Carrie Lam

Hong Kong’s next leader prepares for Beijing trip and formal appointment

Chief executive-elect will meet Premier Li Keqiang and President Xi Jinping during the four-day visit

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 April, 2017, 12:08pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 April, 2017, 11:29pm

Hong Kong’s leader in waiting, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, will fly to Beijing on Sunday for her appointment to be formally confirmed by Premier Li Keqiang, as state leaders list their expectations for the new chief executive who has vowed to heal the city’s political divide in the next five years.

It will be Lam’s first official trip to the ­capital since winning the city’s leadership race on March 26 with 777 votes from the 1,194-member Election Committee.

Lam is also expected to meet President Xi Jinping ­during the four-day trip, which will conclude on Wednesday.

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Last Friday, Li expressed confidence that Lam could unite Hong Kong, as he signed an official letter to formally appoint her as the next chief executive on July 1.

In a statement released on Thursday, Lam’s office said she would receive from Li the signed “instrument of appointment”.

“The chief executive-elect’s husband, Mr Lam Siu-por, will join the visit,” the statement said.

Professor Lau Siu-kai, vice-chairman of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, said Xi and Li were likely to set out to-do lists in meetings with Lam.

“They will expect her to implement ‘one country, two systems’ comprehensively and accurately,” Lau said. “This is likely to be their first personal meeting with [Lam] too, so they will assess her stance, capability and style.”

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Lau expected Lam to ­discuss forming her new cabinet with officials from the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office.

“Because Lam was not the most popular candidate in the election, Beijing will hope the new cabinet will be credible enough to strengthen the government’s authority,” he added.

Chinese University political scientist Ivan Choy Chi-keung said Hongkongers would be interested in whether the state leaders’ messages for Lam would include the concepts of “social harmony and solving the city’s deep-rooted problems”, such as its reliance on financial industries.

In 2012, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, who was the newly elected leader in waiting at the time, met then-premier Wen Jiabao, who called for a clean government amid an outbreak of corruption scandals involving top officials.

The following day, then-president Hu Jintao pinned high hopes on Leung’s vision of governance and called for unity in the city after a divisive election.

Meanwhile, Lam had a meeting with about 30 civil service and disciplinary forces union representatives on Thursday. She praised the civil servants for serving Hong Kong diligently and reiterated her promise to extend the retirement age from 60 to 65. Currently, government employees joining the civil service after 2000 have to retire at 60.

Lam also said she would review the practice of creating “time-limited” contract posts, as well as whether the government’s services had been affected by the internal policy that bureaus and departments must cut their growth in spending on existing programmes by 1 per cent annually for two years from 2016.

The policy was introduced when Lam’s leadership rival, John Tsang Chun-wah, was financial secretary.