Why Carrie Lam must step down

July 29, 2019 11:29
Following her mishandling of the extradition bill issue and the subsequent protests by citizens, Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam has little political capital left, observers say. Photo: Bloomberg

The political conflicts and violent clashes sparked by the government's extradition bill are continuing to intensify in Hong Kong, growing to such an extent now that they are threatening the everyday life and even personal safety of the average citizen.

Like all residents of this city, I am deeply concerned about the current situation, and wondering what authorities should do to resolve the ongoing crisis.

Looking at the possible solutions, officially withdrawing the extradition bill immediately might help, though such action might be considered by some as being too little too late.

Another crucial measure to resolve the current mayhem would be to establish an independent commission of inquiry to find out the truth about the mass public events and police operations since June 9.

As far as enforcing accountability on principal officials is concerned, I believe making Justice Secretary Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah resign would be a viable option, one that would come at little political cost for the administration since even pro-establishment camp members don’t seem to have a good opinion of her.

That said, all these measures by themselves may not be sufficient to defuse the current calamity, in view of the appalling attacks by thugs against innocent civilians in Yuen Long on the night of July 21. 

Given the current charged atmosphere in the city, I believe the only way to assuage the public anger and mend social rifts right now is for the chief executive, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, to step down.

If that happens, Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung can serve as the acting chief executive in the short run.

Cheung is among the very handful of principal officials in the government whose popularity didn’t suffer much from the extradition bill saga.

Perceived as a less provocative and confrontational figure, Chueng can give Hong Kong a fresh start.

In the longer term, when it comes to deciding who is qualified to serve out the remaining term of the chief executive office until 2022, we must find someone who can facilitate dialogue among different sectors and help the society recover in order to guarantee peace and stability in the city.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on July 26

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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PhD student in economics at Stanford