Lawmaker Felix Chung Kwok-pan of the pro-business Liberal Party hopes that a rare lunch that took place Thursday among lawmakers from across the political spectrum will set an example for Chief Executive-elect Carrie Lam.
“Lam said first thing after winning the [leadership] election that she will mend the rift in society. This is definitely the responsibility of the government, but I think the legislature and people at different levels are also partly responsible,” Chung said on a Commercial Radio programme on Friday.
“So before Lam takes action, we are doing our part – chatting with each other, creating a friendly atmosphere. The lunch will set an example for her, showing her that sitting together helps and sending this message: if you made a promise, do it as soon as possible.”
The lawmaker also said last month that there are sufficient opportunities for Lam to mend social divisions, such as by reopening “Civic Square,” a former protest site outside the Government Headquarters that was shut down in July 2014.
The remarks came after ten lawmakers met over an informal lunch Thursday in an effort to foster understanding. Pro-Beijing lawmaker Regina Ip described the event as an “ice-breaker” and expressed hope that more similar gatherings will take place in the future.
None of those attending disclosed the details of the meeting, though Chung said Friday that they touched on a variety of topics, such as education, the environment, economic development and housing prices.
Lawmaker Wong Kwok-kin of the pro-Beijing Federation of Trade Unions asked the public not to “over-interpret” the event, though he said he understood society has a lot of expectation at the opposing camps to resolve their differences.
Only members of the Civic Party and Democratic Party from the pro-democracy camp attended Thursday’s lunch. Lawmakers advocating self-determination or localism were not present.
Wong was asked if he would be open to having lunch meetings with lawmakers advocating self-determination, a position rejected by Beijing and the Hong Kong government. The lawmaker replied: “I don’t think it is a sin in the eyes of Beijing, if everyone is willing to meet.”
“It’s fine as long as we don’t try to convince each other,” he added. “Yesterday’s lunch felt good because we just exchanged our views without trying to persuade anyone.”
Meanwhile, Civic Party lawmaker Alvin Yeung said: “Obviously Hong Kong politics will not become great overnight, but the lunch marked a first step towards resolving political conflicts.”
He added that it is “unfair” for some people to accuse the pro-democracy camp of refusing to cooperate with their opponents over every issue.
“Of course when it comes to political ideologies, it is very difficult – nearly impossible – to convince people with a different position,” he said. “But I think there is room for cooperation over some public policy issues.”
The political parties represented at Thursday’s lunch table included: the Civic Party, the Democratic Party, the pro-Beijing Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB), the New People’s Party, the Liberal Party, the Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong, and the Federation of Trade Unions.