22 October 2016
Carrie Lam visits Sichuan in May to take pictures with a panda, fueling speculation she will run in the chief executive election. Photo: ECNS
Carrie Lam visits Sichuan in May to take pictures with a panda, fueling speculation she will run in the chief executive election. Photo: ECNS

Carrie Lam: Nothing more than a damp squib

It’s almost certain that Chief Secretary Carrie Lam will run for chief executive next year.

Just look at how she kissed up to her mainland bosses at a recent event by echoing their assertion that Hong Kong has been part of China “since ancient times”. 

Recently, Lam made a rare comment about Article 107 of the Basic Law, which states that the government should always live “within its means”.

Given the government’s huge surplus, there is room for the administration to allocate more resources into improving social welfare, she said.

But that’s not her place to lecture us about public spending. This is the job of Financial Secretary John Tsang.

The fact she waded into the matter suggests her election campaign is under way. She has taken it a step further by targeting her potential opponents.

Also, Lam is the most vocal and most high-profile supporter of the decision of the Electoral Affairs Commission to disqualify pro-independence activists from the Sept. 4 Legislative Council elections.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen have refrained from taking a stance on this sensitive issue to avoid criticism.

But Lam is perhaps the only principal official who has been publicly rooting for the EAC’s decision in an apparent effort to please Beijing and demonstrate her loyalty.

The only thing that could have motivated her at the risk of angering the public is her lust for power.

Lam’s increasingly provocative remarks about pro-independence activists and her support for the EAC’s unpopular decision could backfire.

So rather than curbing separatism, those comments might generate more public sympathy for the pro-independence cause, giving Beijing an even bigger excuse to interfere in our affairs.

Lam’s actions are typical of old-school civil servants — they’re mainly concerned about getting promoted quickly even at the expense of the public interest.

Once they’re promoted, nobody will care about or hold them accountable for mistakes made in the past.

And this is exactly how Carrie Lam worked her way to the top.

One might recall that when she was head of the development bureau from 2007 to 2012, she vowed to remove all illegal structures from residential premises across the New Territories despite fierce opposition from indigenous clans.

She quickly became the most popular bureau chief in Doanld Tsang’s cabinet because of her no-nonsense approach to powerful vested interests.

Once she got promoted to chief secretary, she forgot her promises. Since then, nobody has ever called her out for those broken promises, evidently because she is now the highest ranking civil servant.

I have always had a very low opinion of Carrie Lam not only because of her mediocrity and big ego but also because of her tunnel vision, ignorance, selfishness and complete disdain for the underprivileged and new immigrants.

If the bosses in Beijing had the least understanding of the state of affairs in Hong Kong, they would notice that Carrie Lam is not a good choice for chief executive.

In fact, chances are things might get worse if she was put in charge.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Aug. 16

Translation by Alan Lee with additional reporting

[Chinese version 中文版]

– Contact us at [email protected]


Carrie Lam is probably the most high-profile supporter of the Electoral Affairs Commission’s decision to disqualify pro-independence activists from the upcoming Legco elections. Photo: CNSA

HKEJ columnist

EJI Weekly Newsletter