Blame me, not my team for Hong Kong chief executive race missteps, ‘greenhorn’ Carrie Lam says

Former chief secretary’s PR gaffes have drawn much criticism, but her supporters are standing firm

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 16 March, 2017, 9:01pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 16 March, 2017, 11:19pm

Chief executive candidate Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor is shielding her campaign team from criticism for her public relations blunders, saying she takes full responsibility and that the missteps were due to her inexperience in electioneering.

The former government No 2 official also sought to play down online attacks against her, suggesting they were mobilised and coordinated efforts.

In an interview with online media on Thursday, Lam was grilled by host, former Democratic Party chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing, for her much panned remarks during Tuesday’s televised election debate.

In that event, Lam had said she would resign if she became too unpopular. She also praised Julian Law Wing-chung, a key member in rival John Tsang Chun-wah’s team, whose strategies she said had greatly boosted Tsang’s popularity.

Lam clarified in the interview Thursday that she did not mean to disparage her own team.

“It was all my fault and I should take responsibility for those PR gaffes,” Lam said, adding: “I have told my team about [my position]. For electioneering, I am only a greenhorn in this area.”

But she said: “We do not necessarily need to elect a chief executive with high ratings in public opinion polls.The people want a chief executive who can solve various problems, like livelihood issues.”

I agree with the concept of ‘2.0’ because policies should be continued and improved … Lam said she would have her own style of governance – maybe she is not ‘CY 2.0’, but ‘Hong Kong government 2.0’
Eddy Li, Chinese Manufacturers’ Association president

In a bid to boost her popularity, Lam’s office launched a publicity campaign this month, putting up banners on pavement railings, advertisements on buses, as well as posters in MTR stations.

Posters were placed in stations on the East Rail and West Rail lines on Thursday and more will go up in stations on the Tsuen Wan Line and Kwun Tong Line on Friday.

Later on Thursday, Lam met with representatives from five disciplined services and civil servants associations. Chairman of the Government Disciplined Services General Union Lau Yuk-fai expressed appreciation, as Lam was the only candidate to invite them to a manifesto briefing.

“It is an expression of respect and recognition to us,” Lau said, adding issues discussed during the meeting included housing welfare and the retirement age.

The police force, which was also invited, cited political neutrality as a reason for declining.

Meanwhile, Election Committee member and Chinese Manufacturers’ Association president Eddy Li Sau-hung, said he would recommend others from his group to vote for Lam on March 26.

Critics had labelled Lam “CY 2.0”, as they believe the former chief secretary would continue the perceived hardline stance of Leung Chun-ying, the outgoing chief executive.

But Li said: “I agree with the concept of ‘2.0’ because policies should be continued and improved … Lam said she would have her own style of governance – maybe she is not ‘CY 2.0’, but ‘Hong Kong government 2.0’.”

At least five Election Committee members from the pan-democratic camp – People Power lawmaker Raymond Chan Chi-chuen and fellow lawmakers “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung, Eddie Chu Hoi-dick, Lau Siu-lai, and Nathan Law Kwun-chung – have plans to stage protests against the small-circle election at the next debate on Sunday, where Lam, Tsang and Woo Kwok-hing will cross swords again.

Organisers said security firms would be on hand to ensure order at the venue.