BEIJING placed Hong Kong’s economy at the top of chief executive-elect Carrie Lam’s to-do list as she received her appointment order from China’s Premier Li Keqiang on Tuesday to serve as Hong Kong’s next leader beginning on July 1.
During the ceremony, held in Zhongnanhai, the central government leadership compound in Beijing, Li effectively provided Lam a list of key areas of focus for her five-year term in office.
“The central government will support the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government to develop the economy and improve people’s livelihood,” Li said, as reported by South China Morning Post.
“I hope I will be able to see Hong Kong develop and the livelihoods of its people improve.” – Li
He also pressed the need to unite the new government and all sectors of society after a particularly divisive election period.
“I believe and hope you can unite and lead the new government of the Hong Kong SAR – and all sectors of society – to reach a new stage in accordance with One Country, Two Systems and the Basic Law,” said Li, after handing Lam the State Council appointment order encased in a wooden frame.
Lam won the election on March 26 despite coming second in popular opinion polls. Most of Hong Kong’s 7.3 million voters have no say in their choice of leader, with ballots being cast only by a select election committee comprised of 1,194 of the city’s elite.
The bizarre approach to voting left many Hong Kong people feeling dismayed. When Lam won over firm favourite, John Tsang, many were angered.
Lam was a Beijing favourite and enjoyed strong establishment support from the election committee, securing her a convincing majority on election day.
Lam said she was honoured to receive the certificate appointment and expressed her gratitude for the support from Beijing.
“As the premier has said, it is a very huge responsibility. I will fully implement the constitutional responsibility of the chief executive in the coming five years – not only be held accountable to the Hong Kong SAR government but also to the central government,” she said.
Local newspaper HK01 (via HKFP) observed the phrase “develop democracy” was notably missing from Li’s speech during his open-door meeting with Lam. The two previous appointments to chief executive both received encouragement from then-Premier Wen Jiabao to work towards that end.
Lam did not pledge in her manifesto to restart the process of political reform for universal suffrage, noting the failed exercise, which ended in 2015, had seriously damaged Hong Kong society and encouraged divisiveness. She promised only to create a favourable atmosphere to take reform forward within the framework handed down by Beijing.
In 2012, former Hong Kong chief executive Leung Chun-ying was advised during his swearing-in to maintain a clean government amid an outbreak of corruption scandals surrounding the city’s top officials and to promote democratic development.
The year 2007 also saw then-Chinese premier Wen recognise Donald Tsang Yam-kuen’s election pledge to advance democracy when appointing him.