‘The work of uniting society begins now’: Carrie Lam pledges to heal Hong Kong’s divide

Key move to meet legislators from different political spectrums, Lam said, stopping short of promising to push for universal suffrage

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 March, 2017, 3:49pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 26 March, 2017, 10:12pm

Former chief secretary Carrie Lam, who is to walk into Government House from July 1 as Hong Kong’s first female leader after winning Sunday’s chief executive election, has pledged to “heal the social divide” and “unite our society to move forward”.

Lam, who was declared Hong Kong’s next leader after securing 777 votes in the election, also said she would safeguard Hong Kong’s core values.

“The work of uniting society and moving forward begins now,” the former government No 2 official said.

Lam sidestepped questions whether Beijing had been behind her victory but said she would “have no fears” to defend the interests of Hong Kong people in front of Beijing.

But she said it would be standard “protocol” for her to call on the mainland agencies based in Hong Kong – including the central government’s liaison office – as chief executive-elect.

“It is not to [thank them for their support], but as chief executive-elect, there is some protocol I have to observe,” Lam said.

“Hong Kong, our home, is suffering from quite a serious divisiveness and has accumulated a lot of frustration. My priority will be to heal the divide and to ease the frustration – and to unite our society to move forward,” said Lam, delivering her victory speech as she was surrounded by her supporters and flanked by her husband, Professor Lam Siu-por and son, Jeremy.

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A key move, she said, was to meet legislators from different political spectrums to work out a mechanism of regular communication.

But she stopped short of promising to push for universal suffrage for Hongkongers.

“I too want more democracy in Hong Kong. But Hong Kong is facing a lot of problems. Why don’t we start with the easier subjects first?” she said.

As a novice politician, Lam said she had learned to be humble from the campaign.

“At the start of this campaign, I felt rather confident that years of public service meant I should know things reasonably well. In the process, however, I heard so much more from people’s heart, and learned and experienced many new things as well as different angles to things.

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“I see my shortcomings and understand that I must put in more efforts.”

She reiterated her commitment to housing, education, tax reforms, and youth works that she had promised in her election platforms.

Lam also acknowledged her rivals in the election, praising that “they all ran good campaigns which taught me a lot”.

There came an emotional moment when she talked about her family life.

“My husband sacrifices so much for me. Sorry, husband,” she said, holding back tears.

“As for my sons, they are grown up already. Maybe they can Facebook me more.”

Her husband, stealing the microphone for a few seconds, added: “I am willing to continue my sacrifice for the sake of Hong Kong people.”

She added she felt honoured to be the first female chief executive as the city is to mark the 20th anniversary of handover. She also urged more women to take part in politics.

Defeated candidate Woo Kwok-hing said he hoped Lam could honour her pledges made during the campaign and “bring back harmony to Hong Kong”.

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Her rival John Tsang also praised Lam as “a capable person”.

New People Party’s Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, who did not secure enough nominations to run in the election, said Carrie Lam needs to listen to the views of different parties from now on.

Lam also needs to show bigger sincerity but Ip believed that Lam had already learned that during her run for the top job.

Civil Party lawmaker Alvin Yeung said the results had shown that the Beijing Liaison Office had tight control over the pro-Beijing camp.

In victory speech, Hong Kong chief executive-elect Carrie Lam vows to heal divisions, reach out to young

In the days leading up to the election, there were media reports that Election Committee members were pressured by Beijing to support Lam.

Yeung said Lam had won the race, but not the hearts of Hong Kong people.

Asked if there would still be room for the pan democrats to cooperate with the new administration, Yeung said Lam had to convince them and the society that she was willing to listen to others and mend the rift.

Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong lawmaker Holden Chow Ho-ding welcomes the results.

He said Lam has the ability to tackle the difficult livelihood problems of Hong Kong.

“She had good communications with different sectors, including the pan democrats before. I hope both sides could build up trust again after the election.”

Additional reporting by Phila Siu, Kimmy Chung, Emily Tsang, Jeffie Lam, Tony Cheung