Lam Woon-kwong's call for a review of the vetting process that led to the controversial decision to issue only two free-to-air TV licences was brushed aside yesterday by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and other members of his cabinet.
One Exco member said Lam, as Exco convenor, should refrain from uttering such criticism in public, while others said the decision to deny Hong Kong Television Network a licence did not go against public opinion.
Leung again maintained that procedural justice had been observed.
"Lam called for a review of the process, but not the decision," said Leung at a business community lunch. "We have complied with procedural justice."
While discussing the possibility of reviewing the decision-making process, he said: "It is a matter for the future as to whether we need a new system and a new set of procedures."
Exco member Chow Chung-kong said the licensing decision was correct.
"The deliberations have spanned across two administrations, with four consultancy reports done … [the decision] was correct, made after comprehensive considerations," said Chow. "Some members of the public have expressed discontent, but this does not mean the decision deviated from public opinion."
Another Exco member, lawmaker Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, revealed that in a regular lunch among non-official Exco members yesterday, one had asked Lam to share his opinions with other councillors in private first before going public.
"Lam also asked us to excuse him for embarrassing his Exco fellows," said Ip.
Although Lam earlier said there was a huge discrepancy between Exco's decision and public expectations, Exco colleague Cheung Chi-kong, a close Leung ally, said the public resentment stirred up by the TV saga was "all within Exco's expectation".
Separately, Lam clarified that his call for a review of the process that led to the decision to grant only two free-to-air TV licences was not an attempt to distance himself from Leung.
"Exco's justification [for granting only two licences] was indeed rejected by the majority of the community. I was also among the ones to be blamed by the public. It is impossible to draw a line [between Leung and me]," he told Cable TV yesterday.
Lam did not comment when asked whether he would resign or if there had been any disagreement between him and Leung.
"I have no conspiracy. I am only saying the obvious and have no intentions," he said.
Lam reiterated that, in his remarks on Sunday, he was talking about the institution, not Leung.
Chinese-language newspaper Ta Kung Pao joined the condemnation, asking in an editorial yesterday if Lam was incapable or shirking his responsibilities.
Video: CY Leung at Legco on the free-to-air ruling