Hong Kong’s Carrie Lam Could See No-Confidence Vote After SAR Caves to Corporate Anti-Lockdown Lobby

© REUTERS / TYRONE SIUHong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam speaks during news conference over planned changes to the electoral system, in Hong Kong
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam speaks during news conference over planned changes to the electoral system, in Hong Kong - Sputnik International, 1920, 22.03.2022
An opposition lawmaker in Hong Kong’s Legislative Council has threatened to bring a motion of no confidence against Chief Executive Carrie Lam for the government’s backing off of COVID-19 restrictions amid a massive new outbreak of the deadly disease.
Junius Ho Kwan-yiu, an unaffiliated but pro-mainland lawmaker representing the Election Committee constituency in the Legislative Council, on Tuesday suggested that Lam’s government had failed to respond to the new COVID-19 outbreak raging across the city.
“We trust the [Hong Kong] government because we wholeheartedly trust the central government. But now you’ve told us things won’t be carried out according to what you had said … Tell us then, should we listen to you or not?” Ho said, according to the South China Morning Post.
Lam’s government has repeatedly said it would implement stricter COVID-19 protections, including lockdowns, over the past several months, only to consistently reverse course on those plans. The back-and-forth has created uncertainty, causing runs on supermarkets and other stores, and sending the wealthy residents abroad to escape quarantines.
No other lawmakers have spoken out in favor of Ho’s proposed move, however, according to the SCMP.
On Friday, the city’s Department of Health said it had recorded over 1 million COVID-19 cases in Hong Kong since the pandemic began, but almost all have come in the most recent fifth wave. A separate estimate by University of Hong Kong researchers found that as many as 3.6 million Hong Kong residents may have contracted the virus - half the city’s population.
The Health Department reported 14,152 new cases on Tuesday, lower than its peak number but still roughly 100 times the average daily cases seen in previous Covid outbreaks.
A day prior, Lam’s government laid out a tiered plan for easing Covid restrictions beginning on April 1, although she noted it was a framework and not a firm plan.
“I would advise that you need not draw any conclusion of what we are heading towards in the announcement that we have made today,” she remarked.
Lam has faced heavy opposition to firmer lockdowns from the city’s corporate sector, including the Hong Kong Monetary Authority bank regulator, which earlier this month said it was lobbying the city to halve quarantine times for travelers, according to Bloomberg. Weeks earlier, the government, under corporate pressure, made another reduction in quarantine times.
The situation contrasts sharply with that on the Chinese mainland, where the socialist government has a firm grip on corporate power and has directed a wide-ranging “Zero Covid” program. In Shenzhen, a tech hub of 17.5 million that abuts the Hong Kong SAR in Guangdong Province, a handful of cases caused a weeklong shutdown and a massive testing program for every resident.
According to a recent report in Fortune, Shenzhen residents aren’t amused at what they describe as the “privileged” attitude of their Hong Kong neighbors.
"Why is Hong Kong experiencing such privilege? No lockdowns, no citywide tests?" said one user on China’s Sina Weibo social media site. "Why is our taxpayer money going to these bastards? Hong Kong is part of China, but the people are not necessarily our compatriots."
Mainland China has only reported 174,505 Covid cases since the beginning of the pandemic, including the Wuhan outbreak in December 2019 that began the spread of the virus among humans. It recorded 3,890 new cases on Monday, part of the worst outbreak since the initial one, which has been centered in two cities in the northeastern Jilin Province. In Jilin’s Changchun and in Shenzhen, several dozen officials have been fired in recent days after being found responsible for the most recent outbreaks due to negligent behavior.
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