Executive Council convener Bernard Chan floated the possibility of Carrie Lam being a two-term chief executive, while ruling himself out as a candidate for the job.
Speaking to RTHK, Chan said on Thursday that Lam’s policies responded to the needs of society and she “definitely has the ability” to run for re-election.
“The current administration is in place for almost two years, and it is very practically minded. Since Lam is an experienced civil servant, people can see that she has very strong implementation skills,” Chan said.
He added that he would not be up to the job of chief executive: “I believe people will be more hesitant when they know what the job really entails. It is not as easy as people think.”
Chan was speaking from Beijing, where he was attending the “two sessions” – China’s annual meeting of top lawmakers and political advisers. Chan is a Hong Kong deputy at the National People’s Congress.
He was also Lam’s campaign manager during the small-circle chief executive election in March 2017. When Lam took office, she compared the Executive Council to her “sages” and asked for them to be more involved in policy-making.
On Wednesday, Lam was reportedly praised by China’s Vice-Premier Han Zheng for being “proactive and getting things done.”
Han said at a closed-door meeting with Hong Kong delegates that China will support Lam and her administration’s governance. Han further said that it was not just “normal support” but “full support,” and said it would regularly make suggestions to Lam’s administration.
Zhang Xiaoming, Beijing’s top official on Hong Kong and Macau affairs, also said on Wednesday that Lam “won widespread acclaim” for her participation in the Greater Bay Area plans and the Belt and Road Initiative.
Zhang also praised Lam for being “responsible and proactive” in banning the pro-independence Hong Kong National Party.
According to polling by the University of Hong Kong, Lam’s popularity rating as of February 21 was 50.0 points. It had previously sunk to an all-time low of 45.5 points at the end of January.
Since Hong Kong’s handover in 1997, no chief executive has served more than one five-year term.