Tuesday, December 10, 2013, 09:15
Threat of violence unacceptable: Lam
By Kahon chan in Hong Kong

Most HK people prefer peaceful means, chief secretary says

Threats of violence are completely unacceptable to both her and the public, Chief Secretary for Administration Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said, after a lawmaker threatened to throw a petrol bomb at her on Monday.  

The threat was made by Wong Yuk-man at a special meeting of the Legislative Council Panel on Constitutional Affairs. At the meeting, Wong disputed the constitutional framework outlined by Carrie Lam. He told Lam that instead of having eggs thrown at her she deserved to face “petrol bombs” during a “revolution”.

Lam told the press after the meeting that threats of violence were “completely unacceptable” to her and to the public. “Most Hong Kong people are very rational and pragmatic. They prefer peaceful means to express their views,” she said.

She said “appropriate action” would be taken if Wong makes more remarks which threaten her physical safety.

However, legislator’s remarks made at LegCo meetings were protected by the Basic Law and the privilege ordinance from any civil or criminal proceedings.

In response to Wong’s remark, the CE said at the sidelines of a luncheon on Monday that “violence” would not help formulate election procedures for the 2017 election. “We need a peaceful and accommodating process of consultation,” he added.

In mature democracies, direct dialogue between the public and government officials should not be obstructed by activists as had occurred over the weekend. Leung said his administration would continue to hold similar forums.

At a community forum held on Saturday to gather views for the next Policy Address, Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah, who sat next to the Chief Executive (CE) Leung Chun-ying, was hit on the head by an egg hurled by opposition activists. While Tsang brushed the incident off with humor, the perpetrator faces a police investigation for common assault.

At Monday’s LegCo meeting, the opposition camp challenged the concept of institutional nomination and also interpretations made by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee. But Carrie Lam said she felt optimistic about the two-hour exchange.

“I do feel that there is still room, and considerable room, for us to discuss with the pan-democratic members in the Legislative Council,” she said. But Lam also stressed the need to incorporate the views of the pro-establishment camp into the process.

She plans to host four dinners for legislators at her residence in January, depending on the outcome. Lam said the government might also organize meetings between the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the HKSAR and legislators to encourage exchanges on both sides.

Any reform package must secure the backing of a handful of opposition legislators to pass through the local legislature. Lam has said the government wanted to obtain broad support — not just from a small fraction of the opposition camp.

She reiterated on Monday that any proposals which could cripple the power of the nominating committee would be considered inconsistent with the Basic Law. Ruling out proposals too early might also lead to controversy, Lam noted.

Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung said the government wanted to leave room for debate on political reform.