An open letter to the Chief Executive

November 14, 2019 11:29
A placard with an image of Carrie Lam is seen on a barricaded street in Central on Wednesday. Hong Kong’s leader has come under severe criticism over her handling of the months-long anti-government protests. Photo: Reuters

Dear Mrs Carrie Lam,

I am a graduate student at Cambridge. I was born in Hong Kong, and Hong Kong is the place I call home – it is the city where my family and friends are living in, and where I received primary, secondary and tertiary education. Hong Kong was a place that showered me with love, instilled me with knowledge of the world, and allowed me to be who I want to be. Over the past few months, it has been heart-wrenching to witness how such a loving city has been turned into a battlefield that is rife with hostility and violence.

Deeply worried and grieved, I write to you, sincerely hoping that you are willing and ready to shoulder your responsibility to help love and peace find their way back to our home.

Throughout these five months, all of us experienced disappointments, frustration, and anger. Conflicts not only took place between the government and the people, they were also commonplace within families and among generations. At this extremely difficult time, we, as citizens, are feeling disoriented and powerless, wondering about basic issues such as when we will be able to go to school or to work without fear. Are we ever going to see the rainbow again, and not just yellow and blue? Is Hong Kong going to be safe and peaceful as it used to be?

Those who exercise violence irrationally are condemnable – but what other than condemning? Pointing fingers at one another does not narrow gaps, silencing the crowd does not bring harmony, and avoiding communication does not solve problems. Have we ever tried to understand? Have we ever asked why people went out in the streets at the expense of their own lives? Why were members of the police force losing patience towards the people? What is nibbling the trust between the people and the government?

Antagonism between the government and the people planted its seed five years ago. Minimal attempt has been made to address people’s needs and concerns at the time. Unpacified emotions had been out of sight for a while, but during the past summer, the trigger has been pulled. Now comes the time, Mrs Lam, for us to face the problem head-on.

How public resentment can be soothed, whether or not an independent commission of inquiry should be established, how the relationship between the police and the people can be mended – these are merely a few among the numerous pressing issues that the people look to the government to tackle with wisdom and efficacy. However, there is little room for administrative policies to be implemented successfully when there is deep distrust between the people and the government. That is why, Mrs Lam, I urge you to rebuild the credibility of both yourself and the government.

I understand the difficult position you are in, but I hope you make the effort to see, hear, feel and understand what the people are asking for. Finding out the key to break the chain of hatred requires understanding. Instead of thinking within our own boxes and speaking in our own voice, we have to empathize with others, talk to them, and speak on behalf of us altogether.

A variety of views has been expressed by different stakeholders in the society, I hope you address and respond to each of them through real actions. In particular, I hope you realize the need of an impartial evaluation of the use of police power. You said that the government would be succumbing to violence if an independent commission inquiry is established. I am afraid you have misconceived the significance of the inquiry.

All those who have exercised violence – who definitely do not only include certain protestors – should undergo a thorough adjudication process. Violence should not have been confronted with greater violence. The establishment of an independent inquiry itself does not mean violence on the part of certain protestors would be condoned; rather, its purpose is to check whether the powers of the police have been exercised in a justifiable manner. As you might have known, rumors about abuse of police power have been spreading within the society. If we want to put an end to these rumors, we need to know what in fact has happened. We need an independent and transparent system to investigate all the events and reveal the truth for us.

"Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak. Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Please allow me to add – finally, courage is what it takes to learn from yesterday and change today.

With hope, I pray for the day love and peace set their foot in Hong Kong again.

Yours sincerely,


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A graduate student currently studying at Cambridge.