Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s achievements shall be left for history to judge, the chairperson of Hong Kong’s biggest pro-establishment party has said. Lam announced on Monday morning that she would not seek a second term.

Starry Lee
Starry Lee. File Photo: Legislative Council, via Flickr.

The Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) party chair Starry Lee said on Monday that she appreciated Lam’s dedication during her years in public service, although she said “it was rather unfortunate that her governance was subject to the global climate and superpowers’ struggles.” Governing a city while the world was in turmoil because of the Covid-19 pandemic and in face of “foreign interference” since the 2019 protests was “not easy,” Lee said.

When asked to comment on Lam’s tenure, Lee cited a poetry verse by Mao Zedong: “Who has passed judgment on the good and ill you have wrought these thousand autumns?” Lam’s “merit should be left to history to judge,” Lee said.

“If I have to criticise, I would say her government handled the fifth wave of the epidemic poorly… but it progressively improved under Lam’s leadership with the central government’s support,” Lee said. “I sincerely hope that Mrs Lam will have a fulfilling family life after she leaves office.”

Lo Kin-hei fundraising
Democratic Party Chairperson Lo Kin-hei in a fund-raising bid on April 19, 2021. File Photo: Democratic Party, via Facebook.

‘Rejected’ from across political spectrum

Democratic Party chair Lo Kin-hei, meanwhile, said he believed Lam’s decision not to run again would be welcomed by people of Hong Kong, as she had been rejected by people regardless of their social class and across the political spectrum.

“Having basic trust and respect between residents and the government is an important factor to the development of society. If a new government cannot rebuild trust with its citizens, [we are] concerned that future governance will continue to require trudging through obstacles.”

Pro-establishment New People’s Party chief Regina Ip called Lam’s announcement “a curtain-raiser to a new era of governance in Hong Kong.”

Ip’s party said it appreciated Lam’s work over the past five years. “Mrs Lam worked tirelessly with the central government’s support and led the HKSAR to do a lot of work, such as implementing the Hong Kong national security law, improving the electoral systems,” a statement read. “The New People’s Party wishes Mrs Lam a joyous life and a happy family after she leaves office.”

Lam announced during her daily Covid-19 briefing on Monday that she would not enter the race, adding that she had received “understanding and respect” for her decision from the central government. The nomination period for candidates, which lasts until April 16, opened the previous day. Local media HK01 reported that ex-police officer Chief Secretary John Lee is likely to run, but the city has yet to see any nominations from political heavyweights as of Monday afternoon.

Regina Ip
Regina Ip. File Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

Lee, of the DAB, said the party looks forward to having a “staunch patriot” as the city’s next leader.

“I hope they will be able to lead Hong Kong back to normalcy, help the economy recover, and resume travel with the mainland and overseas. The future chief executive needs to be able to reunite Hong Kong and all its sectors in rebuilding the city following Covid-19,” she said, adding that a leader must be capable of reforming the city’s land and housing policies, as well as the administration.

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Selina Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist who previously worked with HK01, Quartz and AFP Beijing. She also covered the Umbrella Movement for AP and reported for a newspaper in France. Selina has studied investigative reporting at the Columbia Journalism School.