Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam has apologized to dozens of representatives of the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions (HKFTU), a pro-establishment political group, for having dragged down their performance in the District Council election last month.
The setback for the pro-establishment camp in the District Council elections on November 24 was a direct result of the public’s anti-government sentiment, Lam said Tuesday before the Executive Council’s weekly meeting.
“A lot of voters did not value the pro-establishment candidates’ work in their districts but purely wanted to express their dissatisfaction against the government,” Lam said. It was the right thing for her to publicly or privately apologize to the pro-establishment candidates who lost the election, she said.
The government would continue to work with the political parties that had served in Hong Kong for a long time, instead of treating them as strangers, Lam said. It would listen to their opinions and consider their advice, she said.
However, Lam refused to comment on whether those who lost the District Council election would be given any public duties.
On November 24, a total of 2.94 million Hong Kong people, or 71% of all registered voters, elected 452 new District Councillors. The pro-democracy camp won 385 seats, or 85% of all the seats, and 17 chairman positions in 18 District Councils.
The Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB), a pro-establishment political party, saw its number of seats drop to 21 from about 120. The Democratic Party became the largest political party in the city with 91 seats in the District Council.
The HKFTU’s Alice Mak Mei-kuen, who failed to renew her term after serving in Kwai Tsing district for 26 years, was the first person from the pro-establishment camp to blame the Hong Kong government and Lam for the setback.
She complained that pro-establishment candidates had faced unfair treatment during the election as their past efforts in serving the needs of local residents were ignored by many voters, who focused only on political issues.
On Monday, Lam made an apology to a dozen HKFTU representatives at an indoor meeting, saying the government had dragged down their performance in the District Council election, the Sing Tao Daily reported.
Lam also promised that the government would grant them some positions in official organizations such as the Fight Crime Committee and Commission on Poverty, according to the report.
Lam will meet more pro-establishment District Councillors, who either failed to renew their terms or decided to retire, in Government House on December 21 after she reports to Chinese leaders in Beijing on December 16 and attends a ceremony for the 20th anniversary of the Macau Special Administrative Region on December 20.
However, some pro-establishment people said they would not attend the meeting as they wanted to keep a distance from Lam, who has a low popularity rating.
On December 6, Chris Ip Ngo-tung, a Deputy Secretary-General of the DAB and the current Chairman in the Yau Tsim Mong District Council, was appointed by the Chief Executive as one of 29 members of the Travel Industry Authority, effective from January 1, 2020, for two years. Ip failed to renew his term in the District Council elections last month.
The central government could replace some senior officials in the Hong Kong government before Christmas, including Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung, Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng, Secretary for Security John Lee and Secretary for Home Affairs Lau Kong-wah, the Apple Daily reported on Tuesday, citing unnamed sources.
Beijing was not happy about the setback suffered by the pro-establishment camp in the District Council elections and the fact that hundreds of thousands of people continued to rally on the streets last Sunday, according to the report.
Lam said Tuesday that any reports about a possible reshuffle of her cabinet were only rumors and speculation. She said her top priority now was to end the violent protests.
On Sunday, the Civil Human Rights Front organized a large scale march on Hong Kong Island. They said a total of 800,000 people showed up for the peaceful rally, while the police said there were 183,000 at its peak.