A new office for Hong Kong’s former chief executive Carrie Lam, located above a luxury mall in Admiralty, will cost more than HK$22 million of taxpayers’ money over three years.

Pacific Place shopping mall
Pacific Place, a shopping mall in Admiralty. Photo: Wikicommons.

According to the Administrative Wing, monthly rent for the 2,874 square foot office in the Pacific Place shopping and office complex will be HK$377,000 as part of a three-year rental contract.

Renovation work, including the cost of furniture and other furnishing, will total HK$8.7 million.

Traditionally, the government sets up offices for Hong Kong’s chief executives following the completion of their terms. There, according to the Wing’s website, they can conduct activities including “receiving visiting dignitaries and delegations, giving local and overseas media interviews, and taking part in speaking engagements.”

Carrie Lam
Chief Executive Carrie Lam met the press on June 17. Photo: Lea Mok/HKFP.

Lam’s office, which will begin operations at the end of July, is the first among those opened by former chief executives to be located in commercial property.

In 2007, authorities established the Office of Former Chief Executives at a Grade I historic building in Mid-Levels. It is currently home to the offices of Tung Chee-hwa, Donald Tsang and Leung Chun-ying.

But the Administrative Wing said the government building can only accommodate three former chief executives, so another site had to be sought for Lam.

former office chief executive 28 kennedy road
The Office of Former Chief Executives at 28 Kennedy Road in Mid-Levels. Photo: Wikicommons.

Taking into account factors including location, security and the convenience of meeting “people from all sectors,” the Central and Admiralty districts were seen as the most suitable.

The government announced last month that Lam’s new office would be located on the eighth floor of One Pacific Place.

One Pacific Place
The 8th floor of One Pacific Place. Photo: Candice Chau/HKFP.

According to the website of Swire Properties, which owns One Pacific Place, the office building has tenants including consulting firm Deloitte, financial services company Moody’s and other global firms.

Carrie Lam office
Two units on the 8th floor of One Pacific Place under renovation rumoured to be former chief executive Carrie Lam’s office. Photo: Candice Chau/HKFP.

The expense for the office has already been accounted for in the government’s budget and does not require funding approval from the Legislative Council.

‘Expensive and unnecessary’

The government said the “staffing support” for Lam’s office would be “generally on par” with previous chief executives.

According to the Administrative Wing, each former chief executive is supported by a chauffeur, a senior personal assistant and an assistant clerical officer.

Carrie Lam
Chief Executive Carrie Lam attending a Legislative Council Q&A session on June 9, 2022. Photo: Lea Mok/HKFP.

Lawmaker Dominic Lee slammed the expense as “too expensive and unnecessary,” the SCMP reported. “I don’t understand why a separate office needs to be rented in such a premium location… so much taxpayers’ money will be spent,” he said.

The total estimated expenditure for the three former chief executives in 2021-2021 was HK$11.4 million, including “staff costs,” “hire of services and professional fees” and “other general departmental expenses” but excluding rent and renovation costs.

Lam’s term was marked by months of large-scale protests in 2019 and the Covid-19 pandemic. She was succeeded on July 1 by Chief Executive John Lee, who was the sole candidate in the leadership race.

In her final weeks in office, Lam defended her record, despite being Hong Kong’s least popular leader, telling lawmakers she had “written a perfect full stop to 42 years in public service.”

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Hillary Leung is a journalist at Hong Kong Free Press, where she reports on local politics and social issues, and assists with editing. Since joining in late 2021, she has covered the Covid-19 pandemic, political court cases including the 47 democrats national security trial, and challenges faced by minority communities.

Born and raised in Hong Kong, Hillary completed her undergraduate degree in journalism and sociology at the University of Hong Kong. She worked at TIME Magazine in 2019, where she wrote about Asia and overnight US news before turning her focus to the protests that began that summer. At Coconuts Hong Kong, she covered general news and wrote features, including about a Black Lives Matter march that drew controversy amid the local pro-democracy movement and two sisters who were born to a domestic worker and lived undocumented for 30 years in Hong Kong.