Date
14 December 2017
Carrie Lam (right) and her officials turn a deaf ear to opposing views from the public because they regard them as 'toxic'. Kwan Wing-yee (left) lashed out at the government officials in Legco. Photo: HKEJ, Youtube
Carrie Lam (right) and her officials turn a deaf ear to opposing views from the public because they regard them as 'toxic'. Kwan Wing-yee (left) lashed out at the government officials in Legco. Photo: HKEJ, Youtube

Lam’s response speaks volumes about what’s wrong with our city

In the past week, our fellow citizens have on different occasions expressed their grievances and anger against our dysfunctional government in their own innovative, and often outrageous, ways.

At a public hearing held Monday last week by the Legislative Council’s Committee on Social Welfare about universal retirement benefits, one of the attendees, Kwan Wing-yee, lashed out at the government officials who were present at the meeting.

Kwan lambasted them for their incompetence, lack of empathy for the poor, bureaucratic mindset, preferential treatment for big businesses and penny-pinching on livelihood issues.

In her concluding remarks, she even denounced the administration as “worse than a thief”.

A video of her speech at the meeting went viral on the internet.

Netizens dubbed her “Explosive Sister” for her sharp comments, cutting remarks and rapid-fire delivery, which blew everyone away and made her an online sensation overnight. 

Then on Friday, Facebook officially launched a new set of emojis.

Within a few hours, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s Facebook page received from Hongkongers hundreds of thousands of a new emoji representing anger and disapproval.

The “emoji bombing” made Leung probably the most disliked leader around the world that day and even received coverage from western media.

And things merely got worse.

On Saturday, Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and Secretary for Labor and Welfare Matthew Cheung Kin-chung attended a public consultation session on universal retirement benefits in Yau Ma Tei, only to find themselves surrounded by angry protesters dismayed at the government’s procrastination in implementing a universal retirement scheme.

Some protesters shouted “inhuman” and “shame on you” at Lam.

Her ego dented and her pride ruffled, the obviously unimpressed Lam told reporters at the end of the event that she didn’t feel upset at all, because she had already grown immune to such “toxic attacks”.

Then it suddenly clicked to me: the reason why the Leung administration is performing so poorly and its officials are so arrogant is because even the highest-ranking officials regard opposing views and feedback from the public as something “toxic”.

No wonder all Lam’s subordinates and department heads always turn a deaf ear to the public’s demands, no matter how rightful, because they regard any opposite opinions from the public as “toxic”, something from which they need to stay as far away as possible.

How can a city be properly governed if our top officials are so drunk with their own wine and hostile to opinions that are not to their taste?

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Feb. 29.

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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FL

Columnist of Hong Kong Economic Journal

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