Carrie Lam says she dislikes being known as the 'figures lady' - someone with a good head for numbers on a balance sheet but with little compassion for the needy. A former deputy secretary for the treasury, Mrs Lam has often impressed audiences with her good memory for figures and sharp mathematical skills. She can recall statistics about the number of people on welfare, the number of jobless, and the cost of social security to taxpayers. When she became director of social welfare three years ago, her image as the government's book-keeper distanced her from grass-roots families - people who not only needed financial assistance but also a few caring words. Mrs Lam is not pleased to hear the label. She held a farewell reception with the media yesterday and said that, like many people, she was born with sensitivity and compassion. 'Someone told me that after my three-year term, I will no longer be a figures person. In fact, I am very annoyed by that comment. 'Sensitivity is something you are born with. I never found myself an indifferent person. 'Figures have helped me to convince others when implementing some policies. We could not solve problems with emotions alone. 'Saying that I will learn to be compassionate only after my three-year term ends is totally unacceptable.' Mrs Lam last year launched an online column revealing her feelings about her job and the people she has met. She has compiled the articles in a book and 1,500 copies will be given to friends and colleagues.