Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has shrugged off veiled criticism from a cabinet member that power causes a negative impact on individuals, insisting her aspirations have never changed and that she will stay humble in listening to public opinion.
Lam was responding to comments from labour and welfare minister Law Chi-kwong, who earlier said “power brings great negative impact on individuals” when he was asked in a TV interview about the changes he had noticed in Lam over the years.
“Power brings great negative impact on individuals, and I keep reminding myself and my friends about this,” Law, the only cabinet member with an opposition background, said in the interview, which aired on Friday.
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Lam on Tuesday morning brushed aside the veiled attack when asked to comment on Law’s remarks ahead of her weekly cabinet meeting.
“I didn’t notice secretary Law was talking about me. I thought he was talking about himself, as he may have some feelings after joining the government as a politician,” Lam said.
“For me, my original aspiration has been serving the public. I will listen to public opinion with a more humble attitude and continue to work hard for the future of Hong Kong.”
In the interview, Law, a former lawmaker who quit the Democratic Party to join the government in 2017, said he had known Lam for decades, seeing how she rose through the ranks from a department head to a bureau chief, then to the city’s top role.
“As your authority grows, others stop arguing with you … then you should be alarmed,” he said, refraining from directly pointing to Lam but making a general observation about people in power.
Law on Tuesday said he had no comment on Lam’s remarks.
Lam also dismissed allegations that Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah’s recent decision to intervene and block two private prosecutions related to the anti-government protests had been politically motivated.
“To sort of allege that the secretary for justice is making [politically based] interventions is totally unfair and inappropriate, because by doing so, you are also casting doubt and disrespect on Hong Kong’s judiciary,” she said, adding that she could not go into further details about the cases, as all prosecution matters fell under the purview of the justice minister.
The chief executive’s comments came after the Department of Justice decided to step in and end legal proceedings brought against an officer who shot a protester and a taxi driver accused of ramming his cab into a crowd of demonstrators during last year’s unrest.
After reviewing reports compiled by an independent police investigation team, a representative for the department said it had come to the conclusion that the cases – initiated by opposition lawmaker Ted Hui Chi-fung – had no reasonable chance of leading to convictions.
The two private prosecution bids were eventually thrown out by a court that approved the justice department’s request on Monday.
But legal scholar Eric Cheung Tat-ming, of the University of Hong Kong, said it was hard to convince people that political considerations were not involved, as the department did not disclose whether it had followed convention by seeking legal opinion from outside on politically sensitive cases.
“Justice must not only be done, but must be manifestly seen to be done,” he said.
“So it’s very important for the public to have confidence that the decision is purely based on evidence, and not on political considerations.”
More from South China Morning Post:
- ‘I considered resigning over protests’: Hong Kong’s labour minister and only cabinet member with opposition background
- Hong Kong justice minister moves to end private prosecution over taxi driver accused of ramming protesters