Former chief secretary Anson Chan has censured her successor Carrie Lam for pushing through the controversial Hong Kong Palace Museum project without public consultation.

Likening Lam’s decision-making process to a “black box,” Chan said on Tuesday that Lam behaved like “another CY Leung” even before she formally announces her bid for Hong Kong’s top leadership position.

Anson Chan. File Photos: Apple Daily/HKFP.

“The biggest issue with the current administration is the increasing lack of transparency,” Chan said. “The project was a good idea. Aren’t you turning a good thing into a bad thing by handling the case in such a manner?”

“Carrie Lam is such an experienced official. She couldn’t possibly have believed that Hongkongers would accept the ‘mainland way’ of doing things – the government tells you what they have decided on and goes ahead regardless of public opinion,” she said.

“But Hongkongers are different. They have agreed on a set procedure and mechanism. Why did you have to bypass the mechanism?”

Chan added that people in Hong Kong are not against the construction of the museum, but rather against the secrecy surrounding the project and the lack of public consultation.

She also questioned Lam’s decision to engage an architect without tender and before the project was presented to the board members of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority.

A protest was staged at Central station against the Palace Museum project. Photo: Melissa Maize.

On Saturday, the authority admitted following investigative newswire FactWire’s exposé that an architect was appointed without tender to design the museum and was apparently working on the project in June, months before government officials formally presented the proposal to the board members of the authority.

According to FactWire, the Hong Kong Jockey Club agreed to put in a HK$3.5 billion donation as funding for the project in October.

The authority said Monday that it would postpone the launch of the six-week public consultation period for the project until Tuesday.

Ellie Ng

Ellie Ng has written for Foreign Policy, the Daily Telegraph, Global Voices Online and others.