Executive–Legislative Relations Under CY Leung and Carrie Lam

Being the first Chief Executive to take office after the 2014 Occupy movement, Carrie Lam vowed to improve executive–legislative relations. One step that she has taken is to visit LegCo every month to answer lawmakers’ queries, a move in stark contrast to its predecessor CY Leung who only attended the Council a few times a year.

But has Lam’s action really warmed the relationship between the two bodies?

A sentiment analysis on lawmakers’ speeches during CE-attended meetings does not show a significant difference in the negativity expressed to the two leaders.

The analysis first matches the speech text of lawmakers in CE’s Question and Answer Sessions on the Policy Address, Question and Answer Sessions and Question Time with sentiment dictionaries, and the proportion of positive and negative terms being used is then calculated. A higher proportion of positive terms used can possibly indicate a more positive sentiment carried by the speaker towards the CE, and vice versa.

Since lawmakers often take the questioning sessions as opportunities to express their views on the leader or the government, the proportion of sentiment can provide a glimpse into executive–legislative relations.

But this method has its downside—the analysis cannot differentiate satirical statements since it only takes the literal meaning of the words used.
The pro-establishment camp has been displaying a higher degree of positivity in general as members from the camp tend to use more positive words in laying their questions to the CE, and vice versa for their counterparts in the opposition camp.

This trend is seen across both Leung’s and Lam’s administrations.

When comparing the overall sentiment of both camps over time, a trend that is opposite to what Lam has strived to achieve can be seen.

While Lam has been enjoying a slightly higher level of positivity than Leung on average, the positivity that she received from the non-pro-establishment camp amidst the controversial extradition amendment bill is lower than what Leung had experienced.

This particular observation echoes with the finding of recent opinion polls conducted by PORI, which find Lam’s approval rate to be at the record low for the city’s leader, signifying a huge challenge for governance.

Lam’s ambition to heal the relationship between the executive and the legislature has not been particularly successful. With the extradition bill saga dragging on for months, it remains uncertain whether Lam would be able to realise it in her remaining term.


The R source code of the analysis is available on this GitHub repo. The raw data are collected from the LegCo Open Data API with the R packages that I developed.

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