Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has said that it is not common for political leaders to form cabinets before being elected themselves. He was responding to a television interview with Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor in which she discussed how ministers are gathered to form a political cabinet.

Lam appeared on a Now TV political talk show last Saturday, where she spoke about the relationship between the future Chief Executive and the team of cabinet members, ahead of the elections in March next year.

“If I can vote for the Chief Executive, I would want to know roughly who is in the cabinet,” Lam said. “But in reality, we lack political talent – whomever is interested in running as Chief Executive, can he form the cabinet to show the voters?… I think it’s difficult.”

Carrie Lam
Carrie Lam. File Photo: Gov HK.

In response, the host Allen Lee Peng-fei said that young people were not satisfied with the current cabinet, which made the political situation in Hong Kong seemingly chaotic.

Lam told Lee that she also hoped potential cabinet members could be named during future election periods, as Lee had suggested.

“In a politically appointed team, it is important that they have a common ideal… not everyone having his or her own ideal,” she said. “[I]t should not be the case that members only know each other after the cabinet is formed.”

“I am not afraid to say that in the current administration, I only knew some members after it was formed – there was a bit of difficulty,” she added.

Leung Chun-ying.
Leung Chun-ying. File Photo: Gov HK.

Not common

Leung Chun-ying said on Tuesday that it would be best if the cabinet was already formed when Chief Executive candidates ran for election, so that voters can choose.

“It would be the ideal situation, but as we look at practical situations in foreign countries, usually the cabinet would be formed only after a government leader was elected,” he said.

He cited Taiwanese newspapers as saying how the newly elected president Tsai Ing-wen would only form the cabinet as late as April 20, a month before she would be sworn into office on May 20.

He added that Hong Kong was special as major officials needed to be appointed by the central government.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.