Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has resigned to pave the way for her to join the chief executive election in March.
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has forwarded her resignation letter to the central government, public broadcaster RTHK reports, citing a government statement issued Thursday afternoon.
Secretary for Labour and Welfare Matthew Cheung Kin-chung will act as chief secretary when Lam starts her leave on Friday, the statement said.
Lam had previously said she would retire after this government’s current term ends. However, after CY Leung announced in December that he would not seek a second term, citing family reasons, Lam changed her mind and said she would reconsider running for the city’s top job.
Lam, 59, has been called “Iron Lady” and “Good Fighter” for being a fierce implementer and defender of controversial government policies.
She worked hard for the passage of the government’s Beijing-directed political reform framework, which proposed universal suffrage for this year’s chief executive election with candidates to be vetted by a nomination panel. The proposal was defeated in the Legislative Council.
According to the RTHK report, Lam joined the government as an administrative officer after graduating from the University of Hong Kong in 1980.
She worked in various bureaus and departments, before becoming the director of social welfare in 2000.
She was the permanent secretary for housing, planning and lands from 2003 to 2004, and the head of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in London from 2004 to 2006.
She was appointed development secretary in 2007 and chief secretary in 2012.
So far, only retired judge Woo Kwok-hing, New People’s Party chairwoman Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee and real estate businessman Wu Sai-chuen have officially announced their intention to run in the chief executive race.
Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah, who is also widely expected to announce his entry in the contest, tendered his resignation in December, but Beijing has yet to act on it.
An aspirant needs the support of at least 150 members of the 1,200-strong Election Committee in order to qualify as candidate for chief executive.
The entire committee will then hold a vote to select the chief executive on March 26.
The winner will take office on July 1 following approval by Beijing, the report said.
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