Ronny Tong, a newly-appointed member of Carrie Lam’s administration, has praised the conduct of Lam and pro-democracy lawmakers in a legislative session, saying the relationship between the chief executive and the camp showed signs of improving.

Tong, a former pro-democracy lawmaker, returned to LegCo on Wednesday as a member of cabinet, sitting in the top gallery.

He said the pro-democracy lawmakers exercised a level of restraint and sincerity during the Legislative Council question and answer session, which was the first time Lam attended a Council meeting as chief executive.

ronny tong
Ronny Tong speaking to reporters at LegCo. Photo: HKFP/Catherine Lai.

“During the question and answer session, they sounded even more polite than the pro-Beijing camp,” he said. “I am happy to see that, at least in the eyes of the public, the pro-democracy camp’s relationship with the chief executive seems to be improving.”

Pro-democracy lawmaker “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung was the only one who protested during the meeting. He criticised Lam for not pledging to implement an universal pension scheme, and for not contacting him when she was setting up meetings with lawmakers. He was kicked out of the chamber by the LegCo president as he failed to sit down after he was asked to do so.

Tong said that many pro-democracy camp members stood up when Lam entered the chamber as a sign of respect. The camp refused to do so when her predecessor Leung Chun-ying attended LegCo meetings.

Tong is one of six members of the Executive Council who attended the meeting on Wednesday. “I am a little not used to it,” he said. “But I am happy, happy to see the [LegCo] security guard colleagues.”

Ronny Tong
Ronny Tong (right). Photo: HKFP.

He said the government must now resolve the conflict in society before any political reform can be discussed.

“When we have a suitable environment, I can assure you, as a member of the Executive Council, I will be the first one urging the government to restart political reform,” he said.

Tong said he understood that the issue of reopening Civic Square – a popular protest site in front of the Government Headquarters – will be handled as soon as possible.

Carrie Lam Legislative Council LegCo
Photo: Kris Cheng/HKFP.

Tong also noted that Lam stood next to the LegCo president, unlike her predecessor Leung Chun-ying, who often stood in front of the president.

“The previous CE… gives perhaps people a sense that he is trying to project his superior image,” he said. “I think after all when chief executive comes to LegCo, he or she comes as a guest – there should be sufficient respect.”

“I think it is a sufficient indication that she wishes to project a new and respectful image, and that is something I entirely endorse.”

cy leung chun-ying
CY Leung. Photo: Legislative Council.

Tong said Lam certainly has room to improve.

“This is only the fifth day of the new administration, so let’s wait and see,” he said.

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.