Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor announced on Monday that she will not seek a second term in the race scheduled for May 8 to elect the city’s next leader.
At a media briefing, she said she had reported to the central government her intention not to run in the election and expressed gratitude for the central government’s trust in her.
Lam’s term will end at the end of June. Lam said that until then, she will focus on four areas of work, namely, holding the election for the next chief executive, fighting the fifth wave of the pandemic, planning celebrations of the city’s 25th anniversary of its return to China, and working on the transition of two administrations.
She thanked the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council and the four central government offices based in Hong Kong for making concerted efforts with her and the special administrative region in the past five years to fulfill the constitutional responsibilities of the city.
Lam also thanked her colleagues, including secretaries and bureau heads, civil servants, and her family, for their support.
The government has encountered unprecedented challenges and unparalleled dire situations compared with previous administrations, Lam said.
Lam said the government’s policies have continuity, and those policies supported by the public will continue to be implemented by the next administration.
Citing family reasons for her decision, Lam said she believes those who aspire to run for chief executive need to have the quality of being able to be held accountable to both the central government and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, as well as able to uphold “one country, two systems” and “Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong” with a high degree of autonomy.
Lam also expressed confidence that her decision will not affect the government’s concerted anti-pandemic efforts.
The election was originally scheduled to be held on March 27. But due the severe pandemic situation, it was postponed on Feb 18 and rescheduled to be held on May 8.
The nomination period for the election began on Sunday and will run through April 16. As April 15 and 16 are both general holidays, the deadline for submitting the nomination form will be 5 pm local time on April 14, according to the Electoral Affairs Commission.
Hong Kongers and businesses based in the finance hub have little clarity on who will be the next leader at a time when Beijing is increasingly calling the shots directly.
The chief executive position is selected by a 1,500-strong pro-Beijing committee, the equivalent of 0.02 percent of the city’s 7.4 million population.
Lam’s successor will be chosen on May 8 but so far no one with a realistic prospect has publicly thrown their hat into the ring.
Hong Kong’s number-two official, John Lee, who has a background in the security services, has been tipped by local press as the most likely contender.
Another potential candidate is finance chief Paul Chan.
The new leader will take office on July 1, the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover by Britain to China.
CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK, AFP