Carrie Lam(林鄭月娥, born 13 May 1957) is the 4th and current Chief Executive of Hong Kong. She served as the Chief Secretary for Administration from 2012 to 2017, and as Secretary for Development from 2007 to 2012.
In mid 2019, Lam’s government pushed for the controversial amendment to the extradition law. The widespread opposition to the bill and Lam’s hardline approach on the issue sparked massive protests by two million protesters who called for the withdrawal of the bill and her resignation.
Born Cheng Yuet-ngor to a low-income family of Zhoushan ancestry in Hong Kong, Lam was the fourth of five children.
Carrie Lam attended the University of Hong Kong. Through her student activism, she came to know Lee Wing-tat and Sin Chung-kai who later became prominent pro-democrat legislators. As a student, she co-organised exchange trips to Tsinghua University. Lam graduated with a Bachelor of Social Sciences in 1980.
In 1982, as a civil servant, the Hong Kong government funded her studies at Cambridge University, where she met her future husband.
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 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”.
During the 2012 Chief Executive election, Lam cracked down on the unauthorised building works of Chief Executive candidate Henry Tang.
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.
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.
On 26 March 2017, Lam was elected Chief Executive with 777 votes in the 1,194-member Election Committee. She pledged to “heal the social divide” and “unite our society to move forward” in her victory speech.
The push by Carrie Lam’s government to make amendments to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance sparked widespread concerns and opposition within Hong Kong as well as overseas in mid 2019.
The issue gained international attention as the Beijing authorities, the US and EU got involved.
On 12 June, the protest outside the government headquarters later descended into violent clashes with the police.
On 16 June, about two million protesters flooded the streets demanding a full withdrawal of the bill and Carrie’s resignation.
Amid the social upheaval, Lam saw her approval rating fall to a record low of 23 per cent and the disapproval rate rise to 67 per cent, according to a survey released by the University of Hong Kong’s Public Opinion Programme. Her support rating was at 32.8 points, down from 63.6 points during her first week in office, the lowest any of any Chief Executive.
Carrie Lam has offered to resign on several occasions over mass protests in the territory but the Central government refused to accept her resignation.
“The new Lam has developed an affinity to playing hide-and-seek with the public. This is Lam being passive-aggressive, definitely a new style of governance for Hong Kong.” A South China Morning Post article has said.
“This is not the fighter that Lam was known to be. And this is no ‘nanny’, the sexist nickname bestowed upon her when she was the chief secretary, for her special talent in cleaning up other officials’ messes.” The paper reported.
Hong Kong Free Press said in its editorial, “Let’s face it, at this hapless point, our Chief Executive – cursed and reviled on a daily basis for the past two months of anti-extradition madness – is not just a lame duck with three long years to go in her altogether discredited administration; rather, like the bill she was so keen to shove down the throats of 7.4 million Hongkongers, she is “dead” in every sense of the word except the physical.”
In 1984, Carrie married Chinese mathematician Lam Siu-por, whom she met while studying at Cambridge.
The couple have two sons, Jeremy and Joshua, who studied in England. 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.
Edited by staff