Hong Kong’s leader has defended superstar Andy Lau Tak-wah, who is under fire for supporting an idea by a think tank to reclaim land for housing in the space-starved city.
Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon after her policy address, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said she was pleasantly surprised that in a promotional video narrated by the actor-singer, he voiced themes in line with her policies, including the words “striving ahead” and “hope”.
The video was produced by Our Hong Kong Foundation – which is led by the city’s first chief executive Tung Chee-hwa – and proposes building a 2,200-hectare artificial island for housing to the east of Lantau Island as part of reclamation efforts.
In her policy address, Lam announced a similar project named “Lantau Tomorrow”, centred on reclaiming 1,700 hectares of land to house 1.1 million people.
Lau earlier told the Post he volunteered for the video as he thought the plan was a positive and practical solution. Reclamation is a controversial issue as critics have pointed to its environmental impact, length of construction time and costs, as well as viability amid rising sea levels and floods from increasingly unpredictable storms.
Referring to Lau, 57, by his pet name among Hongkongers, Lam, who is 61, said: “I came to a conclusion – ‘Wah Zai’ and I grew up in the same era. We both came from the grass roots, and benefited from the speedy economic development of Hong Kong at the time.
“To be honest, at our age, we are already not working for ourselves. But we care for the next generation. We want them to have such opportunities in career development,” Lam said.
“Unfortunately, the video has attracted criticism on social media with personal attacks and insults against Lau. I think that is very unfair to him,” Lam said. “I admire Mr Lau for his bravery to express his idea and I wish him success in his coming concert this month.”
On the Facebook page of Our Hong Kong Foundation, the 3½-minute video has attracted 3,300 angry emoticons, and 3,300 likes at the same time.
Among the more than 1,400 comments were accusations that Lau kowtowed to Beijing.
At a televised forum on Wednesday night, Lam brought up another man, when asked who exerted the most pressure on her.
“The greatest pressure came from Mr Lam, my husband,” she said, referring to mathematician Dr Lam Siu-por, who has struck a low profile since returning to the city from teaching in Britain.
“Over this year, I really don’t have much time to accompany him,” Lam said.
She added that she asked her husband about her policy address and he said it was a holistic one from the perspective of a citizen.
She quipped that he, however, then said: “But as your husband, I am very unsatisfied. As you will be even busier and have no time for me.”
Pressed if this would be a factor when it was time to consider running for a second term, Lam remained tight-lipped and said she would only concentrate on work at the moment.