Carrie Lam
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HK changes for the worse, says Carrie Lam

Carrie Lam

The atmosphere in Hong Kong has changed for the worse but the chief executive should not shoulder the blame, the city's former representative in London said.

Mutual trust in society was falling and suspicion increasing because people wanted to protect their own interests as the economy recovered, Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said yesterday.

Mrs Lam was posted to London in late 2004. She was promoted to her new position in January.

She said it was inevitable society would become politicised but this would not affect social harmony. 'When the economy is improving, people want to protect their own interests,' Mrs Lam told a media gathering.

She said Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen should not be blamed despite the change in atmosphere since he took over from Tung Chee-hwa.

'Demand from the public has become higher and the government is, of course, expected to respond quicker.

'Where there are people, there will be politics. Society will inevitably become politicised but I think people will not oppose it.'

Mrs Lam denied speculation in political circles that she was taking over a large part of the work of her boss, Secretary for Home Affairs Patrick Ho Chi-ping. 'The secretary is at a very high level and supports us from there ... You don't expect him to know about all issues in detail.'

She said priorities facing the Home Affairs Bureau in the coming months included the district councils review, where a number of district bodies will be given greater flexibility and funding to manage municipal facilities.

She said the government had not yet decided which district would first join the pilot scheme next January. But the whole project could be delayed until July next year if all 18 district councils wanted to take part together.