I'm no CY Leung 2.0, says Carrie Lam

Former chief executive Mr Tung hugging Mrs Lam last month. Mrs Lam says Mr Tung has stopped his usual practice of hugging her to avoid speculation that she has been favoured for the chief executive job.
Former chief executive Mr Tung hugging Mrs Lam last month. Mrs Lam says Mr Tung has stopped his usual practice of hugging her to avoid speculation that she has been favoured for the chief executive job.PHOTO: SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST

HONG KONG • A day after her boss praised her for being capable and accountable, former chief secretary Carrie Lam sought to distance herself from the outgoing chief executive.

Mrs Lam told local media on Wednesday that Mr Leung Chun Ying and she are "totally different people" as they have different backgrounds and had different career paths.

The 59-year-old, who announced her candidacy for the top job on Monday, sought to project herself as her own woman in Hong Kong's leadership election.

"This election would be on my own effort. I am confident enough to run in this election."

Appearing on two radio shows, Mrs Lam clarified her earlier remarks on wishing to continue Mr Leung's policies, saying she had not meant that she would follow in his footsteps if she won the March 26 election.

Mrs Lam has been labelled "Leung Chun-ying 2.0" by her critics and is widely seen as Beijing's preferred choice to succeed Mr Leung, who is unpopular among Hong Kongers. Repeated endorsements from the city's pro-China newspapers and a hug from former chief executive Tung Chee Hwa last month in front of the cameras have fuelled talk that she has been "blessed" by Beijing.

NOTHING UNUSUAL

He would hug me every time we meet. But now he told me 'I'm not hugging you as it has raised so much speculation'.

FORMER CHIEF SECRETARY CARRIE LAM, on a hug from former Chief Executive Tung Chee Hwa last month that fuelled talk that she has been "blessed" by Beijing.

In her media interviews this week, Mrs Lam dismissed such talk and said it was not unusual for Mr Tung to hug her when they meet.

"He would hug me every time we meet. But now he told me, 'I'm not hugging you as it has raised so much speculation,'" Mrs Lam was quoted as saying by South China Morning Post.

She said she had been in regular contact with Mr Tung, who is close to the leadership in Beijing, for some time, reported the Post.

"We would meet up for tea and chats occasionally and talk about state affairs or Sino-American relations," she said on Wednesday.

She said she had met central government officials to discuss quitting her job to run for chief executive, but saw "no need" to visit Beijing's liaison office because of the election, which she hoped would be "fair and impartial".

She went on to claim that she had kept a low profile while serving as chief secretary because her job was to assist the chief executive, reported the Post.

On Tuesday, Mr Leung described Mrs Lam as "an accountable and capable minister" who "has been willing to tackle problems that had accumulated in the city for a long time".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 20, 2017, with the headline 'I'm no C.Y. Leung 2.0, says Lam'. Print Edition | Subscribe