Incumbent Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has denied that politics played a part in the round-up of pro-democracy Occupy protest leaders on Monday – a day after the city’s leadership election.
Nine pro-democracy figures are facing the common law charges of creating a public nuisance. The news came a day after Carrie Lam was elected as the city’s leader and pledged “social unity.”
Leung was asked on Tuesday if the timing of such an action would make the public feel the government was putting Lam in an embarrassing situation.
“It is clearly stated and stipulated in the Basic Law, Article 63, which the Hong Kong SAR Government follows,” he said. “The question of prosecution rests entirely on, the power of prosecution rests entirely with the Department of Justice.”
Speaking ahead of the weekly Executive Council meeting, Leung said each department of the government will communicate with him about their work, but insisted the Department of Justice’s prosecution work is independent.
Leung said Lam was chosen with a high number of votes – 777 – when asked by reporters how it compared with the 689 votes he received when he was elected. Winners only need 601 from the pool of 1,200 electors.
“In fact, in any election – many overseas examples are like this – the candidates receive over 50 per cent, or just slightly over,” he said. “All competitive elections are like that – both sides are racing head to head – it is not easy to get more than 50 per cent. So 777 votes for Mrs Lam is a high number.”
He said it was a “missed chance” that democrats did not field a candidate, as they had more than 300 electors – unlike in the past chief executive races. Many supported candidate John Tsang, the former finance chief.
“Does this mean John Tsang is their representative? People should think about it,” he said.
He said another missed chance was the failed political reform in 2015. However, it was rejected by democrats, as it would still allow Beijing to vet candidates through a nomination committee.
Carrie Lam said Tuesday that she wished that the controversial TSA tests – criticised for creating high-pressure homework drills – would be suspended this year. The tests will be implemented once again for all Primary Three students in the form of the Basic Competency Assessment Research Study (BCA).
When asked if Leung’s administration would follow Lam’s suggestion, Leung said that even if the tests were abolished, it would only happen after July 1 when he has stepped down.
Leung said he was concerned about the loss of two government computers which contain information of 3.7 million registered voters. But he would not comment on why the government only issued a statement after media exposed it.
Editor’s note: Digital media outlets such as Hong Kong Free Press are currently barred from attending government press conferences.