‘Control freak’ Carrie Lam threatened to quit on Henry Tang, claims former government adviser

Lau Sai-leung writes online that top civil servants might quit if Lam wins

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 19 March, 2017, 5:42pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 19 March, 2017, 6:22pm

Chief executive contender Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor is a “control freak”, and threatened to resign from the government because she did not get her way, a former adviser to the Hong Kong government has claimed.

Lau Sai-leung, a full-time adviser to the government’s Central Policy Unit think tank from 2006 to 2012, said he worried that senior civil servants will walk out if Lam wins the chief executive election on March 26.

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He accused Lam of having, whilst development secretary, threatened to resign in a row with then chief secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen.

Speaking after a public event on Sunday, Tang himself declined to say if Lam had threatened to resign, and insisted that she “has a good relationship with civil servants.”

Lam was at the development bureau from 2007 to 2012, while Tang was chief secretary. After Tang resigned and lost to Leung Chun-ying in the 2012 chief executive election, Lam succeeded him as the city’s No 2 official in July 2012.

Lau wrote on his Facebook page on Saturday: “What kind of person is [Carrie] Lam?”

He went on: “[She is a] control freak: all administrative officers with dissenting views... would be insulted because she believes that only she is right.

“She would lose her temper when she could not accept her decision being overruled by her boss... She wanted to crack down on unauthorised structures in the New Territories, and when [Tang] asked her to hold on as the impact would be too extensive, she threatened to resign.”

A spokesman for Lam’s campaign office said: “Mrs Lam is a frank person. In her service to Hong Kong, she has always been people-oriented, and placed public interest as priority.

“Those accusations were malicious attacks on Mrs Lam.”

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But Tang said: “I cannot reveal the government’s internal affairs... but I don’t think Mrs Lam is arrogant. She has always been caring and able to unite her team.”

Tang, who sits on the standing committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, the nation’s top political advisory body, is supporting Lam in the election.

In an anonymous letter published in Apple Daily on Saturday, a “senior government official” claimed that Lam, whilst development minister, had refused to give Tsang a list of land developable for public housing, and should therefore be held responsible for high land prices today.

Lam called those claims “groundless fabrications”.

The Chinese-language Ming Pao also quoted anonymous sources as saying that several senior civil servants, including Elizabeth Tse Man-yee, who is permanent secretary for financial services and the treasury, could quit the government if Lam wins the top job.

The report alleged that Tse had cried in front of colleagues after being scolded by Lam, but Tse dismissed that on Saturday. “There was no such thing ... We would always be responsible in our positions,” she said.