Hong Kong Cardinal John Tong has asked Chief Executive-elect Carrie Lam to push forward with Hong Kong’s democratic reform.

Tong on Tuesday wrote to Lam, a Catholic herself, to congratulate her on her victory and to express four expectations from the Catholic church in the city.

Cardinal John Tong
Cardinal John Tong. Photo: Catholic Church.

Tong said the church follows the “social teachings” of the pope and attaches great importance to the significance of democratic elections.

“The Diocese has observed that the base of voters of the current Chief Executive Election is far from being able to achieve a degree of universal participation, given the limitations incurred by historical reasons,” Tong wrote in a letter seen by HKFP.

“However, I hope that in your term, you can promote the democratic process in Hong Kong in order that the Special Administrative Region will eventually achieve the goal of universal suffrage.”

Lam was selected with 777 vote from a 1,194-member small-circle election committee. Lam, in her election manifesto, did not make any pledge to reboot democratic reform in order to achieve genuine universal suffrage.

Poor and underprivileged

Tong said the Diocese is committed to serving the needy in society, with particular emphasis on the principle of “preferential option for the poor.”

“So far, we have always been willing to collaborate with the Hong Kong Government to maintain a positive and fruitful partnership, for the goodwill of the people of Hong Kong,” Tong wrote. “Also, when called upon to be critical of certain social policies, we will continue to be ‘a friend who will give forthright admonition’ to the local Government.”

election 2017 chief executive
Photo: GovHK.

Lam pledged to unite society during her acceptance speech on Sunday.

Tong said he hoped the new administration, which takes office on July 1, will encourage a free airing of views, listen to voices from all sides, and promote the unity and progress of society.

During Lam’s campaign, she had pledged to study of possibility of launching a “religious affairs unit” to coordinate religious policies. She dropped the idea after criticism from the church.

“Our Diocese hopes that the new SAR Government, as has been the case in the past, will continue to protect the local people’s freedom of religious belief, freedom of expression and a pluralism in running schools, as well as respect the Church’s marriage and family values,” Tong wrote.

“May God bless you, your family, friends and co-workers!”

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng

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.