Carrie Lam has officially thrown her hat into the 2017 Hong Kong Chief Executive race.
Her resignation as Chief Secretary was accepted by Beijing earlier on Monday. Executive Counsellor Bernard Chan will be Lam’s campaign chief.
“Like many of you, I am worried about the discontent that has emerged in our society, I know our younger generation are concerned about the lack of upward mobility, and the cost of housing,” she told reporters at a press conference on Monday. “I share the desire of many that we must reignite Hong Kong’s can-do spirit.”
“At this juncture, it is incumbent upon the government to restore faith and hope, propel economy, reduce inequality, and build greater consensus.”
Lam said that should would “definitely not consider running” had the incumbent Leung Chun-ying sought re-election.
She added that she had received a lot of support and encouragement from friends and colleagues, and also citizens at large: “I am humbled by the trust they place in me and their confidence that I am able to take Hong Kong, the city we love, to new heights.”
She also said that, when she was appointed chief secretary five years ago, she pledged to serve Hong Kong people with passion, commitment, humility and compassion: “I said we should listen to the people, whose collective wisdom was invaluable, and should build a more inclusive society by striving for greater consensus. This will continue to be my solemn promise.”
She said she met with central government officials recently, but had not sought “appointment” by Beijing.
Decades of experience
Lam, 59, joined the government in 1980. Prior to her appointment as chief secretary in 2012, she served in various positions such as Director of Social Welfare; Permanent Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands; Director-General of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in London; Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs; and Secretary for Development.
Lam’s critics have attacked her for failing to serve the interests of the underprivileged during her office as director of social welfare, and committing procedural impropriety in the recent controversy surrounding the Hong Kong Palace Museum project, among other things.
The two other publicly declared candidates for the leadership position are ex-judge Woo Kwok-hing and New People’s Party lawmaker Regina Ip. Former Financial Secretary John Tsang is also expected to enter the race.
Additional reporting: Kris Cheng. More to follow.