Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam says she prays for city’s youth daily, warns them to ‘think thrice’ before breaking law
Hongkongers rate chief executive’s maiden policy address 62.4 out of 100 in survey by HKU public opinion programme
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said on Thursday that while she would continue to reach out to the city’s young people, they must not break the law.
Speaking on a radio programme the morning after she rolled out her maiden policy address, Lam also said she hoped that the city’s youth would “realise one day that the government cares about them”.
She later said in a question-and-answer session with lawmakers that as a Catholic, she prayed for Hong Kong’s young people every day, hoping that “they will become citizens with a sense of national identity”.
In August, 16 political activists, including student leader Joshua Wong Chi-fung, were imprisoned after the justice department succeeded in obtaining harsher sentences from the Court of Appeal for their roles in two unlawful protests in 2014.
The justice department’s request for review and the activists’ subsequent jailing raised questions about whether the government was genuine about engaging young people.
But delivering her policy blueprint on Wednesday, Lam announced that the government wanted to “connect with young people” by boosting the city’s technology and creative industries and appointing more young people to various advisory committees.
Asked on the programme if she was touched by the sacrifice made by the youngsters who had been jailed, Lam said: “I am touched by the acts of young people every day. I am touched by Chow Pui-shan, who wrote a proposal using two fingers.”
Lam was referring to Josy Chow, a paralysed 23-year-old woman with a rare disease who wrote the chief executive a proposal explaining why patients like her should be treated with a potentially life-saving new drug.
Asked if she appreciated young people’s sacrifice for social justice, Lam said: “I don’t know what is meant here by ‘sacrifice’. If it’s about sacrificing one’s life or breaking the law, you must think thrice [before acting].”
After the programme, Lam attended a 90-minute meeting at the Legislative Council and answered 19 questions from legislators on the policy address.
Democratic Party lawmaker Ted Hui Chi-fung asked Lam to explain how she felt about the jailing of the young activists and what more she would do for young people.
Lam said: “My feeling is that Hong Kong is a society that values the rule of law … I pray especially for Hong Kong’s young people every day, so that they can become citizens with a sense of national identity, attachment to Hong Kong, a global perspective, and willingness to commit to society.”
Meanwhile, in a survey by the University of Hong Kong’s public opinion programme on Wednesday afternoon, 48 per cent of Hongkongers polled were satisfied with the policy address, while 14 per cent were not.
On a scale of 0 to 100 indicating their degree of satisfaction, Lam’s maiden address was rated 62.4 in the survey, which covered 524 Cantonese-speaking Hong Kong citizens aged 18 or above who had heard the policy address.
This made it one of the most highly rated addresses since the 1997 handover. Former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa’s address in 1997 was rated 6.3 on a scale of 0 to 10, while Donald Tsang Yam-kuen’s addresses in 2005 and 2007 scored 66.4 and 65.2 respectively on a scale of 0 to 100.
In contrast, Lam’s predecessor Leung Chun-ying’s maiden policy address delivered on January 16, 2013, was rated 56.4 on the same scale in a similar survey by HKU’s public opinion programme.
Additional reporting by Danny Mok