Worrying questions surround the Howard Lam saga

August 18, 2017 18:00
If Howard Lam's story is a lie, why did he produce such a lurid tale when there was a high possibility of the truth being uncovered? Photo: Reuters

Democratic Party member Howard Lam's claims of having been abducted and tortured by mainland officials appear shakier by the day but subsequent police action and his arrest for misleading the police also raise a great number of worrying questions.

First, how come the police have devoted such enormous resources to investigating Lam for a crime that hardly rates as being among the most serious?

Secondly, how come the police, who are usually very tight-lipped about the arrest of suspects, have suddenly sprung leaks in every part of their enquiry?

Indeed, when a staggering total of some 50 officers were mobilized to search a Sai Kung beach for evidence in connection with Mr. Lam’s charge, the media were there in full force to record their every action.

Thirdly, how come the police, who have yet to reveal the findings of their investigation of the five Causeway Bay booksellers two years ago, have moved so rapidly and conclusively in this case?

The same question surrounds police action following the abduction of businessman Xiao Jianhua from the Four Seasons Hotel in Central. This investigation has been shrouded in total secrecy, assuming that is that any serious investigation was ever made.

Mr. Lam has yet to be proven guilty of the charges laid so the possibility remains that his story is true. However, if it is not, why did he produce such a lurid tale when there was a high possibility of the truth being uncovered?

Who benefits from raising allegations of this kind and then having them so publicly demolished?

Given that it is hardly difficult to find real and disturbing evidence of mainland official meddling in Hong Kong, why make up a story, unless the aim of so doing was to discredit genuine accusations of meddling?

Of course, another explanation of all this runs on the lines of the cock-up theory of history – a very useful tool for analyzing why things happen. This theory holds that stupidity, mistakes and unintended actions produce remarkable outcomes. This may well explain what’s happening here.

Meanwhile, the usual suspects are wetting themselves in glee over this affair, rushing to proclaim that it signifies the death of credibility for the democrats. They sagely nod their heads and even pretend to be somewhat saddened that the days of democrat popularity are now over.

Strangely, however, these same people who have reached this conclusion had absolutely nothing to say earlier in the month when a prominent rural leader, government supporter and District Councilor, Tang Lai-tung, was arrested during a widespread anti-Triad operation involving a range of criminal activity.

It seems that when pro-government personalities wander across the line of integrity this does not reflect badly on the pro-government camp as a whole.

Cynics will say, well, that’s politics for you, and indeed it is so. People do stupid things, politicians are often first in line when it comes to stupidity and yes, it is a dirty old business.

However, what is most disturbing here is not the actions of politicians but of the police force who appears to be increasingly used for political ends and whose reputation for integrity is greatly undermined as a result.

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Hong Kong-based journalist, broadcaster and book author