Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on Saturday that she and celebrity Andy Lau “became targets for cyberbullying” over her land reclamation proposal. Lau had previously appeared in a promotional video supporting the plan.
Lam was speaking at an education symposium at the University of Hong Kong, and said the government was concerned about young people’s online behaviour.
“In recent years, the information explosion created by social media has been affecting young people’s values, and many countries have been troubled by issues like online gaming addiction and cyberbullying,” she said.
“For example, I myself and Mr. Andy Lau have become targets for cyberbullying because of the same issue,” she added, implicitly referring to the reclamation plan. “I believe that people such as hackers, who have technological skills but lack morality, pose a threat to society.”
Lam’s Lantau Tomorrow Vision reclamation plan, first proposed in her policy address earlier this month, will involve building artificial islands off the coast of Lantau Island with the expectation of housing up to 1.1 million people.
The plan has been widely criticised for its environmental impact and cost, which local media estimated to be between HK$500 billion and HK$1 trillion.
Days before her policy address announcement, Lau narrated a promotional video by the Our Hong Kong Foundation, a pro-establishment think tank led by former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa. The Foundation had proposed a reclamation plan similar to what was eventually adopted by the government.
“It is true there are many ways to increase the land supply,” Lau said. “But to solve the long-term housing problem, I think a large-scale artificial island off East Lantau would seem to be most preferable among the options out there.”
“I know that when it comes to reclamation there are many different opinions. But is there ever a 100 per cent perfect solution?” he added.
Lau, a singer-actor nicknamed the “people’s chief executive,” was ridiculed on social media after the video was published, with some saying that he was protecting the interest of land developers.
University professor and social commentator Chung Kim-wah said that Lam used the term cyberbullying incorrectly, and that the concept was not applicable to public figures and political leaders.
Pro-democracy camp lawmaker Claudia Mo said Lam pushed for land reclamation without considering public opinion and the land supply task force, saying: “Who do you think is bullying who?”
Lam’s comments on Saturday were not the first time she referred to Andy Lau’s support of reclamation. During her policy address question-and-answer session, she said she did not coordinate with Lau in advance but was “shocked” that the video closely resembled her own plan.
She added at the time that the online comments on Lau amounted to “personal attacks” and were unfair.