Fri, May 05, 2017 - Page 5 News List

Lam promises ‘return to normal’

MANIFESTO:Hong Kong chief-executive elect Carrie Lam said she plans to prioritize the aspirations and ‘unhappiness’ of young people without offering new specifics

Reuters, HONG KONG

Hong Kong chief-executive elect Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥) yesterday vowed to heal political and social divides, pledging to return the global financial hub to its “normal course of development.”

Lam takes office on July 1 after being selected in March amid widespread concern that Beijing’s meddling had sealed her victory and denied the former British colony a more popular leader.

The former Hong Kong chief secretary for administration replaces her former boss, Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying (梁振英), an unpopular leader widely viewed in the territory as too eager to please the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leadership.

CCP leaders are increasingly fearful that a fledgling independence or secessionist movement in Hong Kong could spread, and a Beijing official based in the territory warned over the weekend that further trouble could threaten its vaunted autonomy.

Hong Kong was promised widespread freedoms and legal protections under a “one country, two systems” formula agreed when Britain handed it back to China in 1997.

Acknowledging tension and restive youth, Lam said she was aware of the territory’s problems and deeply polarized views.

“I will do my utmost to unify society and to bring Hong Kong back to its normal course of development, because I think that is the aspiration of the great majority of Hong Kong people,” said Lam, who is to become the territory’s first female leader.

She said her election manifesto had emphasized the need to address the aspirations and “unhappiness” of young people with greater opportunities and upward mobility.

“So together with my team from July 1, that is going to be one of our policy priorities,” she said.

Lam offered no fresh specifics on any new policies or views on political reform, but has previously said that unifying society was a key goal, besides improving livelihoods and the territory’s troubled governance.

Many pro-democracy opposition and activists were opposed to Lam’s selection by a 1,200-person election panel stacked with pro-Beijing and pro-establishment loyalists, who spurned the more popular candidate, former Hong Kong secretary of finance John Tsang (曾俊華).

She faces widespread fears that Hong Kong’s freedoms are under threat and must tackle soaring property prices that are, in part, driving divisions and widening an extreme wealth gap.

Part of the public mistrust of Lam stems from her previously close working ties with Leung, who in late 2014 ordered tear gas to be fired at pro-democracy protesters during the long-running Occupy Central movement.

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