Hong Kong’s leader has vowed to heal wounds in a divided society and improve relations with the legislature. But how effective will Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor be?
It might be interesting for her to adopt the perspective of the lawmaker who became the “top enemy” of former chief executive Leung Chun-ying.
Leung sued pan-democrat Kenneth Leung, representing the accountancy sector, in 2016 for defamation over remarks about a HK$50 million (US$6.4 million) payment that the former city leader received from an Australian engineering firm.
As an advisory member under the Trade and Industry Department – appointed in January this year – Kenneth Leung joined a delegation and took part a Belt and Road forum held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing last week.
“Lam is more willing to spend time listening to different opinions from various parties,” Leung said, suggesting that may come from her abundant experience in the civil service.
The lawmaker said he hoped Lam would break from what he called her predecessor’s “irrational” tendency to appoint pro-establishment figures to different advisory committees, and appoint more professionals.
But he was quick to add that the government’s way of handling the high-speed rail border checkpoints, and its bar on candidates from running the coming by-election were “unacceptable”, among other complaints he had about Lam’s tenure so far.
“I like the high-speed rail link … but you can’t sacrifice the principle of the rule of law,” Leung said.
The local government plans to allow mainland officials to enforce mainland laws in a leased section of the Hong Kong terminal of the line to Guangzhou, drawing the ire of many pro-democracy activists. Leung was also referring to the decision by an election official to bar young pro-democracy activist Agnes Chow Ting from a Legislative Council by-election, based on her party Demosisto’s support for the city’s “self-determination”.
“But if you ask whether I can view every issue separately, yes, I can, as a politician.” he added. Leung said he, alongside five other lawmakers of The Professionals Guild, would oppose or support the government on a case-by-case basis.
Leung said he understood that as chief executive Lam could not provoke Beijing on certain issues. But he said safeguarding Hongkongers’ interests and rights was also a key part of her role.
So, has she achieved that?
“She hasn’t but she is trying … I would give her some more time,” he said.