Answering questions in English was a waste of time, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said this morning at a press conference.
The city’s leader made the comments after being asked about land supply by a reporter from RTHK, a dual language broadcasting and online outlet.
She expressed dismay that she’d already addressed a similar query in Cantonese.
“Well, I think in future we’d better arrange simultaneous interpretation for this media standup because I kept on repeating the answers at each standup,” she said, according to a video of the press conference published by Apple Daily.
“I have answered exactly the same question in Cantonese, so I’m going to repeat what I said in Cantonese. But in future, the Director of Information Services may consider a better arrangement so that we don’t need to waste time.”
The question from RTHK – a government department – was one of four asked at the media standup prior to the Executive Council meeting. The other three were in Cantonese.
Responding to the comments, former legislator and reporter Emily Lau slammed the chief executive’s response as “totally inappropriate and insane”, according to RTHK.
“It’s outrageous especially when Hong Kong wants to be Asia’s ‘World City’ and our language policy is biliterate and trilingual,” Lau said, she said, according to the broadcaster.
English is an official language of Hong Kong. According to the government’s website, English speakers make up 4.1 percent of the city’s population.
“English is widely used in the Government and by the legal, professional and business sectors,” the website states.
Stepping in to defend Lam’s comments, the director of the Chief Executive’s office Eric Chan said that she answering questions in English was not a waste of her time, but that of other journalists present, RTHK reports.