Meanwhile, A Woman Just Clinched Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Office

While the US this week is convulsed in travel frivolity, Hong Kong’s next Chief Executive, the top office in the territory, is going to a woman: Carrie Lam.

Carrie Lam

Photo by Iris Tong, Wikipedia (public domain)

(I will only link to 2 posts on the United legging thing: Matthew doing careful reporting with United Legging Incident: What Really Happened and Tiffany bravely taking a stand with United’s Leggings Fiasco: The False Narrative Needs To Stop. I admire both for their sense and class.)

Back to things that should matter. Ms. Lam is the latest top female leader of a country/territory in East Asia. Taiwan’s current president is Tsai Ing-Wen. South Korean recently impeached their female president, Park Geun-Hye.

Each woman has vastly different background. I am not expert in any of their biographies, only knowing the broad brush. I can’t help but have sympathy for Ms. Park, whatever her crimes real or otherwise, to think what it must have been to see both her parents assassinated, her mother in 1974, her father in 1979.

That these women have risen to the respective highest political offices in these patriarchal societies speaks to their capability.

Ms. Lam is a longtime civil servant who was the anointed choice of the Chinese government. There is no popular vote for Hong Kong Chief Executive. Rather, a 1,200-member Election Committee cast votes. The electors are selected locally by various constituencies, and the Chief Executive is formally ‘appointed’ by the Chinese government, with the legla power to overrule the vote of the Election Committee (corrected from the original, see discussion in the comments.)

Polling in Hong Kong had the majority of the population favoring Ms. Lam’s rival. She enters office on July 1 without a democratic mandate or majority popular support. See detailed coverage at the local South China Morning Post.

Ms. Lam will need to win the hearts and mind of the people she governs in balance with the increasingly assertive Chinese government.

Let’s take this moment, whatever our political views, to applaud Ms. Lam for her achievement.

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  • Jeff

    Ms. Park’s father was also a dictator who arrested, jailed, and murdered opposition leaders.

  • alan

    the electors are not selected by chinese government. please get your fact straight or shut up.

  • InYourDreams

    I think this is a good example of applauding someone based on gender. How is that not wrong. I doubt China would allow this appointment if she was some awesome democratic leader for the people. Time will tell.

  • Hank Reynolds

    who are the electors selected by then?

  • If she is just a Chinese Communist Party flunkie, and I don’t think that’s fair to assume of her long record, there are any number of men who could have been selected for the role. For a women to rise up in that system is no less impressive than some other system. Whether we endorse their partial democracy or not, she, like other Hong Kongese need to navigate their home in tthe system they have. With how poorly the current Chief Executive has been held by the public, the CCP may see her a a better compromise than someone seen as a stooge.

  • ‘The sins of the father…’ I don’t believe Ms. Park had a choice in selecting her parents. That she decided to enter politics as an adult, with her family history, to me as a remote outsider, did seem surprising. I can’t presume to know anything of what that upbringing would be like. Separate, the piece was not intended to prosecute the rule of father Park. When I took a Korean history class at college, 42 of 45 students were Korean ancestry, many of the ‘1.5 generation’ that left Korea under his rule. Discussions in class of that time were justly sensitive and complicated.

  • I was a bit careless in semantics on a subject where every word is parsed. The selection happens through various local constituencies such as industrial groups while per the Basic Law, the Central Government appoints them “”the Chief Executive shall be elected by a broadly representative Election Committee in accordance with this Law and appointed by the Central People’s Government.”

  • A little courtesy wouldn’t hurt, but, yes, you are right, when I saw your comment I even thought I had written “appointed” as per the Basic Law as I intended. My surprise to see I wrote “selected.” I realize how hot people get on semantics with anything to do with Chinese politics. Correcting the post.

  • Shannon

    It makes me uneasy that you “applauds” Carrie Lam just because she is a women! To me, that is borderline sexism/chauvinism. Most local see her as a puppet of CCP and don’t expect her fight for Hong Kong people’s interests. No man can serve two masters. She chose to serve her boss in Beijing. Meanwhile, she ask her family to keep their UK nationality. How convenient is that. So it really doesn’t matter if she is a female leader or not.

  • I am applauding a women for breaking through to the top leadership position in her land. Women’s advancement in modern government from suffragettes seeking the vote to women attaining the highest offices is something to applaud. Or, I could just be silent and not bother to share with readers that more and more countries have proven capable of, ahead of the US, electing a leader regardless of gender. Males should be able to speak as feminists.

    I am not aware of any affirmative action or main thrust of the campaign that it should go to a women. Ms. Lam won on the merits, in the rules as they are, over competitors male and female. A generation of Hong Kong women will grow up with the tangible example that they can aspire to their highest office.

    I don’t know how well she will serve the interests of the Hong Kong people. Hong Kong people have a limited role in their governance. Some choose to activity serve in the government, others not. Those that do should not automatically be portrayed as complicit in the worst aspects of the Central Government’s system. Someone is going to be picked for the Chief Executive role and we know that person must be palatable to the Central Government, and in turn, the Central Government looks for someone that can be a tolerable compromise for Hong Kong people.

    I may not endorse the Hong Kong governance system, but on the range of governance we have in the world, it is does have a fairly high degree of democratic elements and local control. Nothing easy about going from British colony to PRC territory, with that massive and often brutal giant watching over. Chief Executive is a hard job regardless of gender. I hope she and Hong Kong do well and are able to move to direct popular election.

    Looping back to Ms. Park in Korea or Ms. Rousseff in Brazil, both driven from office for corruption in governments rife with it, I do wonder if they would have been persecuted so strongly if male. Now that Ms. Rousseff is out of the way, and this is not a joke, Brazil’s lawmarkers are considering giving themselves amnesty.

  • Alexxx777

    This article simply ignored the real issues involved in the whole election of

  • Alexxx777

    Your article simply ignored all the issues of Lam’s election. If you believe that simply because she has managed to get to the “top” so to speak, she is some kind of inspiration for women or any good person in general you are wrong. She is in this post at the behest of a certain authoritarian (male) leader. She is not credible, she cannot rule with her own beliefs and agenda in any meaningful way, even if she has any, she sold them out to a harmful hyper-capitalist/communist athoritarianism.
    In another comment you suggest your merely celebrating the legacy of the suffragette movement, one of the great achievements of democracy. This whole episode is the antithesis of democracy and the suffragettes, it is harmful to any good person, be it a woman or whatever, this is not good for free humans in general, like the basic rights and freedoms that those women fought for.
    In the UK we had Thatcher… Was she a great achievement for women and feminism? No. Her distain for women’s progession groups, single mothers and so on belie the simple fact that she is a woman, and therefore somehow automatically feminist progression.
    The frustratiing thing about your article is that you simply ignored the real issues of this development, and that you mistakenly believe this is feminism in action. I don’t agree that it is. Yes she is a woman in an extremely high positon. But in what context? You cannot ignore context and focus on her gender, when the context itself may be in some ways the antithesis of democracy and human rights.
    Fighting for women’s rights is ultimately a humanist cause, which this appointment is certainly not a part of.

  • Rita

    On one of the darkest day in Hong Kong history, you were celebrating communist party’s success? That’s crazy. Why didn’t you write a piece like this when a less controversial female icon eg. Taiwan’s Tasi took office last year?