The CE-elect now has a chance to prove that she is better than her predecessor by first picking her council members wisely.
On Sunday 26 March 2017, Carrie Lam was selected by the election committee to be fourth Chief Executive of Hong Kong. Lam will assume office on 1 July 2017.
In the election, held in secret ballot, there were 1,163 valid votes. Lam achieved a landslide majority of 777 votes, while her counterparts John Tsang and Woo Kwok-hing took 365 and 21 votes respectively.
Lam’s electoral victory will break political precedence in Hong Kong in many ways. Not only will Lam be the first female Chief Executive but also the first to be elected with negative net approval rate, which will not afford her a ‘honeymoon’ period. However, the ‘tough fighter’ will have to charge at these problems with predominantly uncooperative parties. The day after her victory, Lam vowed to mend Hong Kong’s social divisions, and eight occupy central celebrity participants were arrested including two legislators, two social activists, a student leader, two university professors and a pastor. Although hardly orchestrated by the government or Lam, it has been interpreted by oppositional forces as a hostile move to topple the pan democrats’ ‘one-third’ control in the Legislative Council, and to undermine their presence in all sectors. To add to this degree of difficulty, there is also resistance from the outgoing establishment. On 28 March 2017 when the Chief Executive-elect expressed her wish to liaise with the incumbent government to halt the Basic Competency Assessment (BCA) for Primary 3 students in May 2017, CY Leung replied a few hours later that “she can cancel it after 1 July” but not on his watch.
In the coming five years, Hong Kong will come to a critical point. Lam will inherit a basket of unanswered questions from her predecessor, and there is no way the Government can continue to dodge all these issues – a rapidly ageing population, radicalising youngsters, an overworked workforce, and insufficient investment on Research and Development. In the meantime, the perceived intervention from China to domestic affairs is wearing some Hong Kong people down, worst still wider society begins to acclimate to it. If the Chief Executive does not correct this perception at such crucial juncture, ‘we connect’ and the one country two systems – a core value – will suffer terminal erosion.
Although Lam does not intend to reorganise the government structure, she has pronounced a major cabinet reshuffle. To show herself not a ‘CY 2.0’, it is likely that she will remove key CY supporters such as the, short stay, Financial Secretary, Paul Chan, and other polarising secretaries such as Secretary for Education Eddie Ng. Lam may also promote several undersecretaries to rejuvenate the Cabinet, and add both women and friendly past co-workers. We share a table to list out potential key members of her cabinet.
|Chief Secretary||Matthew Cheung Kin-chung||
|Financial Secretary||Paul Chan Mo-po||
|Secretary for Justice||Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung||
|Convenor of the Executive Council||Lam Woon-kwong||
|Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development||Gregory So Kam-leung||
|Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury||Caejer Chan Ka-keung||
|Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs||Raymond Tam Chi-yuen||
|Secretary for Education||Eddie Ng Hak-kim||
|Secretary for Development||Eric Ma Siu-cheung||
|Secretary for the Environment||Wong Kam-sing||
|Secretary for Home Affairs||Lau Kong-wah||
|Secretary for Food and Health||Ko Wing-man||
*Other potential key members of Lam’s government include Annie Tam (Permanent Secretary for Labour and Welfare), Jessie Ting Yip Yin-mei (Secretary-General of the Office of the Chief Executive-elect), Lam Woon-kwong (Convenor of Executive Council) and Law Chi-Kwong (Commission on Poverty). However, Law is a member of the Democratic Party. At the moment, the party forbids any of its members to serve either in the Government or the Executive Council.
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Timothy Peirson-Smith is the founder of Executive Counsel and an astute observer of the Hong Kong political scene and chairman of the Business Policy Unit of The British Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong.
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