Hong Kong’s much-criticised, controverisal leader Carrie Lam says she will not seek a second term and will depart public service after more than four decades.
The successor of Ms Lam, who survived massive protests against her government in 2019 and oversaw the implementation of a tough national security law that quashed dissent, will be picked in May.
“I will complete my five year term as chief executive on the 30th of June this year, and I will also call an end to my 42 years of public service,” Ms Lam said at a news conference.
Speculation had swirled for months about whether she would seek another term, but she said that her decision had been conveyed to the central government in Beijing last year and was met with “respect and understanding”.
Massive protests against the territory’s government rocked Hong Kong in 2019 including calls for Ms Lam to step down. Beijing responded in 2020 with a tough national security law that has stifled dissent in the semiautonomous Chinese city.
Hong Kong media say that her number 2 John Lee is likely to enter the race to succeed her. Chief Secretary Lee was the city’s head of security during the protests.
Hong Kong’s leader is elected by a committee made up of lawmakers, representatives of various industries and professions, and pro-Beijing representatives such as Hong Kong deputies to the China’s legislature. One of the unfulfilled demands of the 2019 protests was direct election of the city’s chief executive.
The city was initially slated to hold the chief executive election on March 27 but the poll were postponed for six weeks until May 8 in light of the city’s worst coronavirus outbreak.
Ms Lam said that holding the polls as originally scheduled would pose “public health risks” even if a committee of only 1,462 people is involved.