HONG KONG • Hong Kong's next leader, Mrs Carrie Lam, vowed yesterday to heal political and social divides, pledging to return the global financial hub to its "normal course of development".
She takes office on July 1 after being elected in March amid widespread concern that Beijing's meddling had sealed her victory.
The former civil service chief replaces her former boss, incumbent chief executive Leung Chun Ying, a deeply unpopular leader widely viewed in the city as being too eager to please Beijing's Communist Party leadership. Those leaders are increasingly fearful that a fledgling independence or secessionist movement in Hong Kong could spread, and a Beijing official based in the city warned over the weekend that further trouble could threaten its vaunted autonomy.
Acknowledging the tension, Mrs Lam said she was aware of the city's problems and deeply polarised views.
"I will do my utmost to unify society and to bring Hong Kong back to its normal course of development, because I think that is the aspiration of the great majority of Hong Kong people," said Mrs Lam, who will become Hong Kong's first female leader.
She said her election manifesto had emphasised the need to address the aspirations and "unhappiness" of young people with greater opportunities and upward mobility. "So, together with my team from July 1, that is going to be one of our policy priorities," she said.
Mrs Lam offered no fresh specifics on any new policies or views on political reform, but she has previously said that unifying society was a key goal, besides improving livelihoods and the city's troubled governance.
She must tackle soaring property prices that are, in part, driving divisions and widening an extreme wealth gap.