Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has made clear that she has no interest in running for the city's top job in 2017.
While senior figures in both the main political camps have been talking about her suitability for the role of chief executive, Lam says she is expecting something else in some three years' time - retirement.
"I don't think I have the ability to run. I have never had any experience of elections and I don't have any political ambition," she told ATV current affairs programme Newsline.
Lam, who is spearheading the government's electoral reform consultation work for the 2017 chief executive election, said she would not be joining the game which she helps set up. "By that time I will be looking forward to a happy retirement," said Lam.
The government No2's most emphatic statement yet on the matter comes after politicians from both the Beijing-loyalist and pan-democratic camps paid her a barrage of compliments.
On January 11, Ng Hon-mun, a former National People's Congress deputy, named Lam in a newspaper article alongside New People's Party lawmaker Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee and pan-democratic legislator Emily Lau Wai-hing as front runners for the 2017 chief executive election. In the article in Chinese -language daily Ming Pao portraying a hypothetical election "with three female candidates", the Beijing loyalist praised Lam's "high popularity and rich political experience".
"She will stand a good chance if she runs for the chief executive [job]," Ng wrote.
Less than a week later, the chief secretary's predecessor Anson Chan Fang On-sang, now convenor of pro-universal suffrage group Hong Kong 2020, called Lam an "appropriate candidate".
Legco president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing added to the praise: "She is capable and with a heart [of serving Hong Kong]. She would win the support of many if she is willing to enter the race."
Lam was evasive when asked about their remarks, saying: "That was too complimentary. My priority is to finish the consultation on political reform."
According to various opinion polls, the chief secretary is more popular than her boss, incumbent chief executive Leung Chun-ying. The latest University of Hong Kong poll - conducted early this month - had Lam's popularity rating at 62 points out of 100, while Leung's was 45.6.
Leung famously claimed in 1996 that he would not run for the top job "for N elections", but N proved to be a finite number. In September 2011 Leung announced his interest in the job.