‘Hong Kong leader won’t seek second term’

Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam, announced she would not seek a second term in office after a controversial tenure that had seen many of the territory’s civil freedoms eroded.

As chief executive, Ms Lam oversaw a turbulent period where massive pro-democracy protests led to greater Chinese control in Hong Kong.

Ms Lam, 64, was Beijing’s handpicked choice who assumed office in 2017.

On Monday, she told reporters that Beijing had been receptive to her decision.

She also revealed she had informed China about her desire to not seek a second term a year ago, despite refusing in recent times to answer questions about her political future.

Ms Lam said she was stepping back and prioritising her family.

“There’s only one consideration and that is family… They think it’s time for me to go home,” she said.

Hong Kong’s Chief Secretary, John Lee, is said to be the favoured replacement for Ms Lam.

The city’s leaders were selected by a committee of 1,500 members who nearly are all pro-Beijing loyalists. They’re due to select the new chief executive next month.

Local media outlets reported that Mr Lee, the second-highest ranking official, was due to present his candidacy for the leadership position this week.

Mr Lee, a former police officer, was also a leading security official during the 2019 protests. He was elevated to the leadership rank last year.

A bureaucrat with decades of experience, Ms Lam was Hong Kong’s first female leader, who soon became one of the city’s most divisive leaders.

The mass protests of 2019 led to China imposing series of policies to “restore security” and tighten control over Hong Kong and its residents, including a major national security law that criminalised most forms of political protest and dissent, and reduced the city’s autonomy.

Ms Lam had promoted the widely-criticised law, saying it was not all “doom and gloom”, adding that compared to other national security laws, it was “rather mild”.

“Its scope is not as broad as that in other countries and even China,” she had said.

However, since its passage in 2020, Hong Kong has seen a succession of democracy activists, former lawmakers and media figures arrested and jailed. Many others have fled abroad. -BBC

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