Carrie Lam

The Honourable
Carrie Lam
4th Chief Executive of Hong Kong
Assumed office
1 July 2017
Preceded by Leung Chun-ying
Chief Secretary for Administration
In office
1 July 2012  16 January 2017
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying
Preceded by Stephen Lam
Succeeded by Matthew Cheung
Secretary for Development
In office
1 July 2007  30 June 2012
Preceded by Sarah Liao (Secretary for Environment, Transport & Works)
Michael Suen (Secretary for Housing, Planning & Lands)
Succeeded by Mak Chai-kwong
Personal details
Born Cheng Yuet-ngor
(1957-05-13) 13 May 1957[1]
Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, British Hong Kong[2]
Nationality Chinese
Lam Siu-por (m. 1984)
Children 2
Education St. Francis' Canossian College
Alma mater University of Hong Kong
Wolfson College, Cambridge (diploma course)
Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor
Traditional Chinese 林鄭月娥
Simplified Chinese 林郑月娥

Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, GBM, GBS (Chinese: 林鄭月娥; born 13 May 1957) is the 4th and current Chief Executive of Hong Kong.[3] Before that she was the Chief Secretary for Administration, the most senior rank of principal officials of Hong Kong, from 2012 to 2017.

After graduating from the University of Hong Kong, Lam joined the civil service in 1980 and served in various bureaux and departments. She became a key official in 2007 when she was appointed Secretary for Development. During her service, she earned the reputation as a "tough fighter" from her handling of the demolition of the Queen's Pier.

She became Chief Secretary under the Leung Chun-ying administration in 2012. She headed the Task Force on Constitutional Development on the political reform from 2013 to 2015 and held talks with the student leaders during the large-scale occupation protests in 2014.

In the 2017 Chief Executive election, Lam won the three-way election with 777 votes of the 1,194-member Election Committee as the Beijing-favoured candidate, beating former Financial Secretary John Tsang and retired judge Woo Kwok-hing, becoming the first female Chief Executive of Hong Kong.

Early life and education

Born Cheng Yuet-ngor to a low-income family of Zhoushan ancestry in Hong Kong, Lam was the fourth of five children.[4][5][2] She was born and grew up in Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, where she finished her primary and secondary education at St. Francis' Canossian College, a Catholic girls' school in the neighborhood, where she was head prefect.[6][7][8][9]

After graduation, Lam attended the University of Hong Kong majoring in social work.[6] She organised exchange trips to Tsinghua University.[5][4] Through her student activism, she came to know Lee Wing-tat and Sin Chung-kai who later became prominent pro-democrat legislators.

To better understand society and participate more actively in student activities, she switched her course of study from social work to sociology after the first year to avoid placements.[8][6] Lam eventually graduated with a Bachelor of Social Sciences in 1980.[1][10]

In 1982, the Hong Kong Government funded her studies at Cambridge University where she met her future husband, mathematician Lam Siu-por.[11]

Civil service career

Lam joined the Administrative Service in 1980 after she graduated from the University of Hong Kong. She served in various bureaux and departments, spending about seven years in the Finance Bureau which involved in budgetary planning and expenditure control. Initially, she worked as Principal Assistant Secretary and subsequently as Deputy Secretary for the Treasury in the 1990s.[12]

In 2000, Lam was promoted to the position of Director of the Social Welfare Department during a period of high unemployment and severe fiscal deficits in Hong Kong. She tightened the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance scheme, making it available only to people who had lived in Hong Kong for more than seven years, excluding new immigrants. With other senior officials, she helped set up the We Care Education Fund, raising over HK$80 million to meet the long term educational needs of children whose parents died from the SARS epidemic in 2003.

In November 2003, Lam was appointed Permanent Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands (Planning and Lands) and chairman of the Town Planning Board. She was soon appointed Director-General of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in London in September 2004.[12]

On 8 March 2006, Lam returned to Hong Kong to take up the position as Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs. She was involved in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and Paralympics Equestrian Events and the West Kowloon Cultural District plan.[12]

Secretary for Development

On 1 July 2007, Lam left the civil service when she was appointed Secretary for Development by Chief Executive Donald Tsang, becoming one of the principal officials. In the first days of her office, Lam oversaw the demolition of the landmark Edinburgh Place Ferry Pier for the Star Ferry and the Queen's Pier to make way for land reclamation, which triggered occupation protests by the conservationists.

In July 2007, she attended a public forum at Queen's Pier in a bid to persuade the protesters to disperse and allow the demolition to begin. She firmly repeated the government’s position that it was not an option to retain the pier and she would "not give the people false hope".[13] Her handling of the pier conflict earned her a reputation as a "tough fighter" by the then Chief Secretary for Administration Rafael Hui.[14]

Lam also put forward a new Urban Renewal Strategy to lower the threshold for compulsory sale for redevelopment from 90 percent to 80 percent in 2010. Human rights organisations criticised the policy as benefiting the big real estate developers and violating the right to housing as recognised by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights as the bargaining power of the small owners would be undermined.[15]

In 2012, Lam led the Development Bureau in cracking down unauthorised building works largely found in the indigenous villages in the New Territories.[16] The change in law enforcement policy was opposed by leaders of rural communities and the Heung Yee Kuk, a statutory body representing rural interests. The Heung Yee Kuk staged protests against Lam and accused her of "robbing villagers of their fundamental rights".[17] Lam also tried to tackle the "Small House Policy", which has been subject to abuse amidst a land crunch. The policy gives male indigenous villagers in the New Territories the right to build a house close to their ancestral homes but the policy has drawn criticism because in some cases, it has been abused for profit.[8][16]

In recognition of her achievements as Secretary for Development, she was awarded honorary member of the Hong Kong Institute of Landscape Architects, honorary fellow of the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers, Property Person of the Year in the RICS Hong Kong Property Awards 2012, honorary member of the Hong Kong Institute of Architects, honorary member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, honorary fellow member of the Hong Kong Institute of Architectural Conservationists, and honorary fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers.[12]

During the 2012 Chief Executive election, Lam cracked down on the unauthorised building works of Chief Executive candidate Henry Tang who was contesting Leung Chun-ying. That scandal put paid to Tang’s hopes of becoming Chief Executive. Leung was later found to also have unauthorised building works at his house. Lam was criticised for letting him get away with it.[16]

Chief Secretary for Administration

After hinting she would retire in the United Kingdom with her family, Lam received appointment to become the Chief Secretary for Administration under Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying on 1 July 2012. Her popularity started to shrink as Chief Secretary as the Moral and National Education controversy sparked in the first months of the Leung administration, which saw Lam's popularity rating dipped two percentage points from 64 percent to 62 percent.[18]

2014 political reform and protests

In October 2013, she became the head of the Task Force on Constitutional Development headed by Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen and Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Raymond Tam which was responsible for the constitutional reform consultation for the electoral methods for the 2017 Chief Executive election and 2016 Legislative Council election. After Hong Kong Basic Law Committee member Rao Geping explicitly ruled out any form of open nomination for candidates in the 2017 Chief Executive election at a seminar, Lam characterised Rao’s statement as "setting the tune of the gong with a final hit" which received attacks from the pan-democrats that Lam had effectively put an end to consultation on the issue even before it has begun.[19]

After the National People's Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) decreed the restriction on the 2017 Chief Executive election in August 2014, the pro-democracy suffragists launched a large-scale occupation protests which lasted for 79 days. In response to the occupations, Lam announced that the second round of public consultations on political reform, originally planned to be completed by the end of the year, would be postponed.[20]

During the midst of the occupation protests, Lam also held talks in a televised open debate with student leaders on 21 October. In the talks, Lam obdurately resisted, stating that students' proposal of civil nomination falls outside of the framework imposed by the Basic Law and the NPCSC decision, which could not be retracted.[21]

The political reform uproar caused Lam to lose her long-held title as one of the most popular government officials when her approval ratings in a University of Hong Kong poll plunged to its lowest level since she became Chief Secretary.[8] The constitutional reform proposals were defeated in the Legislative Council in June 2015.

Lead-in-water scandal and controversies

Lam sparked controversy when she was the only principal official not to offer an apology for the lead-in-water scandal, insisting that, "even though the commission’s hearings reflected an inadequate awareness by government departments and flaws in the monitoring system, it did not necessarily equate to particular officials not following laws or neglecting duties – because of that, they do not have to bear personal responsibility."[22] She fought back pan-democrat legislators in a Legislative Council meeting, criticising the pan-democrats for politicising the scandal, stating that she could be as bold as she wants as "a government official with no expectation is always courageous". Her words were criticised for being arrogant.

She stirred another controversy when she, in a speech to open the Caritas Bazaar in 2015, Lam cited the eight Beatitudes, saying "Some said that the eighth blessing applies very well to me – it says, 'blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven' – there is already a place reserved for me in heaven." Senior cleric, The Reverend Thomas Law Kwok-Fai, told the media "No one would say that about themselves… I won’t dare to myself", while a senior lecturer at the Chinese University of Hong Kong said that Lam sounded arrogant.[23]

Palace Museum controversy

In December 2016, Lam was under fire when she announced a deal with Beijing for the plans for a Hong Kong Palace Museum as the chair of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority without any public consultation and transparency during the decision-making process. She was also criticised for appointing architect Rocco Yim Sen-kee to start a HK$4.5 million feasibility study for building the museum and exhibition centre complex behind closed doors months before the authority board chose the architect as its design consultant. Lam linked the backlash to her announcement that she would "reconsider" running in the 2017 Chief Executive election after incumbent Leung Chun-ying said he would not seek a second term.[24] Lam previously said that she would retire in the English countryside with her family after her term ended in 2017.[8][25]

2017 Chief Executive bid

Lam formally announced her plan to enter the 2017 Chief Executive election after resigning as Chief Secretary on 12 January 2017, ending her 36-year government career. She also set out what she described as an eight-point "achievable new vision" with a call to play to "strengths with determination and confidence".[26] The election rally with the campaign slogan of "We Connect" including the catchwords "We Care, We Listen, We Act" was attended by many pro-Beijing figures and tycoons from both the Henry Tang and Leung Chun-ying camps in the last election. She also revealed a star-studded campaign team, which included council of chairpersons and senior advisers consisting of heavyweights including senior pro-Beijing politicians and tycoons.[27]

On 6 February, multiple media reports said National People's Congress (NPC) chairman Zhang Dejiang, who was simultaneously head of the Communist Party's Central Coordination Group for Hong Kong and Macau Affairs, and Sun Chunlan, head of the party's United Front Work Department, were in Shenzhen to meet with some Election Committee members from the major business chambers and political groups.[28] It was reported that Zhang told the electors that the Politburo of the Communist Party had decided to support Carrie Lam in the election.[29]

In response to the criticism of not having a full election platform, Lam revealed her manifesto titled "Connecting for Consensus and A Better Future" on 27 February, two days before the nomination period ended. The platform focused on reforming the government structure and boosting the economy, but did not make any promise on relaunching the political reform or Article 23 legislation.[30] Carrie Lam submitted a total of 579 nominations on 28 February, just 22 votes short of the final number needed to win the race. Lam dominated in the pro-Beijing business and political sectors, winning three-quarters of the votes in the business sector, but failed to receive any nomination from the pro-democracy camp.

On 26 March 2017, Lam was elected Chief Executive with 777 votes in the 1,194-member Election Committee, 197 more votes than she got in the nomination period. She will be the first female leader of Hong Kong and the first candidate to elect without leading in the polls. She is also the first leader to have graduated from the University of Hong Kong. She pledged to "heal the social divide" and "unite our society to move forward" in her victory speech.[31]

Chief Executive

Lam received the appointment from Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on 11 April 2017.[32] Lam was sworn in by General Secretary of the Communist Party and President Xi Jinping, on 1 July 2017,[33] the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Special Administrative Region.[34]

Oath-taking controversy

In July 2017 weeks after Lam sworn in, four pro-democracy legislators who were legally challenged for their oath-taking manners by the then Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen were disqualified by the court. The event caused the quick deterioration of the relations between the pro-democracy camp and the government after the strained relations had been improved compared to Lam's predecessor.[35] Lam pledged she would not target more pro-democrats in oath-taking controversy.[36]

In the 2018 Legislative Council by-election triggered by the disqualification, Demosistō candidate Agnes Chow was disqualified for her party's platform of calling for "self-determination". After the European Union issued a statement warning that banning Chow from the by-election "risks diminishing Hong Kong’s international reputation as a free and open society", Lam defended the returning officer's decision, but denied that she had anything to do with the returning officer, stating that "there are absolutely no grounds for that sort of accusation or allegation of pressure."[37]

In July 2017, the Lam administration proposed co-location arrangement of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (XRL) has sparked concerns that it might constitute a breach of the Basic Law and undermine Hong Kong's autonomy of "One Country, Two Systems", especially regarding the immigration control issue. In January 2018, Carrie Lam slammed the Hong Kong Bar Association for its criticism on the "co-location arrangement" which would allow the mainland customs officers will be allowed to set up checkpoints and exercise jurisdiction at the West Kowloon Station.[38] The Bar Association criticised the arrangement for distortion of the Basic Law, stating it damages the rule of law in Hong Kong as Article 18 was clearly written and leaves no room for any interpretation which would allow Chinese law to apply in any certain part of HKSAR.[39] Lam responded by stating that "some Hong Kong legal professionals have an elitist mentality or double standards, that is, they think that Hong Kong’s legal system is supreme, and that the mainland legal system – a big country with a 1.3 billion population – is wrong." Her statement prompted widespread disbelief as she appeared to defend Chinese legal system being better than Hong Kong's legal system which is derived from British system, accusing her of hypocrisy as she herself is seen as an elite out of touch with society, damaging the One Country, two systems principle and for attacking the character instead of the arguments of Hong Kong's lawyers.[40]

National Anthem Bill controversy

In response to the concerns and call for a white bill and public consultation for the controversial National Anthem Bill which raised concerns over the freedom of expression, Lam dismissed it by stating that "I do not understand why one has to insist on the term 'public consultation'," calling the term only a "label". She also insisted the proposed bill only targets people who deliberately insult the national anthem and the residents not to worry about it.[41]

Personal life

In 1984, Carrie Lam married Chinese mathematician Lam Siu-por, whom she met while studying at Cambridge.[25] Lam Siu-por obtained his PhD in algebraic topology in 1983, under the supervision of Frank Adams.[42]

Lam Siu-por used to teach at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and retired to England, but has since taught some short courses at the Capital Normal University in Beijing.[43][44] The couple have two sons, Jeremy and Joshua, who studied in England.[45]

Their elder son Jeremy joined Xiaomi, electronics and software company in Beijing in April 2016. Her husband and both sons are British citizens, while Carrie herself renounced her British citizenship to take up the principal official post in the Hong Kong SAR government in 2007.[46]


In recognition of her career achievements and contributions to the community, Lam was awarded the Gold Bauhinia Star and the Grand Bauhinia Medal in 2010 and 2016. In 2013 she was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Social Sciences by Lingnan University and was made an Officier de la Légion d’Honneur by the French Government in 2015.[12]

See also


  1. 1 2 Ho, Andrew (15 January 2013). "The SAR's Superlady" (PDF). The Student Standard. Hong Kong. pp. 6–7. Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 3 October 2014.
  2. 1 2 "HK Tramways grows with time". Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government. 18 July 2014. Retrieved 3 October 2014. Lam stated in a speech "To those who were born and brought up in Hong Kong like me"
  3. "Hong Kong chooses first woman head". The Hindu. March 26, 2017.
  4. 1 2 "林鄭由住板間房到進軍禮賓府 仕途兩度「轉線」鋪排今日攀峰之路". HK01. 12 January 2017. (Traditional Chinese)
  5. 1 2 "The tough side of nanny carrie". The Standard. 13 January 2017.
  6. 1 2 3 "Lam bares the `bad records' in her life". The Standard. Hong Kong. 3 May 2016. Retrieved 3 May 2016.
  7. "Wan Chai: Evolution of a District". CornerStone. Swire Properties. 2013.
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 "Hong Kong protests: 8 things you might not know about Carrie Lam, Hong Kong's Chief Secretary". The Straits Times. Singapore. 3 October 2014. Retrieved 3 October 2014.
  9. "Carrie Lam: I need my husband to lean on". South China Morning Post. 21 October 2013.
  10. "港下屆特首熱選林鄭月娥 形象「好打得」". Central News Agency Taiwan. Taiwan. 10 December 2016. Retrieved 10 December 2016. (Traditional Chinese)
  11. Tong, Elson (2 April 2017). "Carrie Lam and the Civil Service Part I: Not a typical official". Hong Kong Free Press. Retrieved 3 April 2017.
  12. 1 2 3 4 5 "The Hon Mrs Carrie LAM CHENG Yuet-ngor, GBM, GBS, JP - Chief Secretary for Administration" (PDF). The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
  13. "'Good fighter' plus 'peacemaker', but can Carrie Lam hold up the sky?". South China Morning Post. 15 December 2016.
  14. "【林鄭發特首夢】你要謹記「好打得」的十大劣政". Apple Daily. 12 January 2017.
  15. "強拍條例 林鄭企硬三不 不撤回 不修訂 若否決不會再推". Apple Daily. 16 March 2010.
  16. 1 2 3 "Illegal building works may be ticking time bomb for Carrie Lam". South China Morning Post. 29 December 2016.
  17. "Minister robbing villagers of rights, says kuk". South China Morning Post. 20 June 2012.
  18. "Tearful Carrie Lam says she put reputation on the line". South China Morning Post. 8 September 2016.
  19. Lau, Nai-keung (11 April 2014). "It is how we are going to play the gong that matters". China Daily.
  20. "Yung, Chester. Carrie Lam: Hong Kong to Delay Discussions on Political Reform", The Wall Street Journal. 29 September 2014.
  21. Ap, Tiffany (21 October 2014). "No breakthrough as Hong Kong officials open talks with students". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 23 October 2014.
  22. Cheng, Albert (2 June 2016). "Why Carrie Lam doesn't have what it takes to be Hong Kong's next chief executive". South China Morning Post.
  23. "Chief Sec. Carrie Lam says there is a place reserved for her in heaven". Hong Kong Free Press. 2 November 2015.
  24. "Hong Kong Chief Secretary Carrie Lam links Beijing Palace Museum row to leadership bid". South China Morning Post. 10 January 2017.
  25. 1 2 "Mom's the word for a retired Lam". The Standard. 4 May 2016.
  26. "Carrie Lam declares bid to lead Hong Kong". South China Morning Post. 12 January 2017.
  27. "Carrie Lam opts for 'we connect' as campaign slogan, promising to break stalemate, overcome division in Hong Kong society". South China Morning Post. 3 February 2017.
  28. "State leader Zhang Dejiang meets Hong Kong politicians and business leaders in Shenzhen". South China Morning Post. 6 February 2017.
  29. "【特首跑馬仔】張德江南下深圳傳話 消息人士:張稱林鄭是中央唯一支持的特首人選 (11:05)". Ming Pao. 6 February 2017.
  30. "Carrie Lam's election manifesto focuses on economy, government reforms". South China Morning Post. 27 February 2017.
  31. "'The work of uniting society begins now': Carrie Lam pledges to heal Hong Kong's divide". South China Morning Post. 26 March 2017.
  32. "Carrie Lam receives Hong Kong leadership appointment from Premier Li Keqiang". Hong Kong Free Press. Chief executive-elect Carrie Lam received her appointment order from Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Tuesday morning to serve as Hong Kong’s next leader, beginning July 1.
  33. "庆祝香港回归祖国20周年大会暨香港特别行政区第五届政府就职典礼隆重举行" (in Chinese). Liaison Office (Hong Kong). 1 July 2017. 庆祝香港回归祖国20周年大会暨香港特别行政区第五届政府就职典礼1日上午在香港会展中心隆重举行。中共中央总书记、国家主席、中央军委主席习近平出席并发表重要讲话。
  34. "Hong Kong's first female chief executive Carrie Lam sworn in by President Xi Jinping, as city marks 20 years since handover". South China Morning Post. 1 July 2017.
  35. "Hong Kong pan-democrats warn of Legislative Council turmoil". South China Morning Post. 18 July 2017.
  36. "I won't target more Hong Kong pan-democrats in oath-taking saga, Carrie Lam says". South China Morning Post. 15 July 2017.
  37. "Hong Kong's leader rejects foreign criticism over barring of democracy activist Agnes Chow from legislative by-election". South China Morning Post. 30 January 2018.
  38. "Why we shouldn't stick to the co-location arrangement". EJ Insight.
  39. "Beijing's 'distortion' of Hong Kong Basic Law greatly undermines rule of law, legal experts warn". Hong Kong Free Press. 28 December 2017.
  40. "'Rule without law': Hong Kong lawyers hit back as leader Carrie Lam attacks 'elitist mentality'". Hong Kong Free Press. 2 January 2018.
  41. "No need for formal consultation over law against national anthem abuse, says Hong Kong leader". South China Morning Post. 17 March 2018.
  42. Siu-Por Lam at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  43. Ng, Phoebe (27 March 2017). "Sign of times as couple put off golden years". The Standard. Retrieved 28 March 2017.
  44. "短期课程班--李群分类空间的同调群 Homology of classifying spaces of Lie groups". School of Mathematical Sciences, Capital Normal University (in Chinese). 9 May 2016. Retrieved 3 April 2017.
  45. Lau, Kenneth (4 May 2016). "Mom's the word for a retired Lam". The Standard. Retrieved 28 March 2017.
  46. "夫有英籍 家人同享待遇 擁歐盟居權 林鄭參選資格成疑". Apple Daily. 17 March 2017.
Government offices
Preceded by
Leung Kin-pong
Director of Social Welfare
Succeeded by
Paul Tang
Preceded by
John Tsang
Permanent Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands (Planning and Lands)
Succeeded by
Rita Lau
Preceded by
Leung Kin-pong
Director-General of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, London
Succeeded by
Agnes Allcock
Preceded by
Shelley Lee
Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs
Succeeded by
Carrie Yau
Political offices
Preceded by
Sarah Liao
as Secretary for the Environment, Transport and Works
Secretary for Development
Succeeded by
Mak Chai-kwong
Preceded by
Michael Suen
as Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands
Preceded by
Stephen Lam
Chief Secretary for Administration
Succeeded by
Matthew Cheung
Preceded by
Leung Chun-ying
Chief Executive of Hong Kong
President of Executive Council
Order of precedence
First Hong Kong order of precedence
Chief Executive
Succeeded by
Geoffrey Ma
Chief Justice of the Court of Final Appeal
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