What's next for Hong Kong after Carrie Lam exits?

Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam will not be running for re-election in the May 8 polls and the city's No. 2 official John Lee has said he plans to run for the top post. Asian Insider looks back at Mrs Lam's tenure, takes a closer look at her likely successor and decipher what Beijing's expectations are.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam's approval ratings are at the bottom of the barrel, especially with her handling of the pandemic. PHOTO: REUTERS

Tough balancing act in politics, unyielding streak mark Carrie Lam's term

Three minutes after Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced on Monday that she will make way for a new Hong Kong leader, finance executive Kelly Chan squealed in delight, telling her friends on WhatsApp about the "great news".

"Let's celebrate!" said Ms Chan, who is in her 30s, while her colleague replied: "Anyone is better than Carrie Lam because she brings bad luck."

Social media was abuzz with the news that the 64-year-old leader will not seek re-election and will complete her term on June 30, putting an end to her 42-year career in government service.

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Timeline: Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam's eventful five-year tenure

Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam completes her five-year term on June 30, putting an end to her 42-year career in government service. Here is a look at the key events which marred her tenure.

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John Lee's perceived weaknesses may be strengths for Hong Kong's top job

Barely a year ago, on his second day on the job as Hong Kong's No. 2 official, Chief Secretary John Lee pointed to himself as a prime example of the myriad opportunities in the city for those willing to work towards their goals.

"As long as you work hard and keep improving yourself, you will achieve your ideals," he said.

He may soon prove that point again. Mr Lee, 64, made known his intention to run for Hong Kong's top job as he announced on Wednesday his resignation from Chief Executive Carrie Lam's administration, which was accepted by China's State Council on Friday (April 8).

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HK Election Committee role likely for ex-leader Leung Chun Ying

Former Hong Kong chief executive Leung Chun Ying will be chief convener of the Election Committee which will decide the city's new leader next month, the local media has cited sources as saying.

The role, which can be taken on only by a state-level leader, was created last year. The move was part of Beijing's overhaul of Hong Kong's political system, aimed at giving the central government more power over the city's top leaders.

Only two people are currently eligible for the role - Mr Leung, 67, and the city's first chief executive Tung Chee Hwa, 84. Both are serving vice-chairmen of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

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Beijing's choice of HK leader candidate shows stability a key factor

With former Chief Secretary John Lee set to be the only candidate in Hong Kong's leadership race, it is now clear who Beijing wants to run the territory.

Other names touted for senior positions include current Secretary for Security Chris Tang and police chief Raymond Siu.

That all three men have similar law enforcement backgrounds is no coincidence. Since the events of 2019 when the city was rocked by pro-democracy protests, China has prized stability above all else, government advisers and academics told The Straits Times.

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