Carrie Lam has resigned from her role as Chief Secretary. She is widely expected to announce a bid for the chief executive position soon.

The government announced in a press release that Chief Executive CY Leung received Lam’s resignation on Thursday, and Lam will begin her leave on Friday.

Update: The only reason for my resignation is to run for Chief Executive, says Lam

Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, will be the acting chief secretary, it said.

Carrie Lam. File Photo: GovHK.

Lam, 59, joined the government administration in 1980. Prior to her appointment as Chief Secretary on July 1, 2012, she served in various positions such as Director of Social Welfare; Permanent Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands; Director-General of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in London; Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs; and Secretary for Development.

Lam previously stated her wish to retire as – having served in government for 37 years – she will reach retirement age next July. However, after incumbent Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying announced last month that he will not seek a second term, Lam said she would reconsider her situation.

See also: ‘Fear and concern’: Democrats foresee more of CY’s combative style, as Carrie Lam eyes top job

On Tuesday, Leung said that Lam was “busy doing her duties every day,” and that “there is no issue of her being distracted.” She made repeated visits to the mainland over the Christmas break.

Museum row

Lam has been embroiled in controversy recently, after she announced last month that she had signed a cooperation agreement with Beijing’s Palace Museum to build a HK$3.5 billion counterpart museum at the West Kowloon Cultural District. The deal was done, and an architect brought on board, before any public consultation took place.

The Chief Executive Elections are scheduled to take place on March 26, 2017. So far, retired judge Woo Kwok-hing and New People’s Party lawmaker Regina Ip Lau Shuk-yee have announced that they will be running for the position.

Woo Kwok-hing, Regina Ip and John Tsang. Photo: HKFP/Apple Daily/GovHK.

John Tsang also resigned from his role as Financial Secretary last month, a day after Sunday’s Chief Executive Committee elections, but has yet to make any formal announcement as to whether he will enter the leadership race.

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Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.