Franklin Lam Fan-keung

Franklin Lam Fan-keung silent on flats scandal

Latest casualty of C.Y. Leung's administration offers calm words about mainland influx instead

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 04 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 04 August, 2013, 3:56am

Franklin Lam Fan-keung had nothing to say about the controversy that last week led him to quit the Executive Council when he made his first public appearance statement since resigning.

Instead, he told Hongkongers not to fear an influx of mainlanders, because Hong Kong has always been an "immigrant city".

"Many people share a xenophobic sentiment and think that our local culture will be weakened," said Lam in the pre-recorded interview. "I'm not afraid that because of an increasing number of incoming mainlanders, our city will become another [mainland-style] Chinese city."

Lam said more than 800,000 mainlanders had moved to Hong Kong in the past decade, but local values had not changed. Instead, many mainlanders had changed by adopting Hong Kong values and taking them back to the mainland.

He said the city needed to improve its capacity to welcome more visitors without fuelling inflation, as had happened in recent years. "We didn't handle the opportunity well, so it developed into inflation affecting seven million people," Lam said.

He described the situation as the worst social injustice, because inflation had taken a big bite out of people's savings.

"The worst-affected people are the retirees, who lost one quarter or one third of their pensions in just a few years because of inflation, and then had to go onto the streets to pick up cardboard to resell," he said. "It's the most unfair thing."

Lam had taken a nine-month leave of absence from the chief executive's cabinet while the Independent Commission Against Corruption investigated claims he had profited from insider information by selling two flats before the government introduced additional stamp duties in October.

Lam resigned hours after the Department of Justice said it had insufficient evidence to prosecute him.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said he accepted his resignation with regret.

Lam was the second Exco member to step down since Leung took office 13 months ago.

Barry Cheung Chun-yuen quit in May after being investigated by police over his failed Hong Kong Mercantile Exchange.