Carrie Lam

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam’s Facebook Live event fails to impress LGBT groups after questions ‘snubbed’

Chief executive takes about 30 questions during 48-minute event and addresses range of issues – but more than 470 messages from LGBT groups go unanswered

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 18 August, 2018, 8:49pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 19 August, 2018, 12:59am

Hong Kong LGBT groups have accused the city’s leader of snubbing them during a Facebook Live question-and-answer session on Friday night.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, the first Hong Kong leader to use the platform, took about 30 questions during the 48-minute event, and addressed a range of issues.

But on Saturday, LGBT concern groups issued a joint statement expressing their disappointment at not catching her attention during the event. The groups posted more than 470 messages – making LGBT issues among the most popular topics of the about 10,000 comments – but all went unanswered.

The Post, checking comments on the Facebook Live page, found housing was the hottest topic, with 786 messages on the issue.

Some 572 messages were related to the one-way permit scheme, which allows up to 150 mainland Chinese each day to move to the city for families to be reunited, while 459 posts contained the keywords “Greater Bay Area”, the national development scheme integrating Hong Kong, Macau and nine other cities in Guangdong province as a powerhouse to rival Silicon Valley.

While some messages sarcastically asked when Lam would move to the Greater Bay Area, others urged mainlanders to reunite with their families there instead of moving to Hong Kong.

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The LGBT groups argued their messages – amounting to 473 posts in total with key words such as “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” – were as significant as other topics addressed by Lam including education and Hong Kong independence.

“Many people hoped the chief executive would respond to [calls for an] anti-discrimination law on sexual orientation and gender identity,” Billy Leung, convenor of Hong Kong Equality Project, said. “However, the two hosts repeatedly avoided raising questions about the issue.”

He questioned whether Lam deliberately snubbed those messages.

Half of her answers were to questions filed in advance and picked from a box, while the rest were selected by the two hosts, who were sitting beside Lam, from comments and questions posted online during the session. The hosts were two analysts, a young man and woman, from the Policy Innovation and Coordination Office, the government think tank formerly known as the Central Policy Unit.

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Democratic Party lawmaker Roy Kwong Chun-yu also called the event a failure. “She didn’t even read the comments by herself. How could this be called an interaction with netizens?”

Frankie Ngan Man-yu, chairman of the Young Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, agreed Lam could have done better by addressing comments directly.

But he believed it was a good start and urged Lam and her cabinet to make it a regular occurrence.

Chinese University political scientist Ivan Choy Chi-keung said: “The most important message is her gesture – Lam wants to show she is up to date and not afraid of using Facebook.”

Choy said it was more like a PR exercise than a genuine consultation, as it was almost impossible for her to gain support from netizens who were largely anti-government through a short live event.