Carrie Lam

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For the Hong Kong television presenter and actress, see Carrie Lam (actress).
The Honourable
Carrie Lam
Carrie Lam 2017 1.jpg
Chief Executive of Hong Kong
Taking office
1 July 2017
Succeeding Leung Chun-ying
Chief Secretary for Administration
In office
1 July 2012 – 16 January 2017
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying
Preceded by Stephen Lam
Succeeded by Matthew Cheung
Secretary for Development
In office
1 July 2007 – 30 June 2012
Preceded by Sarah Liao (Secretary for Environment, Transport & Works)
Michael Suen (Secretary for Housing, Planning & Lands)
Succeeded by Mak Chai-kwong
Personal details
Born Cheng Yuet-ngor
(1957-05-13) 13 May 1957 (age 59)[1]
Wan Chai, Hong Kong[2]
Nationality Hong Kong Chinese
British (until 2007)
Spouse(s) Lam Siu-por (m. 1984)
Children Lam Jit-si
Lam Yeuk-hei
Parents Cheng Ah-mo
Alma mater St. Francis' Canossian College
University of Hong Kong
Wolfson College, Cambridge (diploma course)
Religion Roman Catholicism
Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese 林鄭月娥
Simplified Chinese 林郑月娥
Vietnamese name
Vietnamese Lâm Trịnh Nguyệt Nga

Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, GBM, GBS, JP (Chinese: 林鄭月娥; born 13 May 1957) is the Chief Executive-designate of Hong Kong, after winning in the 2017 Chief Executive election.[3] Before that she was the Chief Secretary for Administration of Hong Kong SAR Government, the most senior rank of principal officials of Hong Kong, from 2012 to 2017.

After graduating from the University of Hong Kong, Lam joined the civil service in 1980 and has served in various bureaux and departments. She became a principal official in 2007 when she was appointed Secretary for Development. During her service, she earned the reputation as a "tough fighter" from her handling of the demolition of the Queen's Pier.

She became the Chief Secretary under Leung Chun-ying administration in 2012. She headed the Task Force on Constitutional Development on the political reform from 2013 to 2015 and held talks with the student leaders during the large-scale occupation protests in 2014. In January 2017, she announced her candidacy in the Chief Executive election after she had resigned as Chief Secretary. Lam won the election with 777 votes in the 1,194-member Election Committee, being the first female head and first Chief Executive of Hong Kong to have graduated from the University of Hong Kong.

Early life and education[edit]

Born to a low-income family of Zhoushan ancestry in Hong Kong, Lam was the fourth of five children.[4][5][2] Lam grew up in Lockhart Road, Wan Chai that she finished her primary and secondary education at St. Francis' Canossian College, a Catholic girls' school in the neighborhood.[6][7][8][9]

After graduation, Lam attended the University of Hong Kong majoring in social work.[6] As a student, Lam was an activist and advocated on behalf of the Yau Ma Tei boat people, who faced a difficult situation.[8] She once took part in a sit-in outside the government headquarters and organized exchange trips to Tsinghua University.[5][4] Through her student activism she came to know Lee Wing-tat and Sin Chung-kai who later became prominent pro-democrat legislators. To better understand society and participate more actively in student activities, she switched her course of study from social work to sociology after the first year to avoid placements.[8][6] Lam eventually graduated with a Bachelor of Social Sciences in 1980.[1][10]

Whilst in government service, Lam attended a one-year diploma course in Development Studies at the University of Cambridge from 1981 to 1982 and received a Fulbright Fellowship on attachment to a US federal agency for several months in 1988.[11]

Civil service career[edit]

Lam joined the Administrative Service in 1980 after she graduated from the University of Hong Kong. She has served in various bureaux and departments, spending about seven years in the Finance Bureau which involved in budgetary planning and expenditure control. She worked initially as Principal Assistant Secretary and subsequently as Deputy Secretary for the Treasury in the 1990s.[11]

In 2000, Lam was promoted as the Director of Social Welfare Department during the period of high unemployment and severe fiscal deficits in Hong Kong. She tightened the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance scheme and making it available only to people who had lived in Hong Kong for more than seven years, excluding the new immigrants. With other senior officials, he set up the We Care Education Fund, raising over HK$80 million to meet the long term education needs of children whose parents have died of SARS epidemic in 2003. In November 2003, Lam was appointed Permanent Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands (Planning and Lands) and chairman of the Town Planning Board. She was soon appointed Director-General of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in London in September 2004.[11]

On 8 March 2006, Lam returned to Hong Kong to take up the position as Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs. She was involved in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and Paralympics Equestrian Events and the West Kowloon Cultural District plan.[11]

Secretary for Development[edit]

Carrie Lam facing conservationists at a public forum at the Queen's Pier in July 2007

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 July 2007, she attended a public forum at Queen's Pier in a bid to persuade the protesters to disperse and allow the demolition to begin. She firmly repeated the government’s position that it was not an option to retain the pier and she would "not give the people false hope".[12] Her handling of the pier conflict earned her a reputation as a "tough fighter" by the then Chief Secretary for Administration Rafael Hui.[13]

Lam also put forward a new Urban Renewal Strategy to lower the threshold for compulsory sale for redevelopment from 90 percent to 80 percent in 2010. Human rights organisations criticised the policy as benefiting the big real estate developers and violating the right to housing as recognised by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights as the bargaining power of the small owners would be undermined.[14]

In 2012, Lam led the Development Bureau in cracking down unauthorised building works largely found in the indigenous villages in the New Territories.[15] 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".[16] Lam also tried to tackle the "Small House Policy", which has been subject to abuse amidst a land crunch. The policy gives male indigenous villagers in the New Territories the right to build a house close to their ancestral homes but the policy has drawn criticism because in some cases, it has been abused for profit.[8][15]

In recognition of her achievements as Secretary for Development, she was awarded honorary member of the Hong Kong Institute of Landscape Architects, honorary fellow of the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers, Property Person of the Year in the RICS Hong Kong Property Awards 2012, Honorary Member of the Hong Kong Institute of Architects, honorary member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, honorary fellow member of the Hong Kong Institute of Architectural Conservationists, and honorary fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers.[11]

During the 2012 Chief Executive election, Lam cracked down on the unauthorised building works of Chief Executive candidate Henry Tang who was contesting Leung Chun-ying. That scandal put paid to Tang’s hopes of becoming Chief Executive. Leung was later found to also have unauthorised building works at his house. Lam was criticised for letting him get away with it.[15]

Chief Secretary for Administration[edit]

After hinting she would retire in the United Kingdom with her family, Lam received appointment to become the Chief Secretary for Administration under Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying on 1 July 2012. Her popularity started to shrink as Chief Secretary as the Moral and National Education controversy sparked in the first months of the Leung administration, which saw Lam's popularity rating dipped two percentage points from 64 percent to 62 percent.[17]

2014 political reform and protests[edit]

Carrie Lam in May 2014.

In October 2013, she became the head of the Task Force on Constitutional Development headed by the with Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen and Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Raymond Tam which was responsible for the constitutional reform consultation for the electoral methods for the 2017 Chief Executive election and 2016 Legislative Council election. 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.[18]

During the midst of the occupation protests, Lam also held talks in a televised open debate with student leaders on 21 October. In the talks, Lam stood firm by stating that students' proposal of civil nomination falls outside of the framework imposed by the Basic Law and the NPCSC decision, which cannot be retracted.[19] The political reform 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.[8] The constitutional reform proposals were defeated in the Legislative Council in June 2015.

Lead-in-water scandal and controversies[edit]

Lam sparked controversy when she was the only principal official not to offer an apology for the lead-in-water scandal, insisting that, "even though the commission’s hearings reflected an inadequate awareness by government departments and flaws in the monitoring system, it did not necessarily equate to particular officials not following laws or neglecting duties – because of that, they do not have to bear personal responsibility."[20] She fought back pan-democrat legislators in a Legislative Council meeting, criticising the pan-democrats for politicising the scandal, stating that she could be as bold as she wants as "a government official with no expectation is always courageous". Her words were criticised for being arrogant.

She stirred another controversy when she, in a speech to open the Caritas Bazaar in 2015, Lam cited the eight Beatitudes, saying "Some said that the eighth blessing applies very well to me – it says, 'blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven' – there is already a place reserved for me in heaven." Senior cleric, The Reverend Thomas Law Kwok-Fai, told the media "No one would say that about themselves… I won’t dare to myself", while a senior lecturer at the Chinese University of Hong Kong said that Lam sounded arrogant.[21]

Palace Museum controversy[edit]

In December 2016, Lam was under fire when she announced a deal with Beijing for the plans for a Hong Kong Palace Museum as the chair of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority without any public consultation and transparency during the decision-making process. She was also criticised for appointing architect Rocco Yim Sen-kee to start a HK$4.5 million feasibility study for building the museum and exhibition centre complex behind closed doors months before the authority board chose the architect as its design consultant. Lam linked the backlash to her announcement that she would "reconsider" running in the 2017 Chief Executive election after incumbent Leung Chun-ying said he would not seek a second term.[22] Lam previously said that she would retire in the English countryside with her family after her term ended in 2017.[8][23]

2017 Chief Executive bid[edit]

Lam formally announced her plan to enter the 2017 Chief Executive election after resigning as Chief Secretary on 12 January 2017, ending her 36-year government career. She also set out what she described as an eight-point "achievable new vision" with a call to play to "strengths with determination and confidence".[24] The press conference was hosted alongside Executive Councillor Bernard Chan, who became the director of Lam's campaign office. The chairmen’s committee of the campaign office would be composed of heavyweights, such as former Hong Kong Stock Exchange chairman Ronald Arculli.[25]

Carrie Lam held an election rally with her star-stubbed campaign team on 3 February 2017.

An election rally was held on 3 February with the campaign slogan of "We Connect" including the catchwords "We Care, We Listen, We Act". The rally was attended by many pro-Beijing figures and tycoons from both the Henry Tang and Leung Chun-ying camps in the last election. She also revealed a star-studded campaign team, which included council of chairpersons consisting of Ronald Arculli, Laura Cha, Moses Cheng, Jonathan Choi Koon-sum, Timothy Fok, Lam Tai-fai, Eddy Li Sau-hung, Victor Lo, Lo Man-tuen, Anthony Wu, Yu Kwok-chun and Allan Zeman; senior advisers consisting of heavyweights including senior pro-Beijing politicians including Chan Wing-kee, Cheng Yiu-tong, Hung Chao-hong and Rita Fan, tycoons such as Robin Chan, Aron Harilela, Xu Rongmao, Robert Kuok, Peter Lam, Vincent Lo, Robert Ng, Peter Woo and Charles Yeung and others such as Lawrence Lau, Lau Chin-shek, Li Fung-ying and Joseph Yam.[26]

On 6 February, multiple media reports said National People's Congress (NPC) chairman Zhang Dejiang, who was simultaneously head of the Communist Party's Central Coordination Group for Hong Kong and Macau Affairs, and Sun Chunlan, head of the party's United Front Work Department, were in Shenzhen to meet with some Election Committee members from the major business chambers and political groups.[27] It was reported that Zhang told the electors that the Politburo of the Communist Party headed by General Secretary Xi Jinping had decided to support Carrie Lam in the election.[28]

After days of candidates meeting with the Election Committee members from different sectors to canvass at least 150 nominations in order to enter the race, by 27 January multiple reports speculated that Carrie Lam had already secured 300 to 400 nominations. Heung Yee Kuk and the New Territories Association of Societies (NTAS) stated that they inclined to nominate Lam.[29] Together with pro-Beijing parties Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB), Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions (FTU), and Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong (BPA), as well as Import and Export subsector and Sports and Culture sub-subsectors, Lam was estimated to grab more than 500 nominations. Although she was widely seen to have secured more than a minimum number of 150 nominations in the early stage, she reportedly aimed at securing more than 600 nominations to project herself as a clear winner before the secret ballot.[citation needed]

Carrie Lam announced her manifesto on 27 February 2017.

In response to the criticism of not having a full election platform, Lam revealed her manifesto titled "Connecting for Consensus and A Better Future" on 27 February, two days before the nomination period ended. The platform focused on reforming the government structure and boosting the economy, including expanding the Central Policy Unit, establishing a Culture Bureau and a new Tourism Bureau and dividing Transport and Housing Bureau into two, but did not make any promise on relaunching the political reform or Article 23 legislation.[30]

Carrie Lam submitted a total of 579 nominations on 28 February, just 22 votes short of the final number needed to win the race. Lam dominated in the pro-Beijing business and politics sectors, winning three-quarters of the votes in the business sector, but failed to receive any nomination from the pro-democracy camp. Although receiving all nominations from sectors such as Commercial (Second), Agriculture and Fisheries, Catering, Heung Yee Kuk, Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and Sports, contrary to observers’ expectations, the Labour subsector, which is dominated by the pro-Beijing Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions (FTU), also returned only five out of its 60 nominations to Lam as its legislator Wong Kwok-kin earlier expressed reservations about Lam’s proposed labour policies, although it was seen as Lam's strategy to reserve her strength.[31][32] Same happened to the pro-Beijing-dominated Hong Kong Chinese Enterprises Association and Hong Kong and Kowloon District Councils subsectors which commanded 73 votes combined, handed only two nominations to Lam.[citation needed]

On 26 March 2017, Lam was elected Chief Executive with 777 votes in the 1,194-member Election Committee, 197 more votes than she got in the nomination period. She will be the first female leader of Hong Kong and the first candidate to elect without leading in the polls. She is also the first leader to have graduated from the University of Hong Kong. She pledged to "heal the social divide" and "unite our society to move forward" in her victory speech.[33]

Personal life[edit]

Carrie Lam is the fourth child of five siblings. In 1984, she married mathematician Lam Siu-por, whom she met while studying at Cambridge.[23] Lam Siu-por obtained his PhD in algebraic topology in 1983, under the supervision of Frank Adams.[34] Lam Siu-por used to teach at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and retired to England, but has since taken up a job at the Capital Normal University in Beijing.(edit conflict) The couple have two sons who studied in England.[citation needed] Their eldest son joined a mobile company in Beijing in April 2016.[citation needed] All three of her family members are British citizens.[citation needed]


In recognition of her career achievements and contributions to the community, Lam was awarded the Gold Bauhinia Star and the Grand Bauhinia Medal in 2010 and 2016. In 2013 she was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Social Sciences by Lingnan University and was made an Officier de la Légion d’Honneur by the French Government in 2015.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Ho, Andrew (15 January 2013). "The SAR's Superlady" (PDF). The Student Standard. Hong Kong. pp. 6–7. Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 3 October 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "HK Tramways grows with time". Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government. 18 July 2014. Retrieved 3 October 2014.  Lam stated in a speech "To those who were born and brought up in Hong Kong like me"
  3. ^ "Hong Kong chooses first woman head". The Hindu. March 26, 2017. 
  4. ^ a b "林鄭由住板間房到進軍禮賓府 仕途兩度「轉線」鋪排今日攀峰之路". HK01. 12 January 2017.  (Traditional Chinese)
  5. ^ a b "The tough side of nanny carrie". The Standard. 13 January 2017. 
  6. ^ a b c "Lam bares the `bad records' in her life". The Standard. Hong Kong. 3 May 2016. Retrieved 3 May 2016. 
  7. ^ "Wan Chai: Evolution of a District". CornerStone. Swire Properties. 2013. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f "Hong Kong protests: 8 things you might not know about Carrie Lam, Hong Kong's Chief Secretary". The Straits Times. Singapore. 3 October 2014. Retrieved 3 October 2014. 
  9. ^ "Carrie Lam: I need my husband to lean on". South China Morning Post. 21 October 2013. 
  10. ^ "港下屆特首熱選林鄭月娥 形象「好打得」". Central News Agency Taiwan. Taiwan. 10 December 2016. Retrieved 10 December 2016.  (Traditional Chinese)
  11. ^ a b c d e f "The Hon Mrs Carrie LAM CHENG Yuet-ngor, GBM, GBS, JP - Chief Secretary for Administration" (PDF). The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. 
  12. ^ "'Good fighter' plus 'peacemaker', but can Carrie Lam hold up the sky?". South China Morning Post. 15 December 2016. 
  13. ^ "【林鄭發特首夢】你要謹記「好打得」的十大劣政". Apple Daily. 12 January 2017. 
  14. ^ "強拍條例 林鄭企硬三不 不撤回 不修訂 若否決不會再推". Apple Daily. 16 March 2010. 
  15. ^ a b c "Illegal building works may be ticking time bomb for Carrie Lam". South China Morning Post. 29 December 2016. 
  16. ^ "Minister robbing villagers of rights, says kuk". South China Morning Post. 20 June 2012. 
  17. ^ "Tearful Carrie Lam says she put reputation on the line". South China Morning Post. 8 September 2016. 
  18. ^ "Yung, Chester. Carrie Lam: Hong Kong to Delay Discussions on Political Reform", The Wall Street Journal. 29 September 2014.
  19. ^ Ap, Tiffany (21 October 2014). "No breakthrough as Hong Kong officials open talks with students". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 23 October 2014. 
  20. ^ Cheng, Albert (2 June 2016). "Why Carrie Lam doesn't have what it takes to be Hong Kong's next chief executive". South China Morning Post. 
  21. ^ "Chief Sec. Carrie Lam says there is a place reserved for her in heaven". Hong Kong Free Press. 2 November 2015. 
  22. ^ "Hong Kong Chief Secretary Carrie Lam links Beijing Palace Museum row to leadership bid". South China Morning Post. 10 January 2017. 
  23. ^ a b "Mom's the word for a retired Lam". The Standard. 4 May 2016. 
  24. ^ "Carrie Lam declares bid to lead Hong Kong". South China Morning Post. 12 January 2017. 
  25. ^ "Keeping continuity in Hong Kong politics without the hardline is a balancing act". South China Morning Post. 16 January 2017. 
  26. ^ "Carrie Lam opts for 'we connect' as campaign slogan, promising to break stalemate, overcome division in Hong Kong society". South China Morning Post. 3 February 2017. 
  27. ^ "State leader Zhang Dejiang meets Hong Kong politicians and business leaders in Shenzhen". South China Morning Post. 6 February 2017. 
  28. ^ "【特首跑馬仔】張德江南下深圳傳話 消息人士:張稱林鄭是中央唯一支持的特首人選 (11:05)". Ming Pao. 6 February 2017. 
  29. ^ "【特首選戰】曾水火不容今和解?鄉議局27選委傾向提名林鄭". Apple Daily. 24 January 2017. 
  30. ^ "Carrie Lam's election manifesto focuses on economy, government reforms". South China Morning Post. 27 February 2017. 
  31. ^ "Carrie Lam dwarfs the competition, enters Hong Kong chief executive race with 579 nominations". South China Morning Post. 28 February 2017. 
  32. ^ "【特首選戰】葉劉寸工聯會「做戲」 薯片叔溫提奶媽多爭泛民票". Apple Daily. 28 February 2017. 
  33. ^ "'The work of uniting society begins now': Carrie Lam pledges to heal Hong Kong's divide". South China Morning Post. 26 March 2017. 
  34. ^ Siu-Por Lam at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
Government offices
Preceded by
Leung Kin-pong
Director of Social Welfare
Succeeded by
Paul Tang
Preceded by
John Tsang
Permanent Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands (Planning and Lands)
Succeeded by
Rita Lau
Preceded by
Leung Kin-pong
Director-General of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, London
Succeeded by
Agnes Allcock
Preceded by
Shelley Lee
Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs
Succeeded by
Carrie Yau
Political offices
Preceded by
Sarah Liao
as Secretary for the Environment, Transport and Works
Secretary for Development
Succeeded by
Mak Chai-kwong
Preceded by
Michael Suen
as Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands
Preceded by
Stephen Lam
Chief Secretary for Administration
Succeeded by
Matthew Cheung
Preceded by
Leung Chun-ying
Chief Executive of Hong Kong-elect
Succeeded by
Order of precedence
Li Dak-Sum
Recipient of the Grand Bauhinia Medal
Hong Kong order of precedence
Recipient of the Grand Bauhinia Medal
Succeeded by
Tam Yiu-chung
Recipient of the Grand Bauhinia Medal