Would Carrie Lam be elbowed out of the CE race?

October 20, 2021 10:03
Chief Executive Carrie Lam with a fractured elbow Photo: Facebook

Poor Carrie Lam fell down the stairs at her Government House Monday night.

After receiving a treatment of her elbow fracture, she left the Queen Mary Hospital in a sling at around 9am, just minutes before her regular Exco Tuesday meeting which she had cancelled due to the injury.

The health of the 64 year-old chief exeuctive is a matter of concern because she is a workaholic and has not taken holiday for almost three years.

Lam is not the only senior government official having had an arm injury. Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng, for example, suffered a fracture in her wrist in London where she was surrounded by dozens of anti-fugitive bill protesters, so was Sophia Chan, Secretary for Food and Health, who hurt her arm while exercising in 2015.

In the final year of her five-year term, Lam has been working extra hard these days in the hope of running Hong Kong for another five years. And that is definitely not good for health.

Look at the first Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa, who stepped down before completing his second term due to health problems in 2005. Tung, 84, had undergone a surgery at Queen Mary last month and did not show up in the National Day celebration.

Both Tung and Lam are unpopular leaders but they are seen to be trusted by Beijing.

For Lam, she just delivered a policy address that outlined the development of the Northern Metropolis in the next 20 years, a plan that aims to integrate Hong Kong into the Greater Bay Area and solve the city’s chronic housing supply problem.

The policy address is seen as an indication of her ambition to run for a second term, which Beijing is expected to drop more hints on its preferences in coming months.

So far other than Lam, Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po and Chief Secretary John Lee Ka-chiu are seen as her close competitors.

It would be interesting to watch how an elbow fracture would affect Carrie Lam. In her Facebook, Lam said she is expected to recover within three weeks.

The incumbent got an upper hand because she, as in the case of Carrie Lam, is the boss who could exert control on all matters.

That also explained why former government officials such as Henry Tang Ying-yen and John Tsang Chun-wah quitted their positions to run for the top job in 2012 and 2017 respectively.

As a chief executive, one is not required to quit the job if she wants to run again.

According to the Hong Kong Economic Journal report, the government has made it clear in the Panel on Constitution Affairs that the existing regulation do not require the Chief Executive to quit if she wants to seek a re-election.

The incumbent can still enjoy the transport, security and secretariat service but it has to be stated clearly what resources are allocated to the election campaign through the reporting system.

Her predecessors Tung and Donald Tsang Yam-kuen both sought re-election without quitting the job.

But the elbow fracture, no matter how minor the injury she revealed, added uncertainty to the question of her re-election in the coming weeks. Pull a chair and watch the show.

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EJ Insight writer