Give chief time on team says Exco man

Local | Phoebe Ng Jul 17, 2017
A top government adviser pleaded for "more space" for Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor to pick her remaining cabinet members.

Executive Council member Lam Ching-choi, a doctor-turned-politician, said it is much more important the chief executive "gets along" with her picks than the "political ideology" of her nominees. "It's about getting the jobs done," said Lam, pictured.

Two weeks into her new administration, Carrie Lam is yet to have undersecretaries and political assistants.

In June, pro-establishment educator Christine Choi Yuk-lin was tipped to be the undersecretary for education, sparking a petition signed by more than 10,000 people against the potential appointment.

Without revealing names, Lam Ching-choi asked the public to give the CE "room to decide" on candidates. "Governing is teamwork," he said in a radio interview. "Having someone thinking alike would shorten the adjustment period needed. It certainly helps regardless of their political beliefs."

At 56, Lam is relatively young in Exco, where the members' average age is 62. He is not worried about being "out of touch" with youngsters.

"If you are willing to learn, you would be able to connect with young people," he said.

He also "feels for" the youth from poor families because he grew up in poverty himself. "It is the lack of hope and the feeling that you are left behind by society that make one feel helpless," he said.

Lam, who also chairs the Elderly Commission, said a high percentage (6.8 percent) of the SAR's elderly are living in care homes, and there should be more "transitional support" for seniors moving back home after staying in hospital due to sickness.

"I would bet over eight out of 10 of the elders would not want to live there," he said. "But without enough help, it is easy for families to simply send sick seniors to nursing homes."

He also revealed how Carrie Lam invited him to Exco two months ago in a breakfast meeting. She "popped the question" while discussing elderly policies with him.

"I did not feel particularly special. Rather, my first reaction was: is it going to be a very busy job?" Lam said, but he decided to join the 16-member top policy-making team after about four days.

When attending Carrie Lam's first question and answer session with lawmakers on July 5, he was spotted playing on his phone throughout the meeting.

"I tend to be a multitasker. I did pay attention to the meeting," he said. "This is my working style, I hope I can be forgiven."

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