Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam ‘most liberal-minded’ chief executive city has ever had, top government adviser says as he backs her to serve a second term
- Executive councillor Ronny Tong backs chief executive to serve a second term in charge, saying ‘better the devil you know’
- Lam has not yet said if she will seek re-election in March next year
A top government adviser has backed Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor to serve another term, and hailed her as the “most liberal-minded” chief executive the city has ever had.
While Ronny Tong Ka-wah also acknowledged Lam had some weaknesses, he said he hoped she stayed on in the top job because it was a case of “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t”.
Tong threw his support behind the city’s chief executive in an interview with the online current affairs platform Think HK, which was released on Tuesday. The platform was set up by the Our Hong Kong Foundation, a think tank founded by former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa.
Tung, who is now a vice-chairman of China’s top political advisory body the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), also backed Lam in the 2017 chief executive elections.
“Carrie Lam is the most liberal minded of all the chief executives [since 1997],” Tong said. “During her term, the number of people from the liberal camp, democracy camp, and third road who can enter the government is much bigger than that in any of the previous terms of government.
“I hope she can stay. There is a saying in English: Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.”
Tong said while he recognised Lam had “a lot of weaknesses”, she also had a lot of strengths.
“If she can serve for several more years, I trust that she can deliver the work better,” he added. “She is facing a lot of constraints now. If she can make her government more open to accommodate more people from various sectors to widen the political spectrum of the government, I think it is better than [getting another chief executive to] start all over again.”
Tong also said popularity was not the only benchmark in choosing the chief executive, and stressed the importance of the city’s leader having Beijing’s trust.
Tong was a lawmaker of the opposition Civic Party, but he quit the group in 2015, citing differences with its leadership over how to fight for democracy. He set up his own middle-of-the-road think tank, Path of Democracy, and in 2017 was appointed by Lam to her de facto cabinet, the Executive Council.
Lam will finish her current five-year term next year, and the chief executive election has been scheduled for next March.
The 63-year-old has not said if she plans to seek another term, and while no one else has come forward to challenge her for the job, her predecessor, Leung Chun-ying, has been rumoured to be considering a comeback.
Asked about it in a televised interview earlier this month, Leung, who is also a vice-chairman of the CPPCC, said he had not made a decision, but added he would be open to taking any role if it were “beneficial to the interests of the country”.
Separately, Starry Lee Wai-king was re-elected on Tuesday as the chairwoman of the city’s leading pro-establishment party, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong.
Lee said the party’s priority over the next two years would be to work on nurturing more young political talent capable of serving in government.
“Now we are entering a new age, and under the new political landscape, [DAB] will need to evolve too,” said Lee, referring to the sweeping electoral changes recently imposed on Hong Kong by Beijing.
She said her party would hope to be able to build up a “political talents bank” in order to supply people to serve the community and the government in the future.
But she said it was too early to talk about the party’s strategies in the Election Committee and Legislative Council elections, scheduled for September and December, respectively.