Carrie Lam, the Chief Secretary for Administration of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government, has resigned on Thursday (12 January), local Cable Television reported citing unnamed sources.

The report added that the number 2 official of Hong Kong has already given her resignation letter, which is seen as a sign of her contesting a March election for the post of the Asian financial hub's next chief executive. However, her office declined to comment on the development, Reuters reported.

The 59-year-old Lam, widely known as the "fighter", has worked as the Chief Secretary of the autonomous territory since 2012 while supervising the civil service. Popular for her no-nonsense attitude as a tough and effective leader, Lam is believed to be one of the frontrunners in the contest to lead the financial hub, which is governed under a "one country, two systems" principle since 1997, granting it a high degree of autonomy under Chinese rule.

Former Financial Secretary of Hong Kong, John Tsang, who stepped down in mid-December is also reportedly one of the candidates in March election.

The development came after former Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying in a surprise announcement said in December that he would not run again for office after his term ends next year.

He said that his unexpected decision to step down came out for family reasons, his "responsibility as a father and a husband".

All candidates planning to contest will have to get the approval of 1,200-strong Election Committee who are largely made up of pro-Beijing establishment figures. The committee will then vote among them to elect a new leader.

Carrie Lam
Hong Kong's Chief Secretary for Administration, Carrie Lam, resigns - File photo REUTERS/Neil Hall/File Photo