Carrie Lam as Chief Executive of Hong Kong
|Carrie Lam Government|
5th Government of the Hong Kong
Special Administrative Region
|Date formed||1 July 2017|
|People and organisations|
|Head of state||Xi Jinping|
|Head of government||Carrie Lam|
|No. of ministers||16|
|Member parties||DAB, BPA, FTU, LP, NPP|
|Status in legislature||Pro-Beijing majority|
|Opposition party||Pro-democracy camp|
|Election(s)||2017 Chief Executive election|
|Legislature term(s)||6th Legislative Council|
The administration of Carrie Lam as Chief Executive of Hong Kong, or Lam administration, officially referred to as "The 5th term Chief Executive of Hong Kong" relates to the period of governance of Hong Kong since the transfer of sovereignty of Hong Kong headed by Chief Executive Carrie Lam, between 1 July 2017 and 30 June 2022.
- 1 Election
- 2 Transitional period
- 3 Cabinet
- 4 Extra fundings
- 5 Oath-taking controversy
- 6 Localist candidates' disqualification
- 7 Express Rail Link co-location controversy
- 8 National Anthem Bill
- 9 Lantau Tomorrow Vision
- 10 UGL case controversy
- 11 Elderly CSSA and $4,000 handout controversies
- 12 Extradition law controversy
- 13 References
In the 2017 Chief Executive election, Lam received 777 votes in the 1,194-member Election Committee, beating former Financial Secretary John Tsang's 365 votes and retired judge Woo Kwok-hing's 21 votes. Lam was the first female Chief Executive in history, higher than Leung's 689 votes in the last election. She also became the first Chief Executive elected without being the most popular candidate, as she had been trailing behind Tsang in the polls. She pledged to "heal the social divide" and "unite our society to move forward" in her victory speech.
The Hong Kong government established the Office of the Chief Executive-elect ahead of the election with a controversial decision to site the temporary office in Hong Kong’s most expensive business area in Champion Tower on Garden Road, Central. Former postmaster general Jessie Ting Yip Yin-mei was appointed as the head of the office, who Internet users said looked similar to Carrie Lam.
One day after Lam vowed to "heal the social divide" in her victory speech, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's government pressed charges against nine key players in the 2014 Occupy protests, immediately sparking controversy whether Leung embarrassed Lam. Leung also blocked Carrie Lam’s pledge to scrap Territory-wide System Assessment (TSA) for Primary Three pupils.
On 4 May 2017, former Director of Immigration Eric Chan was appointed the Director of the Office of the Chief Executive-elect as well as the Office of the Chief Executive she was sworn in after 1 July.
Carrie Lam announced her new cabinet on 21 June 2017, with six incumbent ministers keep their portfolios including the three top secretaries.
- Commissioner of Police: Stephen Lo
- ICAC Commissioner: Simon Peh
- Director of Audit: David Sun
- Commissioner of Customs and Excise: Hermes Tang
- Director of Immigration: Erick Tsang
Executive Council non-official members
|Members||Affiliation||Portfolio||Assumed Office||Left Office||Born In||Ref|
|Bernard Chan||Nonpartisan||Non-official Convenor of the ExCo||1 July 2012||Incumbent||1951|
|Laura Cha||Nonpartisan||Chairman of the Financial Services Development Council||19 October 2004||Incumbent||1949|
|Arthur Li||Nonpartisan||Chairman of the Council of the University of Hong Kong||1 July 2012||Incumbent||1945|
|Chow Chung-kong||Nonpartisan||Chairman of the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing||1 July 2012||Incumbent||1950|
|Fanny Law||Nonpartisan||Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks||1 July 2012||Incumbent||1953|
|Jeffrey Lam||BPA||Legislative Council Member & Vice-Chairman of BPA||17 October 2012||Incumbent||1951|
|Ip Kwok-him||DAB||Hong Kong Deputy to the National People's Congress &
former Vice-Chairman of DAB
|17 March 2016||Incumbent||1951|
|Martin Liao||Nonpartisan||Legislative Council Member||25 November 2016||Incumbent||1957|
|Tommy Cheung||Liberal||Legislative Council Member, Chairman of Liberal Party||25 November 2016||Incumbent||1949|
|Joseph Yam||Nonpartisan||Executive Vice President of the China Society for Finance and Banking||1 July 2017||Incumbent||1948|
|Lam Ching-choi||Nonpartisan||Chairman of the Elderly Commission||1 July 2017||Incumbent||1960|
|Regina Ip||NPP||Legislative Council Member & Chairperson of NPP||1 July 2017||Incumbent||1950|
|Ronny Tong||Path of Democracy||Senior Counsel & Convenor of Path of Democracy||1 July 2017||Incumbent||1950|
|Wong Kwok-kin||FTU||Legislative Council Member & former Chairman of FTU||1 July 2017||Incumbent||1952|
|Kenneth Lau||BPA||Legislative Council Member & Chairman of Heung Yee Kuk||1 July 2017||Incumbent||1966|
|Horace Cheung||DAB||Legislative Council Member & Vice-Chairman of DAB||1 July 2017||Incumbent||1974|
In her first week in office, Carrie Lam offered subsidies to around 40,000 secondary school leavers and promised permanent jobs for more than 2,300 teachers and promised that she would spend the extra HK$5 billion a year on education.
In January 2018, Lam again handed out HK$500 million in extra funding to the Hong Kong’s public hospitals amid the deluge of winter flu cases and a severe shortage of nursing staff. The funds would be drawn by the Hong Kong Hospital Authority from its own reserve of HK$1 billion and would later be reimbursed by the government in the financial year 2018/19.
The legal action by the former Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen had resulted in the unseating of four more pro-democracy legislators, Leung Kwok-hung, Nathan Law, Yiu Chung-yim and Lau Siu-lai on 14 July 2017 after two pro-independence legislators Sixtus Leung and Yau Wai-ching were ousted from the legislature earlier in November 2016. The event caused the quick deterioration of the relations between the pro-democracy camp and the government after the strained relations had been improved compared to Lam's predecessor. Lam pledged she would not target more pro-democrats in oath-taking controversy.
Localist candidates' disqualification
In the 2018 Legislative Council by-election after the qualification, the candidacy of Demosistō standing committee member Agnes Chow, was invalidated by the returning officer as she claimed that "the candidate cannot possibly comply with the requirements of the relevant electoral laws, since advocating or promoting 'self-determination' is contrary to the content of the declaration that the law requires a candidate to make to uphold the Basic Law and pledge allegiance to the [Hong Kong Special Administrative Region]." The European Union issued a statement warning that banning Chow from the by-election "risks diminishing Hong Kong’s international reputation as a free and open society". Carrie Lam defended the returning officer's decision, but denied that she had anything to do with the returning officer, stating that "there are absolutely no grounds for that sort of accusation or allegation of pressure."
In the November 2018 Kowloon West by-election, the candidacy of the ousted legislator Lau Siu-lai was also disqualified by the Returning Officer as her advocated for "self-determination" on her 2016 electoral platform. Her ally and elected legislator Eddie Chu, who signed the same statement in the 2016 election, was also barred from running in the rural representative election in December 2018. Lam supported the Returning Officer's decision that "had been made in accordance with the Rural Representative Election Ordinance."
Express Rail Link co-location controversy
The proposed "co-location arrangement" of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link has sparked concerns that it might constitute a breach of the Hong Kong Basic Law and undermine Hong Kong's autonomy of "one country, two systems", participially with immigration control. Under the arrangement, mainland customs officers will be allowed to set up checkpoints and exercise jurisdiction at the West Kowloon Station.
On 28 December 2017, the Hong Kong Bar Association criticised the arrangement for distortion of the Basic Law, stating it damages the rule of law in Hong Kong as Article 18 was clearly written and leaves no room for any interpretation which would allow Chinese law to apply in any certain part of HKSAR. Since there is no legal basis, confidence in the "one country, two systems" principle will decline. The Hong Kong government has defended the co-location agreement, stating that rule of law isn't damaged nor does undermine the Basic Law. Carrie Lam responded to criticism by stating "some Hong Kong legal professionals have an elitist mentality or double standards, that is, they think that Hong Kong’s legal system is supreme, and that the mainland legal system – a big country with a 1.3 billion population – is wrong." Her statement prompted widespread disbelief as she appeared to defend China's legal system being better than Hong Kong's legal system, hypocrisy as she herself is seen as an elite out of touch with society, damaged the One Country, two systems principle and for attacking the character rather the arguments of Hong Kong's top lawyers.
The long-debated plan was finally passed on 14 June 2018 in the Legislative Council by 40 to 20 votes after Legislative Council President Andrew Leung capped debate time for the bill at 36 hours to counter pro-democrats' filibustering. The cross-border Express Rail Link was opened on 22 September 2018, followed by the opening of another cross-border infrastructure Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge on 23 October 2018 by paramount leader Xi Jinping. Lam entering the venue side-by-side with Xi and ahead of Macau Chief Executive Fernando Chui and First Vice Premier Han Zheng. The entrance raised eyebrows among those who saw it as a departure from protocol for her to walk in front of top mainland officials.
National Anthem Bill
The Hong Kong government has proposed the local implementation of the National Anthem Law of the People's Republic of China. Lam dismissed the calls for a public consultation for the controversial bill as some provisions deemed as too vague by the pro-democrats. Lam stated that "I do not understand why one has to insist on the term 'public consultation'," calling the term only a "label". She also insisted the proposed bill only targets people who deliberately insult the national anthem and the residents not to worry about it.
Lantau Tomorrow Vision
In October 2018, Lam launched a development plan in her second policy address which suggested the construction of artificial islands with a total area of about 1,700 hectares through massive land reclamation near Kau Yi Chau and Hei Ling Chau of the eastern waters of Lantau Island. The project meets with controversies and opposition for its high cost of estimated HK$500 billion (US$63.8 billion) – amounting to half of the city’s fiscal reserves, as well as environmental concerns.
UGL case controversy
On 12 December 2018, the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) announced it would not take any "further investigative action" against Leung Chun-ying over his recipient of HK$50 million from the Australian engineering firm UGL, ending the four-year marathon probe. The Department of Justice also issued a statement claiming there was "insufficient evidence to support a reasonable prospect of conviction" against Leung for any criminal offence.
Carrie Lam defended Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng who was strongly criticised for not following the conventional procedure of seeking external legal advice in the UGL case. Lam said Cheng had made a profession call and she hoped the UGL saga, which had been a point of contention for four years, could finally end.
Elderly CSSA and $4,000 handout controversies
In January 2019, the Lam administration announced that the age threshold for elderly Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) would jump from 60 to 65, starting in February. She faced opposition from both the pro-Beijing and pro-democracy legislators, in which she responded that it was the Legislative Council who approved the change in the CSSA scheme, as part of the 2018 Budget. Her remarks attracted backlashes from the legislators as well as the public. On 18 January, Lam backed down by announcing that people affected would get a new employment support supplement that would cover the cut. The Lam government also made an U-turn by suspending the controversial plan to impose a HK$200 penalty on Hong Kong’s senior citizens claiming welfare payments without joining a job programme.
The government was also under fire by the HK$4,000 handout scheme proposed in the 2018 Budget in which adult residents would get up to HK$4,000 if they do not own property or get government benefits. The application procedure was criticised for being too complicated. Applicants were initially required to provide an address proof. Facing the criticism, the government later waived the address proof requirement.
Amid the UGL case and the mismanagements, the average score of Carrie Lam further plunged to a new low in mid January to 50.9 in the poll by the University of Hong Kong, dropping 5.5 points from the previous month. Her net approval rating fell 21 percentage points to a new low. In another poll conducted by Chinese University of Hong Kong, Lam scored the lowest point of only 50.9 per cent – 1.8 percentage points lower than the previous month. Lam softened her tone after the widespread criticism. "The implementation of these measures has made people question the ability of this administration to govern," Lam said. "I completely accept this criticism."
Extradition law controversy
A 19-year-old Hong Kong resident being arrested and tried in Taiwan for killing his 20-year-old girlfriend in 2018 sparked the debate of Hong Kong's fugitive law. At present, the two ordinances, the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance, are not applicable to the requests for surrender of fugitive offenders and mutual legal assistance between Hong Kong and Mainland China, Macau and Taiwan and therefore the government does not have any legislation enabling it to request for extraditing the suspect. In February 2019, the government proposed a changes to fugitive laws to plug the "legal loophole" by establishing a mechanism for case-by-case transfers of fugitives to any jurisdiction with which the city lacks a formal extradition treaty.
Opposition expressed fears about the city opening itself up to the long arm of Mainland Chinese law and Hongkongers could be victimised under a different legal system and urged the government to establish an extradition arrangement with Taiwan only. The business community also raised concerns over the mainland’s court system. The American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) criticised that mainland's "criminal process is plagued by deep flaws, including lack of an independent judiciary, arbitrary detention, lack of fair public trial, lack of access to legal representation and poor prison conditions". The Liberal Party and the Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong, the two pro-business parties, suggested 15 economic crimes being exempted from the 46 offences covered by the extradition proposal. The government backed down on proposal to after business chambers voice concern by exempting nine economic crimes. Only offences punishable by at least three years in prison would trigger the transfer of a fugitive, up from the previously stated one year.
Three human rights groups, the Amnesty International, Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor, and Human Rights Watch opposed the bill, warning the extradition proposal could be used as a tool to intimidate critics of the Hong Kong or Chinese governments, peaceful activists, human rights defenders and putting those extradited at risk of torture or ill-treatment. On 28 April, estimated 130,000 protesters joined the march against proposed extradition law. The turnout was the largest since an estimated 510,000 joined the annual July 1 protest in 2014.
Lam also said the mainland was never intentionally excluded from the extradition laws ahead of the handover of Hong Kong in 1997. "It was not what was said, that there were fears over the mainland’s legal system after the handover, or that China had agreed to it. This is all trash talk," Lam said. But her claim was refuted by last colonial governor of Hong Kong Chris Patten and last colonial Chief Secretary Anson Chan.
- "'The work of uniting society begins now': Carrie Lam pledges to heal Hong Kong's divide". South China Morning Post. 26 March 2017.
- "Hong Kong government finally sets up office for chief executive-elect after controversy over cost". South China Morning Post. 20 March 2017.
- "Hong Kong Chief Executive CY Leung blocks Carrie Lam's pledge to scrap TSA". South China Morning Post. 28 March 2017.
- "Hong Kong chief executive-elect Carrie Lam puts former head of immigration in charge of office". South China Morning Post. 4 May 2017.
- "Next Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam announces her new cabinet". South China Morning Post. 21 June 2017.
- "Hong Kong's new leader doles out extra billions in education spending spree". South China Morning Post. 6 July 2018.
- "Swamped Hong Kong hospitals to get HK$500 million to handle winter flu emergency". South China Morning Post. 30 January 2018.
- "Hong Kong pan-democrats warn of Legislative Council turmoil". South China Morning Post. 18 July 2017.
- "I won't target more Hong Kong pan-democrats in oath-taking saga, Carrie Lam says". South China Morning Post. 15 July 2017.
- "Hong Kong's leader rejects foreign criticism over barring of democracy activist Agnes Chow from legislative by-election". South China Morning Post. 30 January 2018.
- "Hong Kong's leader rejects foreign criticism over barring of democracy activist Agnes Chow from legislative by-election". South China Morning Post. 30 January 2018.
- "'Gov't twisted my words': Lau Siu-lai leads democrats in protest against her election ban". Hong Kong Free Press. 13 October 2018.
- "No plan to unseat Eddie Chu from Legco, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam says of lawmaker barred from rural election over independence views". South China Morning Post. 4 December 2018.
- "Why we shouldn't stick to the co-location arrangement". EJ Insight.
- "Beijing's 'distortion' of Hong Kong Basic Law greatly undermines rule of law, legal experts warn". Hong Kong Free Press. 28 December 2017.
- "Gov't advisor Ronny Tong: Beijing's joint checkpoint justification does not harm rule of law". Hong Kong Free Press. 29 December 2017.
- "Prescribed boundaries ensure joint checkpoint's legitimacy". China Daily. 8 January 2018.
- "'Rule without law': Hong Kong lawyers hit back as leader Carrie Lam attacks 'elitist mentality'". Hong Kong Free Press. 2 January 2018.
- "Hong Kong's controversial China rail checkpoint bill finally passed by lawmakers amid protests, delays and expulsions". South China Morning Post. 14 June 2018.
- "Chinese President Xi Jinping hails Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge as showpiece of innovation and integration". South China Morning Post. 23 October 2018.
- "No need for formal consultation over law against national anthem abuse, says Hong Kong leader". South China Morning Post. 17 March 2018.
- "Lantau a development priority". Hong Kong Government. 10 October 2018.
- "Former Hong Kong chief executive CY Leung cleared of any wrongdoing over HK$50 million UGL payment after four-year ICAC probe". South China Morning Post. 12 December 2018.
- "Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam defends Justice Secretary's decision not to seek external advice in CY Leung case". South China Morning Post. 28 December 2018.
- "Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam admits welfare failings after uproar over elderly CSSA changes and cash handout applications". South China Morning Post. 29 January 2019.
- "Approval ratings for Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam and justice chief Teresa Cheng hit new lows". South China Morning Post. 15 January 2019.
- "Another U-turn on welfare as HK$200 penalty for elderly Hongkongers not seeking work put on hold". South China Morning Post. 28 January 2019.
- "LCQ3: Proposed amendments to Fugitive Offenders Ordinance and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance". Government Information Services. 27 March 2019.
- "Extradition bill not made to measure for mainland China and won't be abandoned, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam says". South China Morning Post. 1 April 2019.
- "Extradition agreement with mainland China would damage Hong Kong's 'safe reputation' for business, AmCham says". South China Morning Post. 6 March 2019.
- "Ex-Hong Kong chief secretary Henry Tang and Exco member Jeffrey Lam join business sector in criticising extradition deal with mainland China". South China Morning Post. 7 March 2019.
- "Hong Kong-mainland China extradition plan to be watered down by exempting 9 economic crimes, under intense pressure from business community". South China Morning Post. 26 March 2019.
- "Estimated 130,000 protesters join march against proposed extradition law that will allow transfer of fugitives from Hong Kong to mainland China". South China Morning Post. 28 April 2019.
- "Former Hong Kong officials Chris Patten and Anson Chan contradict Chief Executive Carrie Lam's claim that mainland China was not deliberately excluded as a destination for fugitive transfers". South China Morning Post. 12 May 2019.
| Government of Hong Kong