Ever since Chief Executive Carrie Lam assumed office on July 1, she has been taking painstaking efforts to mend fences and facilitate reconciliation with the pan-democrats.
In fact, her relations with the opposition have improved dramatically during her first two weeks in office. The relationship would have continued to improve had it not been for the High Court decision to disqualify four localist lawmakers last Friday for failing to take their oath of office properly.
As it turns out, the court’s decision was equally devastating for both Lam and the pan-democrats, because it spelled a sudden and unexpected end to the “relaxed political atmosphere” which she had made every effort to create since Day One.
However, it is said that her predecessor, Leung Chun-ying, had predicted that even if there was a period of “relaxed political atmosphere”, it wouldn’t last long.
Leung’s prediction has proven prophetic just two weeks into Lam’s job as the new CE, which makes one wonder whether CY Leung is a true prophet of doom.
In the meantime, government sources said the administration was disappointed by the outcome of yesterday’s Legco financial committee meeting. A number of key funding bills failed to pass the committee before Legco takes its summer break, mainly because the meeting was disrupted by the pan-democrats.
Sources lamented that the opposition, no matter how discontented they might have been with the court decision, should not have stood in the way of public and livelihood issues such as the funding request for pay rises for civil servants and employees of government-subsidized institutions
On the other hand, sources said that while it might be too early to conclude that Carrie Lam’s reconciliation efforts have failed, the government has done everything it could to show its goodwill in the aftermath of the court decision.
For example, Lam publicly expressed in no uncertain terms that she has no intention to go after other pan-democratic lawmakers over the oath-taking issue, and that the government would not take advantage of the disarray in the opposition when to holding by-elections for vacant Legco seats.
Thus, it is entirely up to the pan-democrats to decide whether they want war or peace in the days ahead.
Lam will soon be visiting Beijing for the first time in her capacity as CE to report on her work, and it is believed that the central government is likely to scrutinize her progress in seeking reconciliation.
Given that, she could be desperate for a solution to the political standoff with the pan-democrats, or else the continued impasse could give rise to the hawks and hard-liners again.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on July 20
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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