Chief Executive Carrie Lam has said she is sorry for causing inconvenience to the Democratic Party and anxiety among the pro-establishment camp, after she made a HK$30,000 donation to the pro-democracy party.
Lam attended the party’s 23rd anniversary dinner last week and made the donation after the party’s former lawmaker Fred Li sang a song onstage. After the event, Lam’s Instagram account posted a photo of the event with the hashtags “Democratic Party” and “the great reconciliation.”
Controversy ensued as the Democratic Party denied there was any reconciliation, whilst some pro-Beijing lawmakers criticised Lam as setting a bad precedent.
Lam said it was a normal gathering: “As the chief executive, if I am invited to such a banquet, I will attend, unless it is a pro-independence party, then I am out.”
“The HK$30,000 donation was a human and friendly act. The atmosphere was friendly, as you know – I have known Fred Li for more than 20 years,” she said.
She said Li told her that his song was for her: “Pay attention to the lyrics.” Li had already received HK$270,000 in donations, and asked if people could help make it HK$300,000.
“I waited for a while and no one raised their hands, then I naturally supported my friend. Just that,” Lam said.
“I am sorry for causing inconvenience to the Democratic Party and for causing anxiety to the pro-establishment camp,” she said with a smile.
She said the phrase “great reconciliation” was written by a staff member at her office who was handling her Instagram account.
“[The staffer] apologised to me for writing the phrase without my permission. I believe the phrase was inappropriate. I do not have any great hatred with political parties that would require a great reconciliation.”
“I will pay attention to the relationship between the administration and the legislature, and to the interaction with parties.”
“But I understand that if society wants the chief executive to be more careful, and have less human behaviour, I will have more restraint.”
Lam said it was not the first time she showed a friendlier side to the pro-democracy camp. She cited an instance in which she came out of government headquarters to receive a letter from lawmaker Fernando Cheung for patients with rare diseases on a Sunday. The interaction had no prior arrangement.
“Society has expectations that, as chief executive, I am not just representing a certain party in governing Hong Kong,” she said.