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Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, GBM, GBS (Chinese: 林鄭月娥; Cantonese Yale: Làhm Jehng Yuht-ngòh; née Cheng, born 13 May 1957) is a Hong Kong politician serving as the 4th and current Chief Executive of Hong Kong since 2017.[3] She served as Secretary for Development from 2007 to 2012 and Chief Secretary for Administration from 2012 to 2017.


Carrie Lam

林鄭月娥
港府執意推進《逃犯條例》修法民陣謹慎動員民眾抗爭1 (cropped).jpg
4th Chief Executive of Hong Kong
Assumed office
1 July 2017
Chief SecretaryMatthew Cheung
Preceded byLeung Chun-ying
Chief Secretary for Administration
In office
1 July 2012 – 16 January 2017
Chief ExecutiveLeung Chun-ying
Preceded byStephen Lam
Succeeded byMatthew Cheung
Secretary for Development
In office
1 July 2007 – 30 June 2012
Chief ExecutiveDonald Tsang
Preceded by
  • Sarah Liao (Secretary for Environment, Transport & Works)
  • Michael Suen (Secretary for Housing, Planning & Lands)
Succeeded byMak Chai-kwong
Personal details
Born
Cheng Yuet-ngor

(1957-05-13) 13 May 1957 (age 62)[1]
Wan Chai, British Hong Kong[2]
Nationality
Spouse(s)
Lam Siu-por (m. 1984)
Children2
EducationSt. Francis' Canossian College
Alma mater
Signature
Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor
Traditional Chinese林鄭月娥
Simplified Chinese林郑月娥

After graduating from the University of Hong Kong Lam joined the British Hong Kong civil service in 1980 and served in various government agencies. She became a key official in 2007 when she was appointed Secretary for Development. During her tenure, she earned the nickname "tough fighter" for her role in the controversial demolition of the Queen's Pier.

Lam became Chief Secretary for Administration under the Leung Chun-ying administration in 2012. From 2013 to 2015 Lam headed the Task Force on Constitutional Development for the 2014 Hong Kong electoral reform and held talks with student and opposition leaders during the widespread protests. In the 2017 Chief Executive selection process, Lam obtained 777 votes from the 1,194-member appointed Election Committee as the Beijing-favoured candidate and became the first female Chief Executive of Hong Kong.

Lam's administration has seen controversies, including the trial and imprisonment of democracy activists, the disqualification of several pro-democracy candidates, as well as the criminalisation of the pro-independence Hong Kong National Party.[4] Her government was also criticised for raising the qualification age for Comprehensive Social Security Assistance and for its handling of the cross-harbour tunnel toll plan, among other policies.

In mid-2019, Lam's government pushed for a controversial amendment to the extradition law which received widespread domestic and international opposition. Massive protests broke out and persisted throughout the latter half of the year, from demanding the withdrawal of the bill to Lam's resignation among five key demands. Lam suspended the bill in June and did not withdraw the bill until September.[5][6][7][8] She also stood firmly against the other demands including an independent inquiry into police conduct and universal suffrage for Legislative Council and Chief Executive elections.[9] The clashes between the protesters and police escalated, which resulted in more than 4,000 arrests and a few deaths.[9] Lam's popularity also dropped to historic low with pro-Beijing camp suffered the worst landslide defeat in history in the November District Council election.

Early life and education

Born Cheng Yuet-ngor to a low-income family of Zhoushan ancestry in Hong Kong, Lam was the fourth of five children.[10][11][2] She was born and grew up in Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, where she finished her primary and secondary education at St. Francis' Canossian College, a Catholic girls' school in the neighbourhood, where she was head prefect.[12][13][14][15]

After graduation, Lam attended the University of Hong Kong.[12] Through her student activism, she came to know Lee Wing-tat and Sin Chung-kai who later became prominent pro-democrat legislators. She co-organised exchange trips to Tsinghua University[11][10] in Beijing. To better understand society and participate more actively in student activities, she switched her course of study from social work to sociology after the first year to avoid placements.[clarification needed][14][12] Lam eventually graduated with a Bachelor of Social Sciences in 1980.[1][16]

In 1982, when she was a civil servant, the Hong Kong government funded her studies at Cambridge University, where she met her future husband, mathematician Lam Siu-por.[17]

Civil service career

Lam joined the Administrative Service in 1980 after she graduated from the University of Hong Kong. She served in various bureaus and departments, spending about seven years in the Finance Bureau which involved budgetary planning and expenditure control. Initially, she worked as Principal Assistant Secretary and subsequently as Deputy Secretary for the Treasury in the 1990s.[18]

In 2000, Lam was promoted to the position of Director of the Social Welfare Department during a period of high unemployment and severe fiscal deficits in Hong Kong. She tightened the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance scheme, making it available only to people who had lived in Hong Kong for more than seven years, excluding new immigrants. With other senior officials, she helped set up the We Care Education Fund, raising over HK$80 million to meet the long term educational needs of children whose parents died from the SARS epidemic in 2003.

In November 2003, Lam was appointed Permanent Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands and chairman of the Town Planning Board. She was soon appointed Director-General of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in London in September 2004.[18]

On 8 March 2006, Lam returned to Hong Kong to take up the position as Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs. She was involved in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and Paralympics Equestrian Events and the West Kowloon Cultural District plan.[18]

Secretary for Development

 
Carrie Lam facing conservationists at a public forum at the Queen's Pier in July 2007

On 1 July 2007, Lam left the civil service when she was appointed Secretary for Development by Chief Executive Donald Tsang, becoming one of the principal officials. In the first days of her office, Lam oversaw the demolition of the landmark Edinburgh Place Ferry Pier for the Star Ferry and the Queen's Pier to make way for land reclamation, which triggered occupation protests by the conservationists.

In July 2007, she attended a public forum at Queen's Pier in a bid to persuade the protesters to disperse and allow the demolition to begin. She firmly repeated the government’s position that it was not an option to retain the pier and she would "not give the people false hope".[19] Her handling of the pier conflict earned her a reputation as a "tough fighter" by the then Chief Secretary for Administration Rafael Hui.[20]

Lam also put forward a new Urban Renewal Strategy to lower the threshold for compulsory sale for redevelopment from 90 percent to 80 percent in 2010. Human rights organisations criticised the policy as benefiting the big real estate developers and violating the right to housing as recognised by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights as the bargaining power of the small owners would be undermined.[21]

In 2012, Lam led the Development Bureau in cracking down unauthorised building works largely found in the indigenous villages in the New Territories.[22] The change in law enforcement policy was opposed by leaders of rural communities and the Heung Yee Kuk, a statutory body representing rural interests. The Heung Yee Kuk staged protests against Lam and accused her of "robbing villagers of their fundamental rights".[23] Lam also tried to tackle the "Small House Policy", which has been subject to abuse amidst a land crunch. The policy gives male indigenous villagers in the New Territories the right to build a house close to their ancestral homes but the policy has drawn criticism because in some cases, it has been abused for profit.[14][22]

In recognition of her achievements as Secretary for Development, she was awarded honorary member of the Hong Kong Institute of Landscape Architects, honorary fellow of the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers, Property Person of the Year in the RICS Hong Kong Property Awards 2012, honorary member of the Hong Kong Institute of Architects, honorary member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, honorary fellow member of the Hong Kong Institute of Architectural Conservationists, and honorary fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers.[18]

During the 2012 Chief Executive election, Lam cracked down on the unauthorised building works of Chief Executive candidate Henry Tang who was contesting Leung Chun-ying. That scandal put paid to Tang’s hopes of becoming Chief Executive. Leung was later found to also have unauthorised building works at his house. Lam was criticised for letting him get away with it.[22]

Chief Secretary for Administration

 
Lam meeting with Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland in 2015 as Chief Secretary.

After hinting she would retire in the United Kingdom with her family, Lam received appointment to become the Chief Secretary for Administration under Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying on 1 July 2012. Her popularity started to shrink as Chief Secretary as the Moral and National Education controversy sparked in the first months of the Leung administration, which saw Lam's popularity rating dipped two percentage points from 64 percent to 62 percent.[24]

2014 political reform and protests

In October 2013, she became the head of the Task Force on Constitutional Development headed by Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen and Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Raymond Tam which was responsible for the constitutional reform consultation for the electoral methods for the 2017 Chief Executive election and 2016 Legislative Council election. After Hong Kong Basic Law Committee member Rao Geping explicitly ruled out any form of open nomination for candidates in the 2017 Chief Executive election at a seminar, Lam characterised Rao’s statement as "setting the tune of the gong with a final hit" which received attacks from the pan-democrats that Lam had effectively put an end to consultation on the issue even before it has begun.[25]

After the National People's Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) decreed the restriction on the 2017 Chief Executive election in August 2014, the pro-democracy suffragists launched a large-scale occupation protests which lasted for 79 days. In response to the occupations, Lam announced that the second round of public consultations on political reform, originally planned to be completed by the end of the year, would be postponed.[26]

During the midst of the occupation protests, Lam also held talks in a televised open debate with student leaders on 21 October. In the talks, Lam obdurately resisted, stating that students' proposal of civil nomination falls outside of the framework imposed by the Basic Law and the NPCSC decision, which could not be retracted.[27]

The political reform uproar caused Lam to lose her long-held title as one of the most popular government officials when her approval ratings in a University of Hong Kong poll plunged to its lowest level since she became Chief Secretary.[14] The constitutional reform proposals were defeated in the Legislative Council in June 2015.

Lead-in-water scandal and controversies

Lam sparked controversy when she was the only principal official not to offer an apology for the lead-in-water scandal, insisting that, "even though the commission’s hearings reflected an inadequate awareness by government departments and flaws in the monitoring system, it did not necessarily equate to particular officials not following laws or neglecting duties – because of that, they do not have to bear personal responsibility."[28] She fought back pan-democrat legislators in a Legislative Council meeting, criticising the pan-democrats for politicising the scandal, stating that she could be as bold as she wants as "a government official with no expectation is always courageous". Her words were criticised for being arrogant.

She stirred another controversy when she, in a speech to open the Caritas Bazaar in 2015, Lam cited the eight Beatitudes, saying "Some said that the eighth blessing applies very well to me – it says, 'blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven' – there is already a place reserved for me in heaven." Senior cleric, The Reverend Thomas Law Kwok-Fai, told the media "No one would say that about themselves… I won’t dare to myself", while a senior lecturer at the Chinese University of Hong Kong said that Lam sounded arrogant.[29]

Palace Museum controversy

In December 2016, Lam was under fire when she announced a deal with Beijing for the plans for a Hong Kong Palace Museum as the chair of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority without any public consultation and transparency during the decision-making process. She was also criticised for appointing architect Rocco Yim Sen-kee to start a HK$4.5 million feasibility study for building the museum and exhibition centre complex behind closed doors months before the authority board chose the architect as its design consultant. Lam linked the backlash to her announcement that she would "reconsider" running in the 2017 Chief Executive election after incumbent Leung Chun-ying said he would not seek a second term.[30] Lam previously said that she would retire in the English countryside with her family after her term ended in 2017.[14][31]

2017 Chief Executive bid

 
Carrie Lam held an election rally with her star-studded campaign team on 3 February 2017.

Lam formally announced her plan to enter the 2017 Chief Executive election after resigning as Chief Secretary on 12 January 2017, ending her 36-year government career. She also set out what she described as an eight-point "achievable new vision" with a call to play to "strengths with determination and confidence".[32] The election rally with the campaign slogan of "We Connect" including the catchwords "We Care, We Listen, We Act" was attended by many pro-Beijing figures and tycoons from both the Henry Tang and Leung Chun-ying camps in the last election. She also revealed a star-studded campaign team, which included council of chairpersons and senior advisers consisting of heavyweights including senior pro-Beijing politicians and tycoons.[33]

On 6 February, multiple media reports said National People's Congress (NPC) chairman Zhang Dejiang, who was simultaneously head of the Communist Party's Central Coordination Group for Hong Kong and Macau Affairs, and Sun Chunlan, head of the party's United Front Work Department, were in Shenzhen to meet with some Election Committee members from the major business chambers and political groups.[34] It was reported that Zhang told the electors that the Politburo of the Communist Party had decided to support Carrie Lam in the election.[35]

In response to the criticism of not having a full election platform, Lam revealed her manifesto titled "Connecting for Consensus and A Better Future" on 27 February, two days before the nomination period ended. The platform focused on reforming the government structure and boosting the economy, but did not make any promise on relaunching the political reform or Article 23 legislation.[36] Carrie Lam submitted a total of 579 nominations on 28 February, just 22 votes short of the final number needed to win the race. Lam dominated in the pro-Beijing business and political sectors, winning three-quarters of the votes in the business sector, but failed to receive any nomination from the pro-democracy camp.

On 26 March 2017, Lam was elected Chief Executive with 777 votes in the 1,194-member Election Committee, 197 more votes than she got in the nomination period. She is the first female leader of Hong Kong, the first candidate to be elected without leading in the polls and the first leader to have graduated from the University of Hong Kong. She pledged to "heal the social divide" and "unite our society to move forward" in her victory speech.[37]

Chief Executive

Lam received the appointment from Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on 11 April 2017.[38] Lam was sworn in by General Secretary of the Communist Party and President Xi Jinping, on 1 July 2017,[39] the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Special Administrative Region, becoming the first female Chief Executive.[40]

Suppression on localists and independentists

Disqualifications of localists

In July 2017 weeks after Lam sworn in, four pro-democracy legislators Leung Kwok-hung, Yiu Chung-yim, Nathan Law and Lau Siu-lai who were legally challenged for their oath-taking manners by the then Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen were disqualified by the court. The event caused the quick deterioration of the relations between the pro-democracy camp and the government after the strained relations had been improved compared to Lam's predecessor Leung Chun-ying.[41] Lam pledged she would not target more pro-democrats in oath-taking controversy.[42]

In the 2018 Legislative Council by-election for four of the six vacancies left by the disqualified legislators, Demosistō candidate Agnes Chow was disqualified for her party's platform of calling for "self-determination". After the European Union issued a statement warning that banning Chow from the by-election "risks diminishing Hong Kong’s international reputation as a free and open society", Lam defended the returning officer's decision, but denied that she had anything to do with the returning officer, stating that "there are absolutely no grounds for that sort of accusation or allegation of pressure."[43]

In the November 2018 Kowloon West by-election, the candidacy of the ousted legislator Lau Siu-lai was also disqualified by the returning officer as she advocated for "self-determination" on her 2016 electoral platform.[44] Her ally and elected legislator Eddie Chu, who signed the same statement in the 2016 election, was also barred from running in the rural representative election in December 2018. Lam supported the Returning Officer's decision that "had been made in accordance with the Rural Representative Election Ordinance."[45]

Ban on pro-independence party

In July 2018, the Hong Kong Police Force unprecedentedly served the convenor of the pro-independence Hong Kong National Party Chan Ho-tin a notice under the Societies Ordinance and sought to ban the Party. The police claimed that the party has engaged in sedition and that the party may be banned on grounds of national security with respect to Chinese territorial integrity. The notice contained highly detailed surveillance material on the party leadership's public engagements. On 24 October 2018, Chan Ho-tin and party spokesman Jason Chow Ho-fai filed appeals against the ban with the Chief Executive and Executive Council but were eventually rejected.[4][46]

In August, a controversy erupted in 2018 when the Foreign Correspondents' Club (FCC) hosted a lunchtime talk with Chan Ho-tin on 14 August. A Financial Times journalist Victor Mallet, vice-chairman of the press organisation, chaired the session.[47] The event was opposed by the governments of China and Hong Kong, because the issue of independence supposedly crossed one of the "bottom lines" on national sovereignty.[48][49] Upon returning to Hong Kong after a visit to Bangkok, Mallet was denied a working visa by the Hong Kong government.[50] He was then subjected to a four-hour interrogation by immigration officers upon his return from Thailand on Sunday, 7 October before he was finally allowed to enter Hong Kong on a seven-day tourist visa.[51] Carrie Lam refused to make any comment, only stating that the Immigration Department was not obliged to explain individual cases.[49]

Infrastructure projects

Express Rail Link co-location plan

In July 2017, the Lam administration proposed co-location arrangement of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (XRL) has sparked concerns that it might constitute a breach of the Basic Law and undermine Hong Kong's autonomy of "One Country, Two Systems", especially regarding the immigration control issue. In January 2018, Carrie Lam slammed the Hong Kong Bar Association for its criticism on the "co-location arrangement" which would allow the mainland customs officers will be allowed to set up checkpoints and exercise jurisdiction at the West Kowloon Station.[52] The Bar Association criticised the arrangement for distortion of the Basic Law, stating it damages the rule of law in Hong Kong as Article 18 was clearly written and leaves no room for any interpretation which would allow Chinese law to apply in any certain part of HKSAR.[53]

Lam defended the bill and responded by stating that "some Hong Kong legal professionals have an elitist mentality or double standards, that is, they think that Hong Kong’s legal system is supreme, and that the mainland legal system – a big country with a 1.3 billion population – is wrong." Her statement prompted widespread disbelief as she appeared to defend Chinese legal system being better than Hong Kong's legal system which is derived from British system, accusing her of hypocrisy as she herself is seen as an elite out of touch with society, damaging the One Country, Two Systems principle and for attacking the character instead of the arguments of Hong Kong's lawyers.[54]

The long-debated plan was finally passed on 14 June 2018 in the Legislative Council by 40 to 20 votes after Legislative Council President Andrew Leung capped debate time for the bill at 36 hours to counter pro-democrats' filibustering.[55] The cross-border Express Rail Link was opened on 22 September 2018, followed by the opening of another cross-border infrastructure Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge on 23 October 2018 by Communist Party general secretary Xi Jinping. Lam entering the venue side-by-side with Xi and ahead of Macau Chief Executive Fernando Chui and First Vice Premier Han Zheng. The entrance raised eyebrows among those who saw it as a departure from protocol for her to walk in front of top mainland officials.[56]

 
Carrie Lam published the second policy address in her term of office in October 2018.

Lantau Tomorrow Vision

In October 2018, Lam launched a development plan in her second policy address which suggested the construction of artificial islands with a total area of about 1,700 hectares through massive land reclamation near Kau Yi Chau and Hei Ling Chau of the eastern waters of Lantau Island.[57] The project meets with controversies and opposition for its high cost of estimated HK$500 billion (US$63.8 billion) – amounting to half of the city’s fiscal reserves, as well as environmental concerns.

Late 2018 to early 2019 crises

UGL case closure

On 12 December 2018, the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) announced it would not take any "further investigative action" against Leung Chun-ying over his receipt of HK$50 million from the Australian engineering firm UGL, ending the four-year marathon probe. The Department of Justice also issued a statement claiming there was "insufficient evidence to support a reasonable prospect of conviction" against Leung for any criminal offence.[58]

Carrie Lam defended Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng who was strongly criticised for not following the conventional procedure of seeking external legal advice in the UGL case. Lam said Cheng had made a professional call and she hoped the UGL saga, which had been a point of contention for four years, could finally end.[59]

Age threshold of the elderly CSSA

In January 2019, the Lam administration announced that the age threshold for elderly Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) would jump from 60 to 65, starting in February. She faced opposition from both the pro-Beijing and pro-democracy legislators, in which she responded that it was the Legislative Council who approved the change in the CSSA scheme, as part of the 2018 Budget. Her remarks attracted backlashes from the legislators as well as the public. On 18 January, Lam backed down by announcing that people affected would get a new employment support supplement that would cover the cut. The Lam government also made an U-turn by suspending the controversial plan to impose a HK$200 penalty on Hong Kong’s senior citizens claiming welfare payments without joining a job programme.[60]

$4,000 handout scheme

The government was also under fire by the HK$4,000 handout scheme proposed in the Financial Secretary Paul Chan's 2018 Budget in which adult residents would get up to HK$4,000 if they do not own property or get government benefits. The application procedure was criticised for being too complicated. Applicants were initially required to provide an address proof. Facing the criticism, the government later waived the address proof requirement.[60]

Amid the UGL case and the mismanagements, the average score of Carrie Lam further plunged to a new low in mid January to 50.9 in the poll by the University of Hong Kong, dropping 5.5 points from the previous month. Her net approval rating fell 21 percentage points to a new low.[61] In another poll conducted by Chinese University of Hong Kong, Lam scored the lowest point of only 50.9 per cent – 1.8 percentage points lower than the previous month.[62] Lam softened her tone after the widespread criticism. "The implementation of these measures has made people question the ability of this administration to govern," Lam said. "I completely accept this criticism."[60]

Cross-harbour tunnel toll plan

The Lam administration first presented a cross-harbour tunnel toll plan in January 2019 to balance the traffic between the three cross-harbour tunnels by raising tolls at the publicly operated overused Cross-Harbour Tunnel and Eastern Harbour Tunnel, while lowering them for the privately run Western Harbour Tunnel which was underused because of its higher charges. But Secretary for Transport and Housing Frank Chan abruptly withdrew it after strong opposition from the Legislative Council. The government made two changes to the motion in the hope of getting more support, but legislators across the political spectrum remained unconvinced. In March, Carrie Lam said her government has decided to shelve the plan for the second time as the government could not get enough votes in the legislature, symbolising the first defeat of the Lam administration.[63]

Anti-extradition bill protests

 
Protesters demonstrating against the extradition bill on 9 June 2019.

Introduction of the bill and opposition

In mid-2019, the Lam government introduced a bill to amend the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance. This sparked opposition which expressed fears about the city opening itself to Mainland Chinese law and urged the government to establish an extradition arrangement with Taiwan only.[64] Lam insisted that she would proceed with the bill and that the Legislative Councillors must still pass new extradition laws before their summer break.[65] Lam also claimed that the bill controversy had been "escalated" by foreign powers, allegedly seizing the opportunity to attack the mainland’s legal system and human rights record.[66] She survived the first motion of no-confidence against her with the backing of the pro-Beijing majority in the legislature on 29 May. Democratic Party legislator Andrew Wan who moved the motion claimed that Lam "blatantly lied" about the bill.[67]

The June 9 peaceful demonstration against the bill saw a new high number of over a million people marching in the streets as the organisers claimed, but the government issued a press statement, that it "acknowledge[s] and respect[s] that people have different views on a wide range of issues", but insisted the second reading debate on the bill would resume on 12 June.[68] On the day of the second rading, the protest outside the government headquarters later descended into violent clashes with the police. Amid the clashes, Lam appeared in a TVB interview where she was in tears when asked if she betrayed Hong Kong, replying "I grew up with all Hong Kong people and my love for this place has prompted me to make many personal sacrifices." Instead of selling out Hong Kong, she said her husband had told her that after she became Chief Executive she had "sold herself to Hong Kong".[69] She said she had done nothing against her conscience and would not withdraw the bill. However within three hours, Lam released another video with a change of the tone, strongly reprimanding protesters for the "blatant, organised riot" and condemning it as "not an act of love for Hong Kong."[70]

After the intense violent clashes, Carrie Lam announced a pause in the passage of the extradition bill on 15 June.[71] On 16 June, nearly two million protesters, as claimed by the organisers, peacefully flooded the streets demanding a full withdrawal of the bill.[72][73][74][75][76] In response, Lam apologised to Hong Kong residents, promised to "sincerely and humbly accept all criticism and to improve and serve the public", and repeatedly stated that the bill had already been suspended.[77]

Persisting protests

 
Carrie Lam at the press conference with Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng and Secretary for Security John Lee one day after the massive protest on 10 June.

The protests took a dramatic turn on 1 July, the 22nd anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong as a group of protesters stormed the Legislative Council Complex and vandalised the building, leaving graffiti such as "It was you who told me peaceful marches did not work."[78] Lam refused to grant any of the five key demands requested by the protesters, namely the full withdrawal of the extradition bill, a commission of inquiry into the police misconduct, release and a possible amnesty of the arrested protesters, the retraction of the categorisation of the protests as "riots" and universal suffrage of the Chief Executive and Legislative Council. As the protests intensified and spread to different districts of the city, Lam saw her support in August 2019 fall to a record low of 17 per cent, with those opposed hitting 76 per cent, according to a survey released by the Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute. Satisfaction with the SAR government fell to 14 per cent, the lowest ever recorded in post-colonial times. Notwithstanding a 2017 pledge, she refused to resign, claiming the community needed her to "hold the fort".[79]

In early September 2019, Reuters published a recording of a behind-the-door talk that Lam had given in late August 2019 to several businesspeople. Lam said that "for a Chief Executive to have caused this huge havoc to Hong Kong is unforgivable. It's just unforgivable. If I have a choice, the first thing is to quit, having made a deep apology, is to step down." She also said "the political room for [the Chief Executive who serve two masters, Beijing and the Hong Kong people] maneuvering is very, very, very limited." Lam responded that the leak was "very inappropriate", and that she had "not even contemplated tendering resignation".[80][81] Shortly after that, on 4 September Lam formally withdrew the bill after three months of unprecedented anti-government protests, but gave no sign of stepping down or conceding to any of the protesters' other four key demands.[82] She only repeatedly stated that the Complaints Against Police Office (CAPO), a unit within the Police Force, and the Independent Police Complaints Council (IPCC), a monitoring body, would still be able to handling the complaint cases as the accusations against police mismanagement, brutality and corruption mounted up, including the July 21 Yuen Long attack and August 31 Prince Edward station attack.[83] Lam also held a dialogue session was held on 26 September as she pledged to communicate with the public, but no subsequent session has been held since then.[84]

Attempting to curb the ongoing protests, Carrie Lam on 4 October invoked the Emergency Regulations Ordinance to impose a law to ban wearing face masks in public gatherings which was later declared unconstitutional by the High Court in November.[85][86] Protests and citywide flashmob rallies against the anti-mask law and the invocation of the emergency ordinance persisted throughout the month.[87]

Electoral defeat and impeachment attempt

In the November District Council elections which were seen as a de facto referendum on the persisting protests, Lam's pro-Beijing camp suffered from the largest electoral defeat in Hong Kong history with pro-democrats gaining more than 240 seats, over 80 per cent of the available seats, and controlling 17 of the 18 District Councils.[88] Carrie Lam said that her government would "listen humbly" and "seriously reflect" on views expressed at the election and would set up an independent review committee to look at cause of social unrest, modelling on Britain’s response to the 2011 Tottenham riots, fell short of the protesters' demand on an independent commission of inquiry.[89] Shortly after the election, U.S. President Donald Trump signed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act which was previously passed overwhelmingly in the United States Congress into law. Lam said she was disappointed by the passage of the Act, and said the Hong Kong freedom was not been eroded.[90]

In December, 25 pro-democrat legislators tabled an impeachment motion to form an independent investigative committee to examine claims that Lam’s conduct constituted a "serious breach of the law and dereliction of duty".[91] Despite the motion being defeated, with 36 voted "no" and 26 voted yes, Lam received criticism from both pro-democracy and pro-Beijing legislators for mishandling the extradition bill and the protests.[92]

Personal life

In 1984, Carrie married Hong Kong mathematician Lam Siu-por, whom she met while studying at Cambridge.[31] He obtained his PhD in Mathematics in 1983, under the supervision of Frank Adams.[93]

Siu-por used to teach at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and retired to England,[clarification needed] but has since taught[when?] some short courses at the Capital Normal University in Beijing.[94][95] The couple have two sons, Jeremy and Joshua, who studied in England.[96]

Their eldest son Jeremy joined Xiaomi, an electronics and software company in Beijing in April 2016. Her husband and both sons are British citizens, while Carrie herself renounced her British citizenship to take up the principal official post in the Hong Kong SAR government in 2007.[97]

Honours

In recognition of her "career achievements and contributions to the community", Lam was awarded the Gold Bauhinia Star and the Grand Bauhinia Medal in 2010 and 2016. In 2013 she was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Social Sciences by Lingnan University and was made an Officier de la Légion d’Honneur by the French government in 2015.[18]

Lam also received an honorary fellowship from the Wolfson College, Cambridge for being "persons of distinction whom the College holds in high standing". In the 2019 anti-extradition bill protests, activists and politicians including three members of the House of Lords urged the university to revoke Lam’s title, condemning her "hard line approach" against the protesters.[98]

See also

References

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External links

Government offices
Preceded by
Leung Kin-pong
Director of Social Welfare
2000–2003
Succeeded by
Paul Tang
Preceded by
John Tsang
Permanent Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands (Planning and Lands)
2003–2004
Succeeded by
Rita Lau
Preceded by
Leung Kin-pong
Director-General of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, London
2004–2006
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Agnes Allcock
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Shelley Lee
Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs
2006–2007
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Carrie Yau
Political offices
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Sarah Liao
as Secretary for the Environment, Transport and Works
Secretary for Development
2007–2012
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Mak Chai-kwong
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Michael Suen
as Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands
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Stephen Lam
Chief Secretary for Administration
2012–2017
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Matthew Cheung
Preceded by
Leung Chun-ying
Chief Executive of Hong Kong
2017–present
Incumbent
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Order of precedence
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Chief Executive
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Chief Justice of the Court of Final Appeal