Chief Executive Carrie Lam has said she feels pride, and no regrets over the 2019 extradition bill row, as her tenure comes to a close.

“Everything comes to an end. I feel greatly relieved… Whatever happens in Hong Kong after July 1 is none of my business, you can’t imagine how relaxed I feel,” she told Commercial Radio on Sunday, according to RTHK.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam. File Photo: GovHK.

Lam added she felt proud of her efforts to develop Hong Kong, but felt that a “great burden” was being lifted from her shoulders after a “roller-coaster” term.

She said her ambitions were stalled by Covid-19 and the 2019 protests and unrest.

‘No mistake’ on extradition bill

On Saturday, during an RTHK radio show, Lam said she had no regrets about pushing a bill in 2019 that would have allowed extradition to China. Millions of protesters poured onto the streets in opposition, according to organisers, and months of unrest followed.

“I do not think the government made a mistake in introducing this bill,” Lam said. “Whenever we faced something that could be used to challenge the country and touch its bottom line, the opposition forces would come out, and come out stronger every time.”

She made reference to the 2003 security law protests, the 2014 pro-democracy Umbrella Movement street occupations and the 2019 unrest.

Lam said the government did a poor job of explaining the issue in the face of “overwhelming” propaganda.

A protest on June 26, 2019. Photo: Ng Tin Hung.

The incumbent leader’s stance on 2019 has shifted several times since the months-long unrest. On June 18 that year, she offered a “sincere, solemn” personal apology: “I personally have to shoulder much of the responsibility. This has led to controversies, disputes and anxieties in society.”

On September 2, 2019, Reuters revealed that Lam had told business leaders that she had wrought “unforgiveable havoc” on the city, and made “a plea to you for your forgiveness.”

Current Chief Executive Carrie Lam and Chief Executive-elect John Lee. Photo: GovHK.

During Lam’s tumultuous tenure, US sanctions were imposed on local leaders – including herself. The city also saw rising poverty and one of the world’s highest Covid-19 death rates on Lam’s watch.

As for her future plans, she said she would not set up a think-tank but will take some rest after her retirement.

Chief Executive-elect John Lee will take the reins in 18 days after winning a one-man small-circle election.

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Tom is the editor-in-chief and founder of Hong Kong Free Press. He has a BA in Communications and New Media from Leeds University and an MA in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong. He has contributed to the BBC, Euronews, Al-Jazeera and others.