Carrie Lam

Chief executive dismisses suggestions that Hong Kong has entered ‘era of authoritarian rule of law’

Carrie Lam says she does not like creating social conflicts and will not take Hong Kong down authoritarian path

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 26 August, 2017, 7:27pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 26 August, 2017, 10:16pm

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor dismissed on Saturday suggestions that the city had entered an “era of authoritarian rule of law” as she claimed she was not a fan of stirring up conflict.

She was responding to comments made by pan-democrats after the Court of Appeal jailed young activists Joshua Wong Chi-fung, Alex Chow Yong-kang and Nathan Law Kwun-chung for six to eight months over the storming of a government headquarters compound that led to the 79-day Occupy sit-ins in 2014.

In another development, the Court of Final Appeal on Friday rejected the final bid by disqualified pro-independence lawmakers Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching to be reinstated in the Legislative Council.

“I am not a person who likes to create social conflicts ... Some people worry that [the city]has entered the so-called ‘authoritarian rule of law era’ and that the SAR government will make use of the legal system to oppress or divide society,” Lam said as she left on a visit to the northern mainland city of Tianjin on Saturday.

“I have to stress clearly that this is neither going to happen nor is it my direction of governance.”

On an earlier radio show, Executive Council convenor Bernard Chan was asked if he agreed that the city had become authoritarian.

Chan, who headed Lam’s election campaign, said the chief executive was a “practical person” who “would not have time to add fuel to fire”.

“I believe, after Lam took office, everyone can tell she is a practical person. I think she absolutely doesn’t want to spend time creating more social divisions,” he said.

“There are lots of things she has to handle, such as post-handover social contradictions, housing and education. I really don’t believe she has the additional time to create more disputes within society.”

When asked about communication with groups in the pan-democratic camp, Chan said the government did not have a “honeymoon period” as different political parties had different views.

But he said Hong Kong was not alone in facing problems like poverty and upward mobility for young people, as they were the result of globalisation, adding that having another chief executive would not instantly solve these problems.

Chan said he was confident that the current Executive Council could do a better job than the last one under Leung Chun-ying because there had been more communication between members and different government bureaus.

He went on to say that Lam had asked every minister to listen to the council’s views when policies were being thought out, while executive councillors had become more familiar with officials’ work.

He revealed that he had considering inviting new blood to the council, but now realised that such a move might be problematic as such people might not be able to adapt to the way the government operates.