29 February 2020
Hong Kong's leader Carrie Lam celebrated her 62nd birthday in a low-key manner, and understandably so. File photo: Reuters
Hong Kong's leader Carrie Lam celebrated her 62nd birthday in a low-key manner, and understandably so. File photo: Reuters

An unhappy birthday for Carrie

Monday marked the birthday of Chief Executive Carrie Lam. But there has been no special update on her Facebook page. Nor have we come across reports of Lam doing the rounds in the community and indulging in PR activities such as hugging disabled kids, visiting the elderly, etc. It all seems very quiet. 

For sure, Lam, who has just turned 62, has little to celebrate. Among her major headaches now is the extradition law, as the proposed changes to the law are being opposed by many in the society.

For six weeks now, Lam has failed to get a bills committee at the Legco from going ahead with a discussion on the proposed law revision. After returning to work on Tuesday and presiding over an the Executive Council meeting, the matter was clearly foremost on her mind.

Before blowing her birthday candle and making wishes, Lam would have found it hard not to remember the criticism and insults she had received during a Legco meeting last week.

Well, she was called a “b***h” by the Democratic Party’s Wu Chi-wai, who is normally among the more soft-spoken opposition leaders. Used to labels such as “hardworking” and “responsible” during her long civil service career, the abuse she received last Thursday must have surely pained Lam.

During a question-answer session in the Legco chamber, Wu stood up and yelled at Lam after she dismissed as “nonsense” claims by opposition groups on some aspects related to the fugitives law. 

“You have done more damage to Hong Kong than Tung Chee-hwa, and Leung Chun-ying,” Wu said, referring to the city’s previous unpopular top leaders. “How many people will have to take to the streets before you give up and withdraw this law on renditions?”

Well, if only she had a choice, Lam would not have touched the controversial law which had been questioned even by some pro-establishment political and business figures.

The proposed law would give too much power to Beijing to take people it wants from Hong Kong for prosecution without grandfathering any preexisting cases, making Hong Kong a dangerous place to stay under the “One Country, Two Systems”.

While acknowledging that Beijing might have already made up its mind to get the law changed in Hong Kong, former Legco chair Jasper Tsang suggested that the territory’s government could ask for more exemptions to protect the interests of Hong Kong people.

Aside from the extradition law, Lam also has cause for worry on the economic front. With the latest US-China trade talks ending without a deal, the two sides have upped the ante against each other and announced an escalation of tariffs.

The only hope now is that better sense will prevail and that the world’s top two economies will eventually manage to stitch together an agreement to get trade flows back on track.

But in case that doesn’t happen, Hong Kong will be back to where it was last year when the Sino-US trade row dampened hopes of local economic recovery, and the city became a venue for short-sellers.

If Lam is looking to watch a movie right now to take things off her mind, we would assume a title she would definitely avoid is “Avengers: Endgame”. The words are just too painful!

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EJ Insight writer