21 October 2016
Sitting in the backseat of his vehicle, Eddie Ng (inset) had been caught on camera playing with his smartphone for a long time during a student protest. Photo: TVB
Sitting in the backseat of his vehicle, Eddie Ng (inset) had been caught on camera playing with his smartphone for a long time during a student protest. Photo: TVB

Who needs an excuse to criticize Secretary Ng?

A few incidents last week have fueled worries as to whether the government has become so obsessed with papering over the cracks in the society that it has totally lost the ability to reflect on itself.

At a Legco general meeting on March 16, Security Secretary TK Lai vowed that the police would always exercise maximum restraint and enforce the law properly, and that it would always refrain from getting involved in a confrontational situation with our citizens.

However, just days after his remarks were published in the newspapers, the police deployed dozens of full-geared officers to a dumpsite off Kingswood Villas in Tin Shui Wai and arrested several members of the Land Justice League on a charge of theft on Sunday.

The members of the pressure group were actually there in an attempt to pack some of the dumped waste in nylon bags and carry it to government headquarters to protest against government indifference and inaction against the so-called “waste dump hill” which might collapse at any time and lead to a deadly landslide.

When Labour Party legislator Lee Cheuk-yan went to the scene to find out what really happened, he was also arrested for disorderly conduct in a public place, after a brief brawl.

The disproportionate show of force and arrests made by the police on Sunday shows that the government is resorting to dastardly actions when it comes to crucial civic issues.

The administration didn’t say a word when some powerful rural thugs were dumping construction waste illegally at will, but didn’t hesitate to intimidate ordinary citizens who had no choice but to take the law into their own hands because authorities had been turning a blind eye to illegal activities that might threaten people’s lives.

It has become crystal clear that our society is increasingly ridden with problems, chaos, injustice and grievances under Leung Chun-ying. The reason for that is simple: Leung has continued to appoint his supporters and allies to key positions despite the fact that many of those people are often selfish, self-opinionated and incompetent opportunists.

As a result, the government has gone completely out of touch with real public sentiment. Whenever the “Leung-fans” come under fire for negligence or wrong decisions, they often blame the public for picking on them instead of reflecting on their own mistakes.

The most recent example of this kind of “not-my-fault” mentality has come from Education Bureau chief Eddie Ng Hak-kim, who whined about the bad press he received after he had got stranded in the middle of a protest a day before.

Sitting in the backseat of his vehicle, Ng had been caught on camera playing with his smartphone for a long time while refusing to get out of the car to accept a petition letter from the protesters.

The entire embarrassment could easily have been avoided if Ng had condescended to open his window a little bit and take the letter, which could hardly have posed any threat to his personal safety, as contrary to what he claimed.

I think Secretary Ng was being disingenuous when he said the media and the public were using that incident as an excuse to take cheap shots at him.

Given his poor performance as Secretary for Education over the past four years, there is simply no shortage of reasons for people to be unhappy with him. So who needs an excuse?

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on March 21.

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Columnist of Hong Kong Economic Journal

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