Hong Kong Chief Secretary Carrie Lam arrives to speaks to journalists on her resignation in Hong Kong, China January 12, 2017. REUTERS/Bobby Yip
Hong Kong Chief Secretary Carrie Lam arrives to speaks to journalists on her resignation in Hong Kong, China January 12, 2017. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

Hong Kong’s number two official Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor confirmed her resignation on Thursday afternoon as she clearly expressed her desire to run in the chief executive election this March. 

“There is only one reason for me to resign at this juncture,” Lam, 59, told the press pack on Thursday afternoon at Hong Kong’s government headquarters at Admiralty, without taking any questions. “If my resignation is approved by the Central People’s Government, I intend to prepare to contest in the upcoming chief executive election,” said Lam quoting her resignation letter.

“It has been an honour and privilege to have served the people of Hong Kong for over 36 years,” Lam said. She also took the chance to thank the current Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and his predecessors for their support of her work.

Lam, who is a Roman Catholic, told people at a lunch earlier on Thursday that God had asked her to resign and run for chief executive.

Lam’s colleague Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah has also expressed the same wish to bid for the top job. Tsang submitted his resignation exactly a month ago, on December 12, but approval from Beijing is still pending.  

Retired High Court justice Woo Kwok-hing, legislative councillor and former secretary for security Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, chairwoman of the New People’s Party, and a former pro-Beijing party member Wu Sai-chuen have also announced their bids late last year. 

Read: Wanted – Outstanding candidate to run Asian financial hub 

A 1,200-strong election committee, dominated by pro-Beijing loyalists and business elites, will vote to pick the next chief executive on March 26. A candidate needs to secure a simple majority support.

Lam previously said at several occasions that she would not run for the chief executive after her current term ends in June this year. She would rather spend more time with her husband and two sons.

She made a U-turn on this decision the day after the incumbent chief executive Leung said he would not seek re-election on December 9, citing family reasons. She told the press that she “has to re-consider” options as “situation has a drastic change.” 

Lam started serving the Hong Kong government as a civil servant in the Administrative Service in 1980, under the British colonial rule.

She became a politically-appointed principal official in 2007 as the Secretary for Development. Her hardliner approach with opposition earned her the nickname as a “fighter.”

In 2012, as the current administration tried to introduce a national education curriculum to primary and secondary schools, Lam was described as the “baby sitter” for her colleagues. The curriculum was later retracted. 

Lam also headed the latest electoral reform consultation for the chief executive and the city’s legislature between 2013 and 2015, which led to the 79-day Occupy Movement that paralysed traffic in the central business district. The reform was vetoed in the Legislative Council in June 2015.