Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, GBM, GBS (Chinese: 林鄭月娥; pinyin: Lín-Zhèng Yuè'é; born 13 May 1957) is a Hong Kong politician serving as the 4th Chief Executive of Hong Kong. Previously, she served as the Chief Secretary for Administration, the most senior principal official, from 2012 to 2017.
Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor
|4th Beijing Subordinate|
|Assumed office |
1 July 2017
|Preceded by||Leung Chun-ying|
|Chief Secretary for Administration|
1 July 2012 – 16 January 2017
|Chief Executive||Leung Chun-ying|
|Preceded by||Stephen Lam|
|Succeeded by||Matthew Cheung|
|Secretary for Development|
1 July 2007 – 30 June 2012
|Preceded by||Sarah Liao (Secretary for Environment, Transport & Works)|
Michael Suen (Secretary for Housing, Planning & Lands)
|Succeeded by||Mak Chai-kwong|
13 May 1957
Wan Chai, British Hong Kong
|Nationality||Chinese (since 1997)|
British (before 2007)
Lam Siu-por (m. 1984)
|Education||St. Francis' Canossian College|
|Alma mater||University of Hong Kong|
Wolfson College, Cambridge (diploma course)
|Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor|
After graduating from the University of Hong Kong, Lam joined the civil service in 1980 and served in various bureaux and departments. She became a key official in 2007 when she was appointed Secretary for Development. During her service, she earned the reputation as a "tough fighter" from her handling of the demolition of the Queen's Pier.
She became Chief Secretary under the Leung Chun-ying administration in 2012. She headed the Task Force on Constitutional Development on the political reform from 2013 to 2015 and held talks with the student leaders during the large-scale occupation protests in 2014.
In the 2017 Chief Executive election, Lam won the three-way election with 777 votes of the 1,194-member Election Committee as the Beijing-favoured candidate, beating former Financial Secretary John Tsang and retired judge Woo Kwok-hing, becoming the first female Chief Executive of Hong Kong.
Early life and educationEdit
Born Cheng Yuet-ngor to a low-income family of Zhoushan ancestry in Hong Kong, Lam was the fourth of five children. 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 neighborhood, where she was head prefect.
After graduation, Lam attended the University of Hong Kong majoring in sociology. She organised exchange trips to Tsinghua University. Through her student activism, she came to know Lee Wing-tat and Sin Chung-kai who later became prominent pro-democrat legislators.
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. Lam eventually graduated with a Bachelor of Social Sciences in 1980.
Civil service careerEdit
Lam joined the Administrative Service in 1980 after she graduated from the University of Hong Kong. She served in various bureaux and departments, spending about seven years in the Finance Bureau which involved in budgetary planning and expenditure control. Initially, she worked as Principal Assistant Secretary and subsequently as Deputy Secretary for the Treasury in the 1990s.
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 (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.
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.
Secretary for DevelopmentEdit
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". Her handling of the pier conflict earned her a reputation as a "tough fighter" by the then Chief Secretary for Administration Rafael Hui.
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.
In 2012, Lam led the Development Bureau in cracking down unauthorised building works largely found in the indigenous villages in the New Territories. 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". 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.
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.
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.
Chief Secretary for AdministrationEdit
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.
2014 political reform and protestsEdit
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.
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.
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.
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. The constitutional reform proposals were defeated in the Legislative Council in June 2015.
Lead-in-water scandal and controversiesEdit
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." 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.
Palace Museum controversyEdit
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. Lam previously said that she would retire in the English countryside with her family after her term ended in 2017.
2017 Chief Executive bidEdit
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". 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.
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. It was reported that Zhang told the electors that the Politburo of the Communist Party had decided to support Carrie Lam in the election.
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. 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 will be the first female leader of Hong Kong and the first candidate to elect without leading in the polls. She is also 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.
Chief Executive of Hong Kong (2017–present)Edit
Lam received the appointment from Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on 11 April 2017. Lam was sworn in by General Secretary of the Communist Party and President Xi Jinping, on 1 July 2017, the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Special Administrative Region. Lam is the first female Chief Executive.
Disqualifications of localistsEdit
In July 2017 weeks after Lam sworn in, four pro-democracy legislators 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. Lam pledged she would not target more pro-democrats in oath-taking controversy.
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."
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 her advocated for "self-determination" on her 2016 electoral platform. 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."
Express Rail Link co-location controversyEdit
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. 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.
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.
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. 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 President Xi Jinping. Lam entering the venue side-by-side with Xi and ahead of Macau Chief Executive Fernando Chui and 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.
National Anthem Bill controversyEdit
In response to the concerns and call for a white bill and public consultation for the controversial National Anthem Bill which raised concerns over the freedom of expression, Lam dismissed it by stating that "I do not understand why one has to insist on the term 'public consultation'," calling the term only a "label". She also insisted the proposed bill only targets people who deliberately insult the national anthem and the residents not to worry about it.
Lantau Tomorrow VisionEdit
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. 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.
UGL case controversyEdit
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 recipient 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.
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 profession call and she hoped the UGL saga, which had been a point of contention for four years, could finally end.
Elderly CSSA and $4,000 handout controversiesEdit
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.
The government was also under fire by the HK$4,000 handout scheme proposed in the 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.
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. 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. 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."
Extradition law controversyEdit
A 19-year-old Hong Kong resident being arrested and tried in Taiwan for killing his 20-year-old girlfriend in 2018 sparked the debate of Hong Kong's fugitive law. At present, the two ordinances, the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance, are not applicable to the requests for surrender of fugitive offenders and mutual legal assistance between Hong Kong and Mainland China, Macau and Taiwan and therefore the government does not have any legislation enabling it to request for extraditing the suspect. In February 2019, the government proposed a changes to fugitive laws to plug the "legal loophole" by establishing a mechanism for case-by-case transfers of fugitives to any jurisdiction with which the city lacks a formal extradition treaty.
Opposition expressed fears about the city opening itself up to the long arm of Mainland Chinese law and Hongkongers could be victimised under a different legal system and urged the government to establish an extradition arrangement with Taiwan only. The business community also raised concerns over the mainland’s court system. The American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) criticised that mainland's "criminal process is plagued by deep flaws, including lack of an independent judiciary, arbitrary detention, lack of fair public trial, lack of access to legal representation and poor prison conditions". The Liberal Party and the Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong, the two pro-business parties, suggested 15 economic crimes being exempted from the 46 offences covered by the extradition proposal. The government backed down on proposal to after business chambers voice concern by exempting nine economic crimes. Only offences punishable by at least three years in prison would trigger the transfer of a fugitive, up from the previously stated one year.
Three human rights groups, the Amnesty International, Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor, and Human Rights Watch opposed the bill, warning the extradition proposal could be used as a tool to intimidate critics of the Hong Kong or Chinese governments, peaceful activists, human rights defenders and putting those extradited at risk of torture or ill-treatment. On 28 April, estimated 130,000 protesters joined the march against proposed extradition law. The turnout was the largest since an estimated 510,000 joined the annual July 1 protest in 2014. A day after the protest, Lam insisted the bill to be carried out anyway and said the Legislative Councillors must still pass new extradition laws before their summer break, even though the man at the heart of a case used to justify the urgency of new legislation was jailed for 29 months shortly before.
Lam also said the mainland was never intentionally excluded from the extradition laws ahead of the handover of Hong Kong in 1997. "It was not what was said, that there were fears over the mainland’s legal system after the handover, or that China had agreed to it. This is all trash talk," Lam said. But her claim was refuted by last colonial governor of Hong Kong Chris Patten and last colonial Chief Secretary Anson Chan.
In 1984, Carrie Lam married Chinese mathematician Lam Siu-por, whom she met while studying at Cambridge. Lam Siu-por obtained his PhD in algebraic topology in 1983, under the supervision of Frank Adams.
Lam Siu-por used to teach at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and retired to England, but has since taught some short courses at the Capital Normal University in Beijing. The couple have two sons, Jeremy and Joshua, who studied in England.
Their elder son Jeremy joined Xiaomi, 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.
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.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor.|
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Carrie Lam|
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Chief executive-elect Carrie Lam received her appointment order from Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Tuesday morning to serve as Hong Kong’s next leader, beginning July 1.
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- Siu-Por Lam at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
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| Director of Social Welfare
| Permanent Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands (Planning and Lands)
| Director-General of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, London
| Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs
as Secretary for the Environment, Transport and Works
| Secretary for Development
as Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands
| Chief Secretary for Administration
| Chief Executive of Hong Kong
| President of Executive Council|
|Order of precedence|
|First|| Hong Kong order of precedence
Chief Justice of the Court of Final Appeal