Chief Executive Carrie Lam has said that almost HK$9 million was recently spent on renovations at Government House, though the alterations were not done upon her request.

Lam said the building, which is her official residence and a declared monument, was renovated over two months before she moved in. The Architectural Services Department and the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department conduct the maintenance work every time there is a change in chief executive, she said.

Lam was speaking to reporters ahead of a banquet with lawmakers at the residence on Monday.

Government House. Photo: GovHK.

The HK$8.98 million works were related to maintenance, she said: “My family and I live on the second floor, where no works were carried out during this project. I did not ask for any internal improvements, internal renovations or re-partitioning – nothing.”

But Lam added that HK$980,000 was spent on constructing a sitting-out area on one of the two tennis courts: “When Government House has an open day or the honours and awards ceremony this week, there will be one more location for guests to take photos, from where they can take a photo of the entire front door -that’s all,” she said.

Lam does not own property in Hong Kong. However, her spouse owns an apartment and a parking space in Zhongshan, China for his own use.

The sitting-out area at the Government House.

More discussions urged

Ten pro-democracy lawmakers were among those who attended the banquet.

Wu Chi-wai, leader of the Democratic Party, said he raised three items: restarting the political reform process, potential collusion with developers in the new Starter Homes scheme, and the denial of entry of British human rights activist Benedict Rogers.

After the banquet, Wu quoted Lam as saying that the Chinese State Council declared Rogers’ case to be a foreign affairs matter: “It could only [be handled] like that.”

Civic Party leader Alvin Yeung said Lam must mend the rifts in society: “She cannot sweep it under the carpet.”

“Of course we can’t easily convince her today… but we will continue observing her attitude in the future,” he said.

Pro-democracy lawmakers at the Government House.

Education sector lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen said he raised the issue of scrapping the controversial Basic Competency Assessments for primary three students to the Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung.

Ip and social welfare sector lawmaker Shiu Ka-chun also raised the issue of student suicides.

Charles Mok, convener of the camp, said the event was a form of regular exchange between the camp and the administration.

“I think this is a normal kind of interaction. Obviously the format doesn’t allow us to get a lot of clear answers on specific policies,” he said.

“And I think certainly, in addition to this kind of more social type of inter-exchange, we need more opportunities to sit down actually with the chief executive and her principal officials to try to get all our messages across… in a way that we can spend more time, they can spend more time to explain the policies to us and answer our questions.”

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.