CE shouldn’t face excessive restrictions: Carrie Lam

Carrie Lam on Saturday said Hong Kong’s Chief Executive shouldn’t be subject to, what she called, excessive legal restrictions and public accountability, otherwise the special constitutional status of the post would be undermined.

Lam was defending her decision to renege on her election promise to amend sections three and eight of the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance to cover the Chief Executive. The sections regulate the acceptance of advantages.

Speaking on an RTHK programme, she noted that when the CE was discharging her duties, the law could be used against her, adding that she was twice questioned by the anti-graft body, the ICAC, during her election campaign.

The Hong Kong leader said she had decided not to amend the law after gaining a deeper understanding of the One Country, Two Systems principle, the Chinese constitution, the Basic Law and the relationship between the CE and the central government.

“If the [Chief Executive] is subject to excessive restrictions under local law – of course I have to be punished if I have killed somebody – or excessive public accountability, it will directly affect the CE’s constitutional functions,” she said.

However, Lam said she was not saying she was above the law and it also didn’t mean she wasn’t subject to regulations. She said the central government would be monitoring the conduct of the Chief Executive and wouldn’t tolerate corruption.

During the one-hour-long programme, Lam also dismissed claims that her administration was “harbouring” three senior security officials who were accused of accepting a lavish hotpot dinner, reportedly from a mainland developer.

“Are we asking too much of officials, if we require them to be someone like myself, who has no social life?” she said, reiterating that the administration wouldn’t follow up on the dinner.

She insisted that the incident shouldn’t be compared with her calling for action against University of Hong Kong student leaders after they passed a motion that “thanked” a man for his “sacrifice” after he stabbed a policeman on July 1, before stabbing himself and later dying.

Last week, members of the union’s council retracted the motion, apologised, and resigned their positions after widespread criticism.

Lam pointed out that university students weren’t children and there should be a consensus among society that – regardless of one’s political belief – sympathising or glorifying someone who had tried to take a policeman’s life should not be condoned, and rather it was these people who should be condemned.

“Anyone who isn’t adopting the same position is, in some degree, tolerating this inhumane act,” she said.

On Friday, security police raided the student union’s office.