Global Media

Hong Kong civil servant becomes first female chief executive

Hong Kong Chief Executive candidates former Financial Secretary John Tsang and former Chief Secretary Carrie Lam react at a debate in Hong Kong China 14 March 2017

Lam, the city's first female leader, will formally take office on July 1. Leung's unexpected early departure was widely seen as a sign that Beijing may change its hardline approach towards Hong Kong, despite his recent promotion to the vice-chairmanship of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

A committee dominated by pro-Beijing elites selected Carrie Lam, the Hong Kong government's former No. 2 official, as the financial hub's chief executive.

"It shows how ridiculous our system is", he said.

He told his supporters Sunday that he believed Lam would "stand by the core values of Hong Kong".

Recent polls showed that Lam's popularity rating at 30%, trailing her major challenger, ex-financial chief John Tsang Chun-wah, by almost 20 percentage points.

"I extend my honest congratulations to Mrs Carrie Lam on her successful election and I will submit later today a report of the election results to the Central People's Government", he said. "This reflects. the failure of reflecting public opinions".

Hong Kong is guaranteed civil liberties and a high degree of autonomy under the terms of the 1997 handover that returned the city, a former British colony, to Chinese rule - an arrangement known as "one country, two systems".

From Beijing's perspective, politics is the most important agenda.

"If that's the case, she might have a lot of debts that she has to repay to her supporters in Beijing".

Hong Kong's election committee chose former government official Carrie Lam as the city's next leader on Sunday, local broadcaster Cable TV reported. "This is the worst scheme for us, the worst news for us today in Hong Kong". "This election system is not democratic".

Meanwhile, hundreds of demonstrators unhappy with the small-circle nature of the election converged on the Convention Center, some of them later making the five-kilometer trek to the central government's liaison office, now the center of power in Hong Kong, to voice their dissatisfaction with the preordained result. A total of 1,163 valid votes were cast.

She also faces the task of restarting political reform. She has given her thoughts on the issue before, but tackling the challenge as a chief executive will be hard. "My priority will be to heal the divide", she said in a victory speech.

"It will simply make governing Hong Kong much more hard in the next five years, and [is] not good for one country, two systems", he warned.

"There is a serious divide in Hong Kong, so why don't we start with the easier subjects and try to reach consensus" on how to tackle those other problems first, she said.

"Popularity certainly is important, but maintaining a good working relationship with the central government is also crucial", said Li Ka-shing, Hong Kong's richest man, a few days earlier.

Political support from Beijing, which wields significant influence over the election committee, ensured her victory.

When mass rallies erupted in 2014, it was Mrs Lam who defended Beijing's unpopular proposal - to allow Hong Kong people to choose their leader but only from pre-approved candidates - to crowds of protesters demanding full democracy.

Woo, a 71-year-old retired judge seen as a moderate candidate, was expected to garner pro-democracy electors' support before they threw their weight behind Tsang. "Carrie will an need extra pump to mend fences", he said. Young people are wondering about the delay of political reforms.

"That is not the only thing that makes me sad and angry", Chan says.

Indeed, there was little in Tsang's policy platform that would be regarded as remotely controversial.