Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor warns Hongkongers not to provoke Beijing

Chief secretary says 'extreme' acts such as the PLA barracks protest will only hinder Hong Kong's ongoing political reform efforts

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 05 January, 2014, 5:20am
UPDATED : Sunday, 05 January, 2014, 10:05am

Any provocative moves to annoy Beijing will only hinder Hong Kong's political reform push, the chief secretary warned yesterday.

Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor made the remarks in response to a break-in at the People's Liberation Army barracks in Admiralty last month by activists.

The Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office earlier expressed "grave concern" over the incident, saying the group of activists had disregarded the law when they forced their way into the barracks on December 26, and should be punished.

"These rather extreme and almost provocative acts are undesirable for our work on political reform," Lam told Commercial Radio's Saturday Forum yesterday. "Someone even uploaded a video [of the break-in] to the internet just after it happened; that just stirs up resentment."

She added that the PLA had adhered to the Basic Law in carrying out its duties, and any political debate in the city was nothing to do with the military.

"This sort of provocative move will only result in needless conflict in our community," Lam said.

Reiterating the importance of trust if a consensus was to be reached on electoral reform, Lam called on radicals not to carry out acts that were likely to irritate the central leadership and hinder the city's relationship with Beijing.

Hours after Lam's remarks, activist Lui Yuk-lin protested outside the Central PLA barracks. Police asked her to leave and the army closed the gate to the barracks for a while.

Four pro-independence activists were arrested and a fifth is being investigated for trespassing on the PLA base during the protest against the conversion of a prime harbourfront spot into a military berth.

Separately, Liberal Party leader James Tien Pei-chun criticised Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying as "narrow-minded", accusing him of banning his ministers from attending the Beijing-loyalist party's 20th anniversary dinner last month. Only several undersecretaries showed up for the dinner on December 16.

Tien suggested this could have been an effort to punish the party after it joined forces with the pan-democrats to back the ill-fated motion for an investigation into the government's free-to-air TV licensing decision.

"But it's impossible for the Liberal Party to accept every policy put forward by the government … our lawmakers' power comes from the voters, not the government," he told TVB.

Although the Liberal Party put pressure on the government over the TV licensing row, Tien said that it had not affected the party's relationship with Beijing. He added that the party was yet to hear from Beijing on the matter.

But Lam dismissed Tien's claims, saying the government treated all parties equally. She added that she could not attend the dinner because she was not in Hong Kong at the time.

Meanwhile, in an unrelated incident, a 49-year-old man arrested on Friday for trespassing at the PLA headquarters in Admiralty has been granted bail.