Date
14 October 2019
Chief Executive Carrie Lam's intractable opposition to an independent commission of inquiry into recent violent incidents suggests she has something to hide. Photo: Reuters
Chief Executive Carrie Lam's intractable opposition to an independent commission of inquiry into recent violent incidents suggests she has something to hide. Photo: Reuters

Svengali Lam

Is Hong Kong the victim of a dastardly plot?

Would it be wrong to observe that all too many recent incidents bear the hallmarks of evil hands at work?

Lest we lose sight of the core problem, the proposed extradition law was an ill-considered, fundamentally flawed creation by a narrow-minded but arrogant chief executive, a proposal that prompted objection from virtually every constituency in Hong Kong.

Only the mentally challenged or downright dishonest endeavored to justify it.

Very properly, the bulk of the population rejected it and had Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor not been so self-deluding, she would have acknowledged the opposition and shown good judgment by withdrawing it.

But history is redolent of delusional leaders, usually surrounded by a coterie of sycophantic shoeshiners, whose brains are Kevlar-resistant to reasoned contradiction.

A million peaceful protesters drew disproportionately ugly repression by a poorly trained and incompetently led police force.

The extremists on both sides then doubled down.

Then two million took to the streets.

The chief executive’s brain remained as impenetrable as an armadillo.

Impervious to anything but her own opinion, she appears incapable of recognizing that by withdrawing the bill and setting up an independent commission of inquiry she can draw the sting of the opposition and restore a semblance of confidence in her low-grade administration.

Or, is there a more devious plan afoot?

The early signs of a police force that had moved beyond the pale of civil behavior were evidenced by the groups of heavily armored officers savagely beating people, indiscriminately.

The revelation that many of these officers on duty at the protest march wore no identification raised more than a dubious eyebrow.

The significance of this was driven home by the recent Court of Appeal acquittal of two of the officers accused of beating, kicking and stamping on activist Ken Tsang Kin-chiu for a sustained period while he was lying defenseless on the ground with his hands tied behind his back, causing obvious and serious injuries to his face, neck, shoulder, chest and back. Ken Tsang had not been able to identify them.

As the Court of Appeal observed, that incident during the Occupy protest shook people’s belief in the Hong Kong Police Force and the rule of law itself.

Some of the individuals among the police involved in the most recent attacks on protesters wore civilian clothes, the only sign that they were officers being the word “police” on their helmets.

Many people were disinclined to believe that Hong Kong police officers would descend into the violent thuggery that was revealed on video recordings, leading to speculation that they must have been mainland Public Security personnel posing as Hong Kong policemen.

Then came the Yuen Long saga.

The two armed officers first on the scene withdrew to a place of safety, leaving the thugs, suspected of being Triads, to beat up innocent MTR passengers.

Incredibly, it took almost 40 minutes for the police to respond to the 999 calls and they shuttered the entrance to the Yuen Long police station, barring refuge to those fleeing the thugs.

A video shows the thugs, armed with bamboo rods, laughing as they walk down the off-side of a coach out of which armed police are emerging on the nearside, blithely ignoring the thugs.

The village people in this part of Hong Kong appear to be a law unto themselves yet Junius Ho Kwan-yiu, a solicitor and Legislative Council member was seen shaking hands with and greeting the alleged Triad thugs who put several people in hospital.

The message is depressingly clear: either the police are frightened of the Triads or working together with them. Whichever it was, they most certainly were not protecting innocent members of the public against violent thuggery.

I would hazard a guess that most junior police officers are not acting independently on their own initiative but under the command of their senior officers.

The police decision to ban protests converted legitimate expressions of public opinion into unlawful assemblies. This is Machiavellian.

Unless and until there is an independent inquiry, the worst criticism that can be leveled at the police high command is that of incompetence and negligence.

But it is improbable that the current police commissioner has the intelligence, let alone skill, to direct his officers to behave in so outrageous a manner.

The independent inquiry that is being called for by so many reasonable and sensible people would look into all aspects of the events, carrying out an impartial post-mortem, apportioning responsibility wherever the evidence led it. It would embrace all the actors, the public and the politicians as well as the police.

Carrie Lam’s intractable opposition to an independent inquiry suggests she has something to hide.

Is there method in her apparent madness in refusing an independent inquiry?

In concert with the leading members of her dysfunctional cabinet and the intellectual pigmy Police Commissioner Stephen Lo Wai-chung, has she succumbed to a Beijing directive to demonstrate such ineptitude that the central government feels it necessary to walk in and dispense with the “two systems”?

When Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said he was “absolutely willing to apologize for our handing of the incident”, the police commissioner protested that he was unaware that he would make such a statement. Is there an economy of the truth here or does the right hand not talk to the left hand?

Then anonymous senior police officers posted online that if the chief secretary did not retract his statement he would be “the sworn enemy of the police”.

What is going on? And more to the point, who is pulling the strings?

The chorus of Hong Kong voices sings a symphonic call for a public inquiry; dissonance comes from those with a vested interest.

The government’s reliance on the Independent Police Complaints Council is manifestly inferior in the public’s eye when compared to a commission chaired by a High Court judge.

Carrie Lam, like Shakespear’s King Lear, has glass eyes “and like a scurvy politician” seems to see things she does not.

And despite her vaunted Christianity, it seems she has not taken to heart the Bible’s invocation, “She who hath ears to hear, let her hear.”

Tempting though it is to ascribe her obduracy to a complete disconnection with reality, far more likely is it that a dark hand is behind what is going on.

Thus began the siege mentality that personifies Carrie Lam’s leadership style.

We seem to be living in a world peopled by leaders who ought really to be confined to the kindergarten.

The infamous four of Carrie Lam, Stephen Lo, Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu, and Secretary for Justice Theresa Cheng Yeuk-wah belong in a children’s horror storybook or a dubious firm of solicitors Lam, Lo, Lee and Cheng.

The story rapidly degenerates into a Kafkaesque nightmare as the famous four encounter rational opposition which they are incapable of comprehending.

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CG

Queen's Counsel