'Reassured, proud, no regrets:' Lam concludes 'most challenging' term
By Fan Anqi and Zhang Changyue Published: Jun 30, 2022 11:38 PM
"Reassured, proud and without regrets," was how incumbent Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Carrie Lam described her tenure as she prepared to leave her post on Thursday, thus completing a term recognized as "the most turbulent five years" and officially concluding her 42 years as a civil servant.
As Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Hong Kong on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the city's return to the motherland, Xi gave full recognition of Lam's five-year work as Chief Executive. Lam has made arduous efforts and vital contributions to safeguarding national sovereignty, security and development interests, maintaining Hong Kong's prosperity and stability, implementing the principle of "patriots administering Hong Kong," and enabling Hong Kong to achieve a major transition from chaos to order, he said.
Lam said that the past five years of her career have been extraordinary and she feels honored to have been able to contribute to the cause of "one country, two systems."
Lam wrote on Tuesday in her last Facebook post as Chief Executive that "all good things must come to an end." Lam said she has published over 600 posts in the past five years, and the account will be closed on Thursday. "With this last post, I would like to thank everyone who has paid me notice and shared their comments on my posts."
From chaos to stability, today's Hong Kong has returned to the right track of "one country, two systems," Lam said, giving her sincere wishes for a better tomorrow for the city, and a happy life for all Hong Kong residents.
Netizens from Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland flooded her post and China's social media platforms with thumbs-up, heart and flower emojis, as they thanked Lam for her unremitting efforts in safeguarding the city and the remarkable performance she has delivered.
As the only female leader of Hong Kong's five Chief Executives, Lam has experienced the greatest upheavals and gone through the darkest moments during the 2019 social turmoil and also witnessed how things had gradually picked up after the historic adoption of the National Security Law for Hong Kong and electoral reform, which brought huge changes in lifting the city out of chaos and turning to peaceful governance.
At her last media session on June 9, Lam choked up several times as she looked back on the past five years of her work. She compared her term to riding on a roller coaster, when prolonged social unrest and escalating violence plunged Hong Kong into its gravest situation since its return to the motherland. "But what drives me forward without fear is a strong sense of historical mission and responsibility of the times," she said.
"I have handed in an answer sheet without regret, and I can now draw a complete conclusion to my 42 years of career in public service." Lam said she felt reassured and proud to have joined this service, which has given her great satisfaction.
Commenting on Lam's performance, Fan Peng, a research fellow with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of Political Science, said that with the central government's full trust and strong support, Lam firmly implemented the practice of "one country, two systems" and made the right decisions at various critical moments.
Fan told the Global Times on Thursday that the HKSAR was at the very front line in a dramatically changing international landscape in which the US and the West launched fierce ideological attacks on the Chinese mainland.
"As the first female Chief Executive of the SAR government, Lam has pulled Hong Kong through with fortitude in a relatively soft and flexible manner. Under Lam's leadership, the city has not only consolidated the basic national security issue, but actively promoted its connectivity to the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area by boosting Hong Kong's regional advantages such as technological innovation and expertise," Fan said.
While powering through the toughest storms, Lam also showed some vulnerable moments to the public as she shed tears while recalling the social unrest. In her last policy address in October, 2021, she choked up while saying, "In less than two years since taking office, I have been under tremendous and unprecedented pressure due to the social unrest and non-stop brutal interference from external forces as well as the impact of the epidemic. What supported me in overcoming all the difficulties were the earnest words of the central government that it will always be the strong backing of the SAR, my unchanging commitment to protect the people of Hong Kong, and the unlimited trust and support of my family."
Compared with her predecessor, Lam has shifted the direction of administration to focus on people's livelihoods and the development of Hong Kong in a practical way, observers noted. Although she met a number of obstacles along the way, she has set a correct direction that her successors can follow, Fan noted.
Fan said that it takes time for the new policy to make a difference given the series of problems left by Hong Kong's industrial structure, as well as the long-lasting social and cultural influence of the UK before Hong Kong was returned to China.
Another thing that needs to be strengthened is the promotion of patriotic education among young Hong Kong people and the strengthening of national identity, an area that still needs more management. "It's a pity that Lam hasn't fully enhanced the cohesion, solidarity and common values across society, which should be promoted step by step in the future with more efforts in detailed and 'soft-power' areas," Fan said.
In an interview with Phoenix Television, Lam said that the next administration should not be afraid of fighting, as Hong Kong is a very complex place and some issues just cannot be avoided, such as national security. "Since the adoption of the National Security Law, the West has taken every chance to smear Hong Kong with so-called freedom and human rights. We must uphold a mindset to fight against these accusations so as to protect ourselves," Lam said.
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