Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has said that Chief Secretary Carrie Lam is not distracted from her official work, in response to rumours that she is preparing to run for Chief Executive.
“Secretary Lam is busy doing her duties every day,” Leung said ahead of the weekly Executive Council meeting. “I attend meetings for the government’s work with her every day. I work with her a lot. There is no issue of her being distracted.”
Leung said questions of whether Lam will resign and run for the position should be addressed by Lam herself.
Former executive councillor Ronald Arculli and barrister Laurence Li Lu-jen were rumoured to be the top aides for Lam’s upcoming campaign.
Arculli and Li respectively became the director and the secretary of a company called Wellink Development Limited on December 19 last year, ten days after Leung announced he will not seek a second term in office.
A website with the URL carrielam2017.hk was also registered by a Xeron Chan on January 6. Chan was reportedly a member of the campaigning team last year for Legislative Council candidate Gary Wong Chi-him of the group Path of Democracy, who was also tipped to join Lam’s team.
Leung said Financial Secretary John Tsang’s resignation – which has yet to be approved by Beijing after almost a month – will be handled in accordance with existing procedures.
Leung said the top three officials including Lam, Tsang and Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen all have different job roles, when asked about the potential effect on the administration if Lam also resigns.
“The departure of top government officials, especially two secretaries leaving, no matter how you look at it, from a practical standpoint, it will affect our work,” he said. He added that the government was busy drafting the policy address to be issued next week and the annual budget to be released next month.
“But we know there is a chief executive election in 2017. Therefore, if secretaries or other people want to serve as the chief executive for the new administration in 2017, we should not stop them from running.”
Meanwhile, Leung defended the controversial new Hong Kong Palace Museum at the West Kowloon Cultural District, a project led by Lam which was criticised for lack of public consultation before its announcement.
He said the construction of the museum will help the entire cultural district to increase its status locally and internationally, and improve the “cultural quality” of Hong Kong people.
He urged the public to participate in a six-week public consultation starting on Tuesday.
“However, after the procedures are completed, we cannot merely discuss and not make a decision – we need to move forward, to let Hong Kong people have a good place for cultural events and cultural life,” he said.
“I understand that the [Beijing] Palace Museum is very popular, I have often met many [Hong Kong] visitors at the Beijing Palace Museum, including young people,” he said. “When we have the Hong Kong Palace Museum, I believe Hong Kong people will often be in close contact with the Chinese culture, which has a long history.”
He added that he believed that “many big cities worldwide would welcome” the project if they had the same arrangement where the government provided land, charities provided funds, and the Palace Museum provided artifacts.