Hong Kong’s chief executive-elect Carrie Lam, voted in by a small-circle committee on Sunday, has pledged to work with the public to begin a new chapter for the city. She also said will make “courtesy calls” to China’s governmental organs in Hong Kong as part of protocol.
“Anyone with a sincere wish to serve, the ability and the commitment regardless of political affiliations, I shall invite to join my team,” she said in her acceptance speech. “Only in this way will we achieve real consensus and gain the widest support from the society.”
Lam was chosen by 777 eligible electors to become the city’s next leader.
The former chief secretary said that she would tour local districts, as well as visit the incumbent leader Leung Chun-ying, the secretary of justice, the legislature and the three Chinese government offices in Hong Kong as part of protocol.
The three offices include: the Central Liaison Office, the city’s the Ministry of Foreign Affairs office, and the local headquarters of the People’s Liberation Army.
In 2012, Leung made a similar courtesy call to the Central Liaison Office immediately after his electoral victory. Critics claimed it was a way of “giving thanks” to Beijing following his successful campaign.
Likewise, over the past two months, numerous political figures have claimed that Beijing has actively supported Lam in her bid for Hong Kong’s top office.
However, Lam said that these calls did not constitute “thanking” Beijing for its support. She added that her first priority was to visit different local areas in Hong Kong in order to thank the public.
“I owe my position not only to the 1,194 Election Committee members,” she said. “I owe it to the people of Hong Kong.”
On Sunday, Lam emerged victorious after receiving 777 votes from the 1,194-strong Election Committee – the city’s electoral college, whose members comprise only 0.03 per cent of the registered voting population.
Lam added that she was trusted by the Chinese government because of her 36-year civil servant career, and her experience in handling political reform and work related to the mainland
She said that the perceived influence of Beijing in her electoral victory were simply “rumours,” from which society needed to move on.
Safeguarding core values
Questioned on public fears over Hong Kong’s eroding autonomy in the face of Beijing’s perceived intervention, Lam said that she would uphold and safeguard the city’s core values: “The rule of law, the independence of the judiciary, a clean government, and so on.”
“[Hong Kong’s core values] are actually within One Country, Two Systems and enshrined under the Basic Law,” she said. “So in so far as the central authorities are concerned, there is actually no difference in our views to safeguard these core values.”
She added that she would be brave enough to speak up for Hongkongers, as long as something is for the good of Hong Kong. “I think everyone here knows about my courage,” she said.
A new administration
Lam faces low popularity ratings even before the beginning of her tenure. Her election rival, former financial secretary John Tsang, recently warned in a televised debate that the social divisions and polarisation under the Leung administration would continue under Lam.
On Sunday, she told reporters that her primary task as chief executive would be to unite society. She promised to firstly work on less-politicised problems such as housing and education, which would create a favourable environment to tackle tougher issues such as political reform.
“This will not be achieved in one day,” she said. “But give me time.”
Lam added that she would invite people across the political spectrum to join her governing administration. She hinted that she had candidates in mind, but would not disclose their identities at present.