Carrie Lam and her swansong

April 13, 2022 11:01
Photo: Reuters

One does not miss her until she is about to go.

That probably explains the sharp rebound of the public opinion poll of outgoing Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, whose rating in April was 33.4, up 6.8 from March, according to the Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute.

Of course, it is still a bad report card for a civil servant with 42 years of experience, and her net approval rate of negative 65 was pretty much the same as in March. But at least her rating went back to the pre-Fifth Wave level in January.

The fact that the number of local Covid cases has been trending down in the past month certainly helped but the popularity rebound was mainly because she would not seek a second term.

Her deputy John Lee Ka-chiu has stolen her limelight with a daily record of 11 media stand-ups on Monday after declaring his intention to run the next Chief Executive earlier.

Lee is about to submit his over 700 nominations, or about half of the total voters from the election committee, later today.

There seems to be a marked difference between Lam and Lee. While both are hands-on and firm, Lee appeared to be more open-minded and team playing.

Commentators noted Lee’s slogan “starting a new chapter for Hong Kong together” was a stark difference with incumbent Lam who used “I’ in a press conference 30 times on Monday.

No doubt Lam was super-hardworking. In a document submitted to the Legco, the Home Affairs Bureau said Lam issued 721 press releases in the year of 2021/22, 70 per cent more than previous year. That works out to be almost twice a day.

One can hardly miss her presence because she has been holding the 11 am press conference for a month. Lam said she would stop after the number of cases drops to below 1,000 per day, which is likely to mean after Easter.

Few would miss the five years she presides when Hong Kong faced the most challenging social, political and public health issues as over 100,000 people chose to leave their beloved city for different reasons.

Only history would be a good judge, but we cannot stop missing her debut in 2017 when her popularity reached a record 63.6. Every Chief Executive, from Tung Chee-hwa to Donald Tsang to Leung Chun-ying, had a honeymoon period. But for our first female Chief Executive, her nightmare is just too long.

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EJ Insight writer

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