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Carrie Lam

Incoming Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam says she has finished forming her ‘very practical’ cabinet

Chief executive-elect says new team can hit the ground running as many members are from civil service

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 June, 2017, 1:37pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 June, 2017, 11:13pm

Less than two weeks before she takes over as Hong Kong leader, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has at last finalised her cabinet team, describing it as “a very practical one”.

A source said Lam was likely to introduce her team to the public on Wednesday at the earliest – before the administration takes office on July 1. This would follow Beijing’s approval of the line-up.

Incumbent Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying announced his cabinet on June 28, just three days ahead of his swearing in five years ago.

While Lam had initially wanted to inject new blood into the government, and she has faced criticism for failing to find fresh talent, she said that having a seasoned cabinet would make her work easier.

“I’d describe my cabinet as a very practical one,” she said on a radio show on Saturday, as she admitted many members were civil service veterans.

Since being elected in March, Lam had faced a real headache in trying to find new talent to help her govern. Last month she struggled to fill the last vacancy after former lawmaker Tony Tse Wai-chuen was rumoured to have turned down an offer to become development minister.

The incumbent permanent secretary, or top civil servant, in the bureau, Michael Wong Wai-lun, was tipped to take up the ministerial role.

The other 15 posts will mostly be filled by either incumbents or officials promoted from within the government, with the exception of Law Chi-kwong, a veteran pan-democrat tipped to be secretary for labour and welfare.

“I and almost everyone in the cabinet are already familiar with each other. We don’t need to spend much time adjusting but can start working right away,” Lam said.

In her own words: Carrie Lam on Beijing, societal rifts and marriage sacrifices

Yet she was adamant her team would need to adopt a new working style, improving on areas such as policy promotion and communication with the Legislative Council.

“The promotion and packaging, with the release of information, are very crucial in governing nowadays,” she said, adding that if a good policy was not delivered well, it would be hijacked by the government’s political enemies in Legco.

Lam said her priority after taking office would be to announce a detailed proposal on what she hoped to do with the extra HK$5 billion a year she plans to spend on education.

She would announce the plan in her first week as leader and hoped to get funding approval from Legco before its session ended in mid-July.

On her role as a bridge between the central government in Beijing and the Hong Kong people, Lam promised she would be honest in telling the country’s top officials what Hongkongers were thinking.

“I am a rather blunt person. I will accurately and comprehensively speak,”she said, adding that she believed Beijing officials also had various other channels to gauge the thoughts of Hong Kong people.

Meanwhile, Lam insisted that her husband Lam Siu-por’s love letter to her, which was released on Valentine’s Day this year, was not politically motivated.

On why “one country, two systems” was mentioned in the letter, Lam explained that this was because her husband had said he would be willing to let her work for five more years only if she could safeguard “one country, two systems”.