Carrie Lam says she has the ‘courage’ to make tough choices for Hong Kong

The former chief secretary cited her past handling of controversial issues such as the Hong Kong Palace Museum as evidence of her leadership strength

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 02 March, 2017, 8:02am
UPDATED : Thursday, 02 March, 2017, 8:02am

Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has said she is prepared to offer the “courageous” leadership Hong Kong needs and will not shy away from making difficult decisions on controversial matters for the benefit of the city.

In an interview with the Post yesterday, the front-runner in the chief executive election defended her handling of the Hong Kong Palace Museum project, and her proposal to relax the rules for subsidised housing - both moves which have attracted criticism.

The housing proposal, a highlight in her manifesto unveiled on Monday, was met with reservations from government advisers about giving “double benefits” to a certain class of homeowners.

You need someone who is willing to make difficult decisions for Hong Kong based on evidence
Carrie Lam

“I have a record of doing that sort of unprecedented thing because I want to do things for Hong Kong,” the former chief secretary said. “If we continue to do things the same way and the same way has proved to be inadequate to meet the people’s aspirations ... [I will] do things in a slightly different way and [be less concerned about the] usual worries about ‘double benefits’ and so on.”

Lam has proposed that owners of the 250,000 existing subsidised flats under the Home Ownership Scheme would be allowed to work with social enterprises to lease their units to achieve the overall social objective of maximising the use of such flats and increase liquidity in the rental market.

Currently, those owners are forbidden to rent out their homes unless they pay the land premium to the Housing Authority to compensate it for the discount they received for their purchase years ago.

She cited one possibility: an old lady whose children have moved out can lease one of the rooms in her flat to a single parent and her child, so that the lady would have company and the parent could take advantage of cheap accommodation.

But asked about drawing a line between breaking traditions for innovation and maintaining procedural propriety, Lam said: “That’s why you need courageous leadership.

“You need someone who is willing to make difficult decisions for Hong Kong based on evidence.”

Lam also remained stoutly unapologetic for her handling the contentious Hong Kong Palace Museum.

In December, to widespread surprise, Lam announced in Beijing that Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District would build a complex to house a collection loaned by the landmark museum in the capital. She swiftly attracted criticism for the lack of consultation and transparency in the decision-making process.

“There’s no usual consultation for projects like this, I’m sorry,” Lam said, insisting she had followed the all the rules. “I don’t think you want to go into that. I have a long story to tell. I just want to impress upon you the [museum] is a godsend.

“I bear the responsibility. People dislike it but I have done one big good thing for Hong Kong.”