Date
6 December 2019
Hong Kong’s Justice Secretary Teresa Cheng walks as protesters surround her in London on Nov. 14, in this still image from video obtained via social media. Credit: Chloe Leung via Reuters
Hong Kong’s Justice Secretary Teresa Cheng walks as protesters surround her in London on Nov. 14, in this still image from video obtained via social media. Credit: Chloe Leung via Reuters

Teresa’s trip

After almost five months of protests in Hong Kong, Teresa Cheng, current holder of the infamously inappropriately titled office of Secretary for Justice, took a trip to London, ostensibly to promote Hong Kong as an international center for Alternative Dispute Resolution.

Choosing to embark on this venture at a time when Hong Kong is suffering from a catastrophic absence of skills to resolve its current volcanic dispute, it points, in no small measure, to the lady’s lack of judgment.

Yet as, at least nominally, an architect of the imbecilically-inspired Extradition Bill, perhaps her London trip was just more of the same thing.

Together with the catatonic-brained Secretary for Security John Lee, Teresa Cheng is the nearest to what might laughingly be described as Carrie Lam’s closet advisors. I speak not of the water closet though that would probably be more fitting a venue.

Ms. Cheng took office in the wake of a scandal over illegal structures and questionable aspects of a mortgage over one of her Hong Kong properties.

Rather than face the issue square, she insisted that she was far too busy to address these issues as a result of which she is widely regarded as barely fit for purpose in the office she holds.

Since her inauguration, she has been noticeably either silent or absent when legal issues affecting the Special Administrative Region came up for public discussion.

In this regard she follows a path similarly well-trodden by the current senior government officials, ignoring issues screaming to be dealt with and striking off at a pointless tangent. Indeed, if only red herrings could be marketed, the Lam administration would know wealth beyond compare.

It would be generous to deflect criticism of Teresa Cheng on the basis that all the evidence points to the fact that Carrie Lam listens to no-one except her ego. But if the Justice Secretary disagreed in principle with her chief, she would be obliged to tender her resignation. As she has not, we must conclude that she fully supports her.

As the government’s top legal advisor – the true function of her role rather than spearheading the search for justice – when the Lam, Lee and Cheng triumvirate huddled together to chart their reaction to the massive public opposition to the extradition Bill, one would have expected Ms. Cheng to educate her boss on the appropriate measures of response.

One assumes that the police were carrying out Carrie’s orders, but search though I might, I cannot, in any legal textbook or judgment, locate the law that authorized them to knock several sheets of excrement out of the protesters.

Teresa herself cannot be directly blamed for this because her legal expertise is in the field of Arbitration and Mediation and she would be the last person to claim a jot or tittle of knowledge about criminal law.

But in that many-floored edifice off Lower Albert Road that houses the denizens of her department, there are lawyers versed in criminal law to whom she could have turned. There again, she may well suffer from the Lam contagion and turn cloth ears to informed advice.

Equally, the general perception amongst Hong Kong’s legal fraternity is that the Department of Justice is so mentally incestuous that anyone going off message would find themselves in Room 101.

And as for John Lee, as an ex-Deputy Commissioner of Police with more good conduct medals after his name than a Nobel prize winning scientist, it is hard to imagine objective advice falling from his lips.

We are left to conclude that the decision to let loose the Dogs of War, dressed up in their Darth Vader gear and armed to the teeth with bean bags, rubber bullets, tear gas, pepper spray pumps, water cannon, batons and, of course, their service revolvers, must have come from Carrie Lam herself.

One should not expect a civil servant who has climbed her way to the top by burnishing the shoes of her superiors to demonstrate much in the way of lateral thinking. A successful bureaucrat rises to the top by gelatinous acquiescence. Thinking out of the box is a short step to pass over and a reduced pension.

Given the reality of the Hong Kong government, where listening to opposing views, God forbid actual criticism, is actively discouraged, the idea that Carrie Lam would enter into a meaningful discussion about constructive means of dealing with the mounting sea of protest would probably be met with hysterical laughter.

Which brings us back to Teresa Cheng’s trip to London.

As an experienced practitioner in the field of arbitration, she knows that the worst thing for anyone’s case is to be caught out in a lie and just short of that, to exaggerate your claim to the point of incredulity.

As at this moment, there is no evidence that anyone actually physically assaulted her. She was surrounded by angry protesters screaming at her, which is what happens if you hold public office and are held responsible when things go seriously wrong.

How did she come to fall?

Unlike the middle-aged lady who was violently hurled to the ground by one of Carrie’s “Raptors” no-one threw Teresa down.

What is the nature of the serious injury she allegedly sustained to her hand?

When describing something as “barbaric”, Carrie Lam should really be focusing on what is happening here in Hong Kong, where her gross negligence has fueled the furor, encouraging indiscriminate and wholly unjustifiable violence to mount on both sides.

Whether Teresa Cheng, tripped, was pushed or fell of her own accord like a dubious footballer in the penalty zone, she should not have been in London marketing Hong Kong’s alternative dispute resolution facilities but back here devising a means of mediating the city out of the crisis that she and her dysfunctional leader created.

She took a trip, tripped and has probably been tripped up by her own improvidence.

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RC

Queen's Counsel