Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, formerly the Chief Secretary for Administration of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region was given the nickname ‘tough fighter’. In the recent election, Lam ended up being elected the first female Chief Executive of Hong Kong, an outstanding achievement that elevated women empowerment. She officially began her 5-year term earlier this year, and was sworn in by Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China. Being the first woman to lead the city is a huge task, but Lam is prepared to take on the challenge.
Growing up was always an adventure for Carrie Lam. She was the fourth of five children, born into a low-income family of Zhoushan ancestry in Hong Kong. They grew up in a cramped apartment shared by several families. A devout Catholic, she got her first taste of leadership in St. Francis’ Canossian College, an all-girl Catholic school where she was chosen as the head prefect. She became more involved in student activism when she attended University of Hong Kong, organizing exchange trips and majoring in social work. She eventually switched majors and graduated with a Bachelor of Social Sciences in the 1980. She is currently married to mathematician Lam Siu-por, whom she met at Cambridge University.
Lam promises a brand new style of governance, attempting to solve the city’s housing problems and engaging youth in policy making. She also vowed to repay the support and trust of the public and central government with diligence, attentiveness and results. She revealed her manifesto titled ‘Connecting for Consensus and A Better Future’ during nomination period, which placed focus on reforming the government structure and boosting economy. It included expanding the Central Policy Unit, establishing a Culture Bureau and new Tourism Bureau. She made it clear that her election campaign helped her to understand the business sector and young people’s worries better and promised to rebuild social harmony and trust.
The selection of the Chief Executive of Hong Kong is made by the 1,194-member Election Committee, casting their votes in a secret balloting system. The elected winner will need at least 601 votes to win, and if there is no winner, the leading two candidates will battle it out in a second round of voting which will take place later that day.
The 59-year old ended up winning by a huge majority with 777 votes in comparison to 365 for former finance chief John Tsang and 21 for retired judge Woo Kwok-hing. In her victory speech, she vowed to heal social divide among citizens and promote unity in society to move forward. Lam is also the first leader ever to graduate from the University of Hong Kong.
“Hong Kong is a diverse society, with different views coexisting. Values such as inclusiveness, freedom of the press and of speech, respect for human rights, and systems which have taken generations to establish, such as the independent judiciary, rule of law, and clean government, are matters that we Hong Kong people find precious and are proud of. As your Chief Executive, I shall do my utmost to uphold “one country, two systems” and to guard our core values,” she mentioned in her inspiring 12-minute victory speech.
The mother of two was a former teacher at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and Capital Normal University in Beijing. She also previously lived in England, but renounced her British citizenship to take up the principal official post in the Hong Kong SAR government in 2007.
Lam is one of seven prominent figures across political, business and community service sectors to be awarded with the Grand Bauhinia Medal, the highest award under the Hong Kong honors and awards system which recognizes selected people for their the significant contributions to Hong Kong. She was also given the Gold Bauhinia Star, a recognition awarded to those who have given distinguished service to the community. Not long ago, she was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Social Sciences by Lingnan University.