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PoliticsHong Kong

Hong Kong's Carrie Lam will not seek a second term

April 4, 2022

The Hong Kong leader has said the decision to step down was her "personal wish" and is based on family considerations. Her successor is due to be picked in May.

Hongkong | PK Carrie Lam
Image: Vincent Yu/AP Photo/picture alliance

Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on Monday she would not seek a second five-year term.

"There's only one consideration and that is family. I have told everyone before that family is my first priority in terms of my consideration. They think it’s time for me to go home," Lam told a regular press briefing.

Lam added she would complete her five-year term on June 30, which would bring an end to 42 years of public service.

She said she had already informed Beijing's leaders about her decision.

Hong Kong set to choose new leader

Hong Kong's leadership election is due to take place on May 8 after it was postponed for six weeks in March due to a coronavirus surge.

The city's chief secretary John Lee is seen as the front runner to take over from Lam. Lee was the city's head of security during the 2019 pro-democracy protests that transformed the semi-autonomous city and ushered in a crackdown from authorities in Beijing.

Hong Kong's chief executive is elected by a 1,500-member election committee,lawmakers, representatives of various industries, as well as pro-Beijing representatives like deputies to China's parliament. Beijing has also taken steps to increase its control over Hong Kong's elections. 

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Lam's tumultuous record

Lam was sworn into office as the fourth chief executive by Chinese President Xi Jinping in July 2017.

Hong Kong became more isolated during her term over a crackdown on pro-democracy protests and rigid COVID-19 restrictions.

Lam, who promised to unite the semi-autonomous city when she first took office, found it difficult to balance interests with Beijing.

Lam's reputation declined after the 2019 protests and a subsequent draconian national security law imposed by Beijing, which made it easier to punish protesters and crack down on free media in Hong Kong. In 2020, Lam was sanctioned by the US Treasury for her part in curtailing political freedoms in Hong Kong.

Her management of coronavirus has also been heavily criticized as Hong Kong experienced its worst phase of the pandemic earlier this year. 

Hong Kong was initially slated to hold the chief executive election on March 27,  but the pandemic delayed the vote for six weeks until May 8. 

Lam had been tipped as the race front-runner, but she said her decision had been conveyed to the central government in Beijing last year and was met with "respect and understanding.''

rm,lo/wmr (AP, Reuters)

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