The pro-democracy camp has warned that Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s combative style might “return and haunt” Hong Kong society, as the city’s number 2 official Carrie Lam resigned from her post on Thursday. She is widely expected to run for Hong Kong’s top job.

“Starting from this second, Hong Kong people will have a genuine fear and concern about the return of CY Leung’s governance style,” said the Democratic Party’s lawmaker James To on Thursday.

james to
James To. File Photo: Stanley Leung/HKFP.

“I hope that Carrie Lam, if she’s really considering a run for chief executive, will reflect on whether Hongkongers prefer CY Leung’s style and whether she may, in the next five or ten years, make people continue to suffer from his way of running the government.”

Lam previously said that she intended to continue Leung’s governance style. Despite declaring that she would retire after her current term, Lam reversed her position after Leung made a surprise announcement last month, saying that he would not seek re-election.

‘Open and fair election’

To also lamented Beijing’s ability to manipulate local elections: “The central government has great influence over the small circle election in Hong Kong – not just by influencing the election committee, but also by having the power to decide whether and when one is allowed to resign in order to join the race.”

He added that it is possible that Finance Secretary John Tsang would “never be allowed to resign.” Tsang resigned from his post last month, though his departure has yet to be approved by Beijing.

Carrie Lam CY Leung
Carrie Lam (L), CY Leung (R). File Photos: GovHK/RTHK.

To said the Chinese government owed Hong Kong society an explanation about Tsang’s resignation. “It needs to explain what exactly happened, whether we will have a fair election, and where the credibility of this already flawed small circle election lies,” he said.

The Civic Party’s lawmaker Alvin Yeung said that Lam appeared to be a “copy” of Leung. “We don’t want to see CY Leung number 2 in the near future while divisions run deep in Hong Kong.”

Unsatisfactory performance

Six functional constituency lawmakers from the pro-democracy camp also said Thursday that they would oppose Lam if she ran for chief executive, citing her intention to adopt Leung’s combative style as well as her unsatisfactory performance during her time as the head of the Social Welfare Department.

Veteran journalist and political commentator Lai Chak-fun said that all factions in the opposition camp would agree that it is in Hong Kong’s interest to reject anyone who intends to take on Leung’s governance style.

Chief executive candidate and ex-judge Woo Kwok-hing previously said that he did not understand why Lam would want to follow in Leung’s footsteps, as it would almost certainly cost her support.

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