Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam says she will not seek second term

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam, who survived massive protests against her government in 2019 and oversaw the implementation of a tough national security law that quashed dissent, said on Monday she would not would not seek a second term.

His successor will be chosen in May.

“I will end my five-year term as chief executive on June 30 this year, and I will also end my 42 years of public service,” Lam told a news conference.

Speculation had swirled for months about whether she would seek another term, but she said her decision was conveyed to the central government in Beijing last year and was met with “respect and understanding”.

Massive protests against the territory’s government rocked Hong Kong in 2019, including calls for Lam to step down. Beijing responded in 2020 with a tough national security law that stifled dissent in the semi-autonomous Chinese city.

Hong Kong media say his number 2, John Lee, is expected to enter the race to succeed him. Chief Secretary Lee was the city’s security chief during the protests.

Hong Kong’s leader is elected by a committee made up of lawmakers, representatives of various industries and professions, and pro-Beijing representatives such as Hong Kong deputies to the Chinese legislature. One of the unmet demands of the 2019 protests was the direct election of the city’s chief executive.

The city was originally scheduled to hold the Chief Executive’s election on March 27, but the ballot was delayed six weeks to May 8 in light of the city’s worst coronavirus outbreak.

Lam said holding the polls as originally planned would pose “public health risks” even if a committee of just 1,462 people is involved.