Carrie Lam

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam says government morale and unity has improved during her first year in office

Speaking on Sunday, city’s chief executive suggests creating cultural and tourism bureau, as well as merging housing and land departments

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 01 July, 2018, 6:10pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 01 July, 2018, 11:15pm

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has said that she is satisfied with the morale and unity of the executive branch in the past year, as she offered support for the judiciary and an improved relationship with the legislature.

Giving her self-assessment of the city’s governance in her first year in office, the chief executive also said the government would need to create a cultural and tourism bureau, as well as bringing its housing and land branches under one roof to enhance policy coherence and devote more attention to their respective policy areas.

Lam said the current workload for Secretary for Transport and Housing Frank Chan Fan was “too heavy”.

Apart from tackling Hong Kong’s housing shortage, Chan has also been busy handling a string of shoddy construction scandals plaguing the HK$97.1 billion Sha Tin to Central link – the city’s costliest rail project.

Lam, who joined the government in 1980, was speaking in a group interview on Sunday when she was asked to give an assessment on her first year as the city’s top official.

She said she is “very satisfied” with the executive branch.

“The Executive Council handled a lot of sensitive issues and stayed as a [united] entity, my team of [principal] officials has also been united,” she said.

Lam added that during her election campaign, there was speculation that there could be an “exodus” of senior civil servants who would not want to work with her.

“Not only that this did not happen … the morale of civil servants has also been good,” she said, adding that the government has received a large number of applications during job openings in the past year.

Lam added that she would not judge her key officials according to opinion polls.

On her relationship with lawmakers, Lam said while the opposition pan-democrats are still critical of her, she has tried to maintain a good working relationship with them.

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“I would accept good proposals from pan-democrats, and meet underprivileged groups lined up by pan-democrats. I would not shut the door on them just because a pan-democrat was involved,” she said.

Lam added that she believes that the number of government proposals passed by the legislature is a key indicator of whether the tie between the executive and legislative branches was good.

“The number of bills … and public works funding proposals approved have reached a record high in the past year,” she noted.

Lam said she also made sure that she would appoint members from both the pro-establishment and pan-democratic camps to advisory bodies. The government’s relationship with the pan-democrats has improved, she added.

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Recently, the pan-democratic camp has failed, for the fourth conservative year, to be included among the 282 recipients on the government’s official honours list.

But Lam said the list “has never been used for political reconciliation”.

On the judiciary, Lam said she has given it “200 per cent respect”.

“My only function for the judiciary is to give it sufficient resources. If they want properties, people or improvement in benefits for judges, we have always said yes in the past year,” she said.