Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam will not run for a second term

The decision was her “personal desire and aspiration” and was dictated entirely by “family considerations,” Lam said at a press conference a day after the opening of the nomination period for the post.

She added that she informed Beijing of her decision in March last year during the annual meeting of the Chinese Parliament. Her term of office expires on June 30.

“It will also mean that I am ending my 42 years of public service,” she said, adding that she has not yet decided on her future plans.

There have been speculations about whether Lam, who has the lowest public approval rating since the UK returned Hong Kong to China in 1997, will again race for the lead on May 8.

Lam took office in 2017, promising to “fix” a divided society. But two years later, it became the center of widespread anger and discontent as millions took to the streets to protest a controversial extradition bill with China.

These protests soon began to present greater public concerns about China’s growing influence and control over the semi-autonomous city.

And while Lam eventually withdrew the bill months after the protests began, by then it was too late to contain public anger fueled by allegations of excessive police use and calls for increased democracy.

The emergence of Covid-19 in early 2020, followed by the introduction of a national security law that year, ended the protest movement.

A law promulgated by Beijing determined Lam’s tenure, reshaping the city’s social and political landscape. In accordance with the law, democratic activists and politicians were arrested, and many major trade unions, human rights groups and the media were disbanded.

And while Hong Kong was initially protected from the worst of the pandemic thanks to strict border controls and restrictions on daily life, new options that are spreading rapidly have once again plunged the city and Lam’s administration into crisis.

The city’s per capita death rate has been the highest in Asia and Oceania every day since Feb. 28, due in part to low vaccination rates for the elderly.

Although the peak appears to have passed and the number of new cases is decreasing day by day, the wave has reignited anger towards Lam and the government, who are accused of poor preparation during a public health crisis that has been brewing for two years.

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With the position of chief executive officer currently on the hunt, local media have singled out former police officer and chief secretary John Lee, as well as finance minister Paul Chan, as potential contenders.

The chief executive will be chosen by the Electoral Commission, which is dominated by Beijing.

Last year, Beijing introduced sweeping electoral reforms that gave local governments more power to vet candidates and ensure that only “patriots” can run as candidates. In June, a new oath of allegiance was introduced for all elected officials in Hong Kong, from local councilors to lawmakers, preventing pro-democracy candidates from gaining access to civil office.

Several Western countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, have raised concerns about the drastic change in Hong Kong’s electoral system, with the US State Department saying in a recent report that China played an “unprecedented role in determining Hong Kong’s outcome.” elections.”

The Hong Kong government hit back at both countries, saying on Friday that the rights and freedoms of citizens are “well protected”.

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