Carrie Lam Opts Out from the City’s Top Job

The two-weeks nomination period of the sixth term Chief Executive kicked off yesterday. Incumbent Chief Executive Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor announced that she will not seek a second term. 

Carrie Lam announces her decision in today’s anti-epidemic press conference. Photo: HKSAR Press Release

Lam announced her decision in today’s anti-epidemic press conference, stating that her decision was “entirely based on family consideration”. She further added that the central government “understands and respects” her choice when she revealed it in the beginning of last year. 

Lam, who missed the regular anti-epidemic press conference on April 1, was speculated to meet Xia Baolong, vice-chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference to talk about the possibility of seeking a second term. Lam remained coy on Sunday’s press conference and stated that there are appointments of CE that “need not be publicised”. Yet, she for the first time directly addressed the speculation of re-election by saying that she would announce her decision “when appropriate”. 

The polling of the election will be conducted on May 8 and Lam will end her term on June 30. Yet, Hong Kong’s political circle has been unprecedentedly quiet despite the upcoming election. Although there are names that have been circulating in the city’s political circle, prominent political figures have yet to declare candidacy. This is in stark contrast to previous elections in which candidates would throw their hats into the ring a couple of months before the nomination period begins. So far, only seven hopefuls who are not well-known to the locals have announced their intention to seek the top job. 

Current Chief Secretary John Lee Ka-Chiu is seen as one of the potential contenders for the Chief Executive election. When asked about whether any government officials have indicated their willingness to run for the race, Lam said she has not received any resignation from her cabinet. 

Other names that surfaced recently include current members of the executive council, namely Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po and Legislative Council member Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee. Leung Chun-ying, ex-Chief Executive and current vice-chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference is also seen as a would-be candidate. 

Leung has been active on Facebook over the past few years, commenting on the social unrest in 2019 and condemning the pro-democracy camp. He said last year that he “would be pleased to serve Hong Kong and the country at any position” when accepting an interview by Radio Television of Hong Kong. 

Checkley Sin Kwok-lam and Titus Wu Sai-Chuen are two that are more recognizable to the general public among the seven hopefuls. Sin, who is the director of the famous Ip Man Series, became the first would-be candidate by announcing his candidacy in January. Sin is active on the internet but has no experience as government officials. In his open-ended policy manifesto, he proposed to list national education as a compulsory examination subject for DSE.

Screenshot of Checkley Sin’s Youtube video, in which he announced his candidacy. Photo: Antonetta Chiu

Wu is a former member of the city’s biggest pro-establishment party. He had two attempts to compete for the city’s top job in 2012 and 2017, in both he failed to obtain adequate nominations. The property investor suggested raising the maximum loan-to-value ratio to 98% for residential properties.

Titus Wu held a press conference on March 31 and announced his run for the city’s top job. Photo: Titus Wu’s Facebook

Ahm Warm-sun and Wong Man-hong are two names that appeared on the government’s central platform website. Other hopefuls include radical pro-Beijing camp member Sandy Li Pik-Yee, amateur politician Siu Tak-leung and security guard Lai Hung-Mui.

One day before the nomination period began, the government announced its permission for election-related group gatherings to be conducted between April 3 and May 8. Candidates whose validity have been approved by the Candidate Eligibility Review Committee are allowed to conduct indoor-only meetings and campaigning activities, in order to “promote their platforms and beliefs to Hong Kong society”, a government’s spokesperson said. 

This is the first CE election after the city passed the electoral reform law, which aims to ensure administration by patriots only. Major changes made in the reform include expanding seats of the Election Committee from 1,200 to 1,500, and establishing a new fifth sector of the committee – also known as the pro-Beijing panel. The reform has been seen as Beijing’s further step to tighten its control over Hong Kong after the social unrest in 2019.

As yesterday is a general holiday, hopefuls can submit their completed nomination form in person to City Gallery 3, Edinburgh Place starting from 9 a.m. today. Excluding general holidays, hopefuls have a total of nine days to hand in their applications, before 5p.m. on April 14. Their nominations “must be subscribed by not less than 188 members of the Election Committee” with “not less than 15 members in each of the five Election Committee sectors”, as stated on the 2022 Chief Executive Election website. 

After the vetting process, validated candidates will be elected by the Election Committee on a one-person-one-vote basis. The candidate who obtains “more than 750 valid votes cast in any round of voting” will be elected as the sixth term CE of Hong Kong. 

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