Chief Executive-elect Carrie Lam has said that mending rifts in society does not mean compromising the rule of law. Her comments came as police cracked down on leaders of the pro-democracy 2014 occupy protests on Monday, hours after she was elected by a mostly pro-Beijing committee.
Nine protesters received calls from the police saying that they will be charged with public nuisance. Those targeted include the three conveners of the demonstrations, student leaders, political activists and lawmakers.
Lam, who was seen as Beijing’s favourite in the election, had pledged unity for a divided city when she gave her victory speech on Sunday. 777 electors chose Lam to replace the embattled incumbent leader Leung Chun-ying. She denied she knew of the police action, when she was asked if she was being “pranked” by the government’s action.
“Prosecution actions are undertaken independently by the Department of Justice under the Basic Law. I made it very clear that I want to unite society and bridge the divide that has been causing us concerns. But all these actions should not compromise the rule of law in Hong Kong and also the independent prosecution process that I have just mentioned,” she said, when speaking to the press after meeting the Legislative Council President.
“This is an action of the current term Hong Kong SAR government done independently by the investigation and prosecution authority, I really don’t have anything to comment on that,” said Lam, the former chief secretary under incumbent Chief Executive Leung.
“I want to reiterate that the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary are important core values of Hong Kong, and as the chief executive elect, and also in time to come, the chief executive of the Hong Kong SAR, I will firmly adhere to these important principles,” she added.
Lam was also making courtesy calls to Leung and the chief justice on Monday.
“I am extremely excited to come back to the Central Government Offices, a place which I’m very familiar with, on the second day after winning the election as the Chief Executive of the next-term Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government,” she said after meeting Leung and thanked civil servants for the smooth election.
“I have explained to the Chief Executive my priorities as laid down in the manifesto and the first task of trying to unify society and to improve the relationship between the executive and the legislature. I have every confidence that we will have a very smooth transition in order to put together as early as possible the various actions to implement the initiatives in my manifesto.”
She said there will be an historic moment in Hong Kong as it looks forward to celebrating the 20th anniversary of the handover to China.
“So preparing for the celebrations will also be an important part in the smooth transition. And I will work very closely with the Chief Executive, my own office as well as the team of civil servants to ensure that we will be putting together a very smooth and effective transition in preparation for the next term of the Hong Kong SAR Government.”
Leung called on society to fully support Lam and the new government “to work together to realise the potential for a better Hong Kong.”