Carrie Lam says husband calls her ‘crazy’ for working 17 hours a day as Hong Kong leader
Candid remarks part of interview in which she also claims nine pan-democrats accepted invitation for lunch meeting
Hong Kong’s leader revealed on a radio programme on Saturday that her husband had complained and called her “crazy” for working up to 17 hours a day, but to her, being the city’s chief executive was an “honourable mission”.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor also said she was relieved to have delivered her maiden policy address, adding that she “did not have enough time” to write it amid her various commitments and work trips, such as to Southeast Asia, London, and mainland China.
It was not until the end of last month that she sat down to prepare for the policy address.
She added that her civil service colleagues were not accustomed to submitting their proposals to her office by August, as the policy address was delivered in January in the previous administration.
Her candid remarks came a day after she said her decision on whether to seek re-election in 2022 would depend on her husband, Lam Siu-por, a mathematician.
Speaking on a radio programme, Lam said of her husband’s reaction to her work ethic: “There were a few nights when he said I was crazy.”
A career civil servant with a reputation for being a “good fighter”, Lam called her job an “honourable mission” that deserved her time, and said she aimed to fulfil the “huge responsibilities” laid on her shoulders.
“Those who are very competent only need a few hours a day to deal with big matters, so maybe I am not very competent,” she joked.
Her radio appearance was part of a press tour promoting her maiden policy address that was delivered on Wednesday.
Since taking office in July, Lam has been keen to mend the strained ties between the executive and legislative branches in the government.
On Saturday, she said about 40 lawmakers, including at least nine pan-democrats, had accepted an invitation for lunch at Government House on Monday. She expressed hope that the move was a sign of improving relations between the two branches.
On July 10, nearly 60 out of 68 lawmakers, including 16 from the opposition, turned up for their first lunch gathering with Lam at the Legislative Council, in sharp contrast with the farewell lunch in June for her unpopular predecessor, Leung Chun-ying, which pan-democrats boycotted.
“I hope our relationship will become more and more constructive, healthy and positive,” Lam said.
Pan-democrats strongly criticised Leung for being “too combative”. In his 2015 policy speech, the former chief executive issued a stern warning against pro-independence sentiments.
On security, Lam noted in her policy address that it was every Hongkonger’s job to “say no” to any threat to national sovereignty.
Asked during the programme whether she was trying to avoid angering pan-democrats, Lam replied: “I can’t consider the feelings of both camps on every single issue.”
Citing an example, she mentioned her surprise meeting with a group of patients last Sunday who were part of a demonstration organised by pan-democrats. Lam intimated the pro-establishment bloc had complained to her about the move.
“Some people may have felt uncomfortable about it,” she said. “But I really did not think of who organised it.”
She added her only thought was to walk out of her office in Admiralty to meet the patients, who were suffering from a rare disease and calling for government action on a new drug.
The demonstration, organised by Labour Party lawmaker Dr Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung, came days after several pro-establishment legislators had set up a joint alliance calling for Lam to help patients with rare diseases. She has yet to meet the alliance’s members over the issue.
On Friday, Lam made a rare gesture of accepting the invitation to attend the 10th anniversary dinner of The Professional Commons, a pan-democratic lobby group represented by Charles Mok and Kenneth Leung Kai-cheong in Legco.
Lam stayed for about 25 minutes and gave a speech during which she claimed her colleagues had initially recommended she decline the group’s invitation because of her busy schedule. Lam said she decided to go “as a new beginning to engage civic society”.