Dictators are immune to criticism: Carrie Lam says she is immune

October 22, 2020 06:00
Photo: Reuters

Everyone in the world is awaiting a vaccine for immunity from the coronavirus. But our chief executive is already immune to something else. She told pro-Beijing newspapers she is immune to criticism.

There is no vaccine for criticism immunity. How did Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor become immune? I pray she won’t share her secret. It would make us all unfeeling zombies. Normal people cannot be immune from criticism. They have hearts and minds. Warm blood runs through them. Humans have a built-in DNA that evokes emotions, including reacting to criticism.

But not everyone is normal. Dictators are not. Neither are authoritarian rulers. Leaders who commit genocide are not normal. President Xi Jinping is most likely immune to criticism because he is a strongman ruler of a communist state where no one dares to criticize him.

US President Donald Trump governs a democracy where people are free to criticize him. He hates criticism. He lashes out at opponents and fires officials who badmouth him. Reacting to criticism makes him human even though critics say he has a mental problem.

If Lam says she is immune to criticism, does it mean she has an unfeeling heart or is not a normal human being? Does cold blood run through her veins? It has been two months since China’s coastguard captured 12 young Hongkongers trying to flee to Taiwan. Their parents are worried sick.

Lam is a mother. Any mother with a heart would feel compassion for parents whose children have been held incommunicado by an authoritarian regime without access to lawyers of their choice. The parents of the 12 have criticized the government for ignoring their pleas to get the 12 back to Hong Kong to face trial for alleged crimes.

Instead of showing compassion, Lam essentially said the 12 are criminals who deserve their fate and should face mainland justice first. That shows she is correct when she says she is immune to criticism. But it also shows she is immune to the pain the parents of the 12 are suffering, and the fact that she is the most despised leader since reunification.

What I can’t understand is her reason for no longer attending monthly Legislative Council question and answer sessions. She said she doesn’t want to be insulted by the opposition. But why should she care about insults if she is immune to criticism? It defies logic. But our leader is immune to many things, including logic.

She told the pro-Beijing media she had turned down many offers to leave the government during four decades as a civil servant. That is Hong Kong’s tragedy. If she had left, we may possibly now have a leader who is not immune to criticism.

By her own admission, she doesn’t waste time listening to what critics say because it makes her unhappy. Her monthly salary is over HK$400,000. Most Hongkongers would welcome criticism 24 hours a day for $400,000 a month.

Taxpayers don’t pay her this huge amount to make her shut her ears to the voices of the people, including her critics. They pay her to listen, even to her critics, to have a better understanding of society.

The pro-government DAB party said last month Lam is out of touch with society. Legislator Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee told me the same thing in a television interview. Property tycoon Gordon Wu Ying-sheung is on the record as saying Lam doesn’t listen to others. Former Legco president Tsang Yok-sing said something similar.

We are stuck with an undemocratically elected leader who believes she is always right and everyone else is always wrong. She painted herself as a saint in her interview with the pro-Beijing media. This is what she said: “Everything I do is for the good of Hong Kong, or even for the good of the country in recent years. Whether people agree is not a big deal so long as I give my best”.

For the good of the country only in recent years? Shouldn’t a self-proclaimed patriot whose husband and sons have British passports do good for the country all the time, not only when it benefits them politically?

Sorry, Mrs Puppet Leader. Hope you don’t mind me calling you that because you are immune to criticism. Nothing you have done is good for Hong Kong. Have you forgotten the extradition bill? Giving your best is not a big deal. We all try to give our best. A big deal is whether people agree or not with you.

Every poll shows they detest you. Again, I hope you don’t mind me saying that. It’s the truth. You have insisted the Beijing-imposed national security law has not taken away our freedoms. That means speaking the truth is still free speech. And you have said you are immune to criticism. So please don’t find an excuse to arrest me under the national security law for saying most Hongkongers detest you.

Let me end this column by pointing out what Lam is not immune to. She is not immune to her own ego. No room is big enough to fill her ego. Only undemocratically-elected egotistical leaders say they are working for the people without listening to the people because listening makes them unhappy.

If hungry people have no bread, let them eat cake. Marie Antoinette, the last queen of France, apparently said that during the French revolution. She was beheaded for going against ordinary French people.

I do not wish that on Lam. She is egotistical, doesn’t understand ordinary Hong Kong people, has no compassion, and is immune to criticism. But she is still a human being even though some of you believe otherwise.

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A Hong Kong-born American citizen who has worked for many years as a journalist in Hong Kong, the USA and London.