Hong Kong leadership contender Carrie Lam has said she will “extend the good policies” of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s current government.
The former chief secretary’s resignation was approved by Beijing on Monday. Hours later, she hosted a press conference announcing her run.
Lam said that she would definitely not run had Leung decided to run for a second term.
“Good policies are worthwhile, and should be, extended,” she said, listing policies on housing, poverty alleviation, elderly people, and environment. “I cannot see, and cannot hear, opinions from society saying that these policies should not be extended.”
She said “good governance” may be even harder to achieve than good policies.
“For instance, we need to conduct more public engagement, create a harmonious society, be more inclusive, have a higher transparency,” she said.
When she was asked what the current government has done badly, and what policies she will not continue, she said: “I don’t think whoever is running should run on the basis of criticising the current government. The policies of every administration [in the past] were not perfect, every administration – as we look back – could do better. We should look ahead.”
She said many pro-democracy lawmakers think she is an official who can communicate with them, when asked about criticism from the opposition camp.
“I will follow my goal of good governance to communicate with different parties – I of course welcome people from different parties to work with the government,” she said.
Should she be elected, Lam said she will review the governing team to ensure good governance, whilst pledging to add new blood to the team.
She said she met with central government officials recently, but had not sought “appointment” by Beijing: “I do not only face a 1,194-election committee members for their votes, I face seven million people of Hong Kong. I deeply understand if I do not have support from the masses, governance in the future will still be difficult.”
Asked about whether she will legislate Article 23 of the Basic Law – the national security law that failed to be passed in 2003 after mass protests – she said it was a constitutional responsibility.
“However under the current situation, even the [amendments] to the Medical Registration Ordinance – which was supported by the whole of society – has failed to pass at the Legislative Council,” she said. “All of the government should conduct legislative work after observing the situation.”
Former Executive Councillor Ronald Arculli, who has strong business ties, was rumoured to be part of Lam’s team, though he did not appear at the press conference on Monday.
Asked if Arculli’s ties with the business sector meant Li Ka-shing – Hong Kong’s richest man – would support her, Lam said she has known Arculli personally for many years and had no links to anyone around him.
She denied once again that she supports socialism when asked about about her welfare policy, saying that the government has a role to reduce the wealth gap.
A final question at the press conference was about political reform in Hong Kong, She said she was in a leading position in 2015 when she was Chief Secretary. The proposal failed in light of opposition from the pro-democracy camp.
“Had we succeeded, we would have one-person-one-vote in this election of chief executive,” she said. “So my position now on [the] political reform matter, is we have to be very pragmatic… on whether we have a right environment for us to revive the discussion.”