Hong Kong's leader revealed on Tuesday she had apologised to members of the pro-establishment camp for its landslide loss in the recent district council elections, after meeting some of the defeated candidates.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor accepted the result signalled voters' "dissatisfaction with the government".
It was the first time the city leader " who was yet to meet any of the victorious pan-democrats " openly apologised to her allies since they suffered a humiliating reversal two weeks ago, losing control of 17 out of 18 district councils amid long-running unrest fuelled by anger at Lam and her administration. Pro-Beijing candidates won only 60 out of 452 seats.
Speaking ahead of her weekly Executive Council meeting, Lam said she had met members of the pro-establishment camp recently, adding that the government was at least partly responsible for the election result.
The defeat of the pro-establishment camp undeniably has a direct relationship with the governmentChief Executive Carrie Lam
"The defeat of the pro-establishment camp undeniably has a direct relationship with the government," she said, saying some voters did not care about candidates' performances in their districts but "merely expressed their dissatisfaction with the government".
"From this perspective, it is only natural for me to offer apologies to the pro-establishment candidates," she said. "I do not evade this stance as chief executive, whether privately or openly."
Two days after the November 24 election, Lam conceded only that the government had a "certain impact" on its allies' results.
The election, which drew a record 71.2 per cent turnout, was seen as a showdown for government, months after it inadvertently sparked the angry protests with a controversial extradition bill, which it has since withdrawn. The initial protests have spread over the past half-year into a wider push for greater democracy and police accountability.
Looking ahead, Lam said the government would respect the incoming legion of pro-democracy district councillors, and treat them the same as any other councillors, while expecting them to respect the usual rules and conventions.
On Monday, the government issued a statement saying Lam had been considering whether she would attend the monthly question and answer session at the Legislative Council.
Lam noted on Tuesday that she initiated the monthly sessions, on top of the four regular sessions per year, to enhance communication with the legislature. But she said she doubted the value of the meetings, for the time being.
"Almost whenever I step into the Legco building and chamber, there will be disruptions to the proceedings, perhaps undermining order in Legco," she said, citing her two trips to the legislature for her October policy address and a question and session on the following day.
She said she would attend the regular session in mid-January on a trial basis. If that goes smoothly, she said, she would be happy to continue attending the monthly sessions.
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