21 January 2020
Chief Executive Carrie Lam "remains committed to serving the people of Hong Kong", her office said. Photo: Bloomberg
Chief Executive Carrie Lam "remains committed to serving the people of Hong Kong", her office said. Photo: Bloomberg

Lam has never offered to quit over protests, CE office says

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has never offered to quit over the massive protests against her now-suspended extradition bill, her office said, denying a Financial Times report.

In a report headlined “Hong Kong chief Carrie Lam offered to step down over protests” on Sunday, the newspaper cited “two people with direct knowledge of the situation” as saying that Lam “has offered to resign on several occasions in recent weeks” over the demonstrations in the city, but added that her request was turned down by Beijing.

Many Hong Kong people who oppose the legislation, which woud allow extradition to the mainland, have been demanding that Lam step down even after she admitted last week that government work on the legislation was “a total failure” and that “the bill is dead”.

The FT sources said “[t]he situation has escalated into” the “deepest political crisis” in Hong Kong since the handover in 1997, “prompting [Lam]’s offer to stand down over her handling of the bill”.

But Beijing has insisted Lam “has to stay to clean up the mess she created”, the newspaper quoted one person with direct knowledge of the situation as saying. “No one else can clean up the mess and no one else wants the job.”

The bill was Lam’s initiative and not Beijing’s, the sources added.

In its report, FT also quoted the Chief Executive’s Office, which stressed Lam has “made it clear in public that she remains committed to serving the people of Hong Kong”. The Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office did not respond to a request for comment.

In response to an inquiry from the Hong Kong Economic Journal, the office dismissed as “totally false” the FT report that Lam had asked Being to approve her resignation, saying she has never once done so.

The office also firmly asserted that it is not worried that the ability of the chief executive and her administration to govern and its governance would be affected by the report.

During a closed-door meeting, Lam told members of the Friends of Hong Kong Association in late June that she would definitely not resign so as not to bring Beijing more troubles, according to one of the attendees.

Lau Siu-kai, vice-president of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, said he could not comment on the FT report because the sources were hardly identifiable.

Lau said that as far he knew, Lam would want to pick herself up from where she had fallen so that she could prove her capabilities and be recognized in history instead of just quitting the post or leaving her mess to others.

If Lam had indeed offered to resign, that would only be a normal expression of her will to shoulder political responsibilities, Lau added.

The political commentator also pointed out that he could not believe Beijing would not continue to back Lam, noting that letting her stay as Hong Kong leader can help stabilize society and prevent political turbulence from getting worse.

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