The decision was her “personal wish and aspiration” and driven solely by “family considerations,” Lam said at a press conference the day after the nomination period for the post began.
She added that she informed Beijing of her decision in March last year during China’s annual parliamentary session. Her term ends on June 30.
“It also means I’m finishing my 42 years of public service,” she said, adding that she hasn’t made up her mind on future plans just yet.
There has been speculation as to whether Lam, who has the lowest public approval rating since Britain returned Hong Kong to China in 1997, would run again in the leadership race on May 8.
These protests soon represented greater public fears of growing Chinese influence and control over the semi-autonomous city.
And although Lam eventually withdrew the bill months after the protests, by then it was too late to stem public anger fueled by allegations of excessive police violence and calls for more democracy.
The emergence of Covid-19 in early 2020, followed by the introduction of a national security law later that year, ended the protest movement.
The law enacted by Beijing defines Lam’s tenure and changes the city’s social and political landscape. Under the law, democracy activists and politicians have been arrested and many of Hong Kong’s largest unions, advocacy groups and media have been disbanded.
And while Hong Kong was initially sheltered from the worst of the pandemic thanks to tight border controls and restrictions on daily life, new, rapidly spreading variants have plunged the city – and Lam’s government – into yet another crisis.
The city’s per capita death rate has been the highest in Asia and Oceania every day since February 28, partly due to low vaccination rates among the elderly.
Though the peak appears to be over and new cases are now declining by the day, the wave has reignited anger at Lam and the government, who face accusations of ill-preparedness during a two-year public health crisis .
With the Chief Executive position now up for grabs, local media have highlighted former police officer and Chief Secretary John Lee and Treasury Secretary Paul Chan as potential candidates.
The Chief Executive is elected by the Beijing-dominated Electoral Commission.
Last year, Beijing introduced a sweeping electoral reform that gave local authorities more powers to screen candidates and ensured that only “patriots” could run as candidates. A new pledge of allegiance for all Hong Kong elected officials – from local councilors to lawmakers – was introduced in June, making it harder for pro-democracy candidates to enter civilian office.
Several Western countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, have expressed concern over drastic changes in Hong Kong’s electoral system, with the US State Department saying in a recent report that China has played an “unprecedented role in steering the outcome.” of the Hong Kong electoral system played elections.”
The Hong Kong government has hit back at both countries, insisting on Friday that citizens’ rights and freedoms are “well protected”.