means to pass a day as if it feels like a year' … my emotions were fluctuating a lot. I was scared to see my tenure start like this and had doubts over what lay ahead."

But Lam said that by the second month on the job she felt more in control and was "full of confidence".

She dismissed doubts that it was hard for her to work with Leung because they are both "strong leaders".

"We are not 'strong', we both love to work, but not to the extent that we compete at work … these two months have been very happy because he gave me a lot of space," Lam said.

In the past few days, the government declared a series of initiatives, including measures to boost housing supply and a new Tin Shui Wai market offering 200 stalls at low rents.

The news came amid mounting protests against the roll-out of the national education curriculum. Critics have accused the administration of trying to use the housing plan to divert attention from the education issue.

"Those criticisms really surprised me," Lam said. "We would never consider things like grabbing newspaper headlines."