Chief Secretary for Administration Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-Ngor said at a Catholic charity event in Victoria Park on Sunday that those who insisted on doing the work of righteousness often face criticism, but that she believed there is already a place for her reserved in heaven.

At the opening ceremony of the Caritas Bazaar, Lam said that she attended mass prior to the event and that the eight Beatitudes were discussed. “Some said that the eighth blessing applies very well to me – it says, ‘blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven’ – there is already a place reserved for me in heaven.”

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Carrie Lam. File Photo: Stand News.

“Working in the SAR government, when you insist on doing the work of righteousness, you’ll often be given a hard time,” she said as the crowd applauded. Lam said that helping the poor and needy was a focus of the government’s policies, and that it was continuously improving welfare services, such as establishing the Commission on Poverty to improve social mobility.

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Lam at the Commission on Poverty Summit. File Photo: Stand News.

His Eminence Cardinal John Tong-hon, Cardinal-Bishop of Hong Kong, said that Lam’s perseverance and commitment made her a great role model for the Caritas community, and that he appreciated her talent and her daring spirit. Whether or not a person achieves success in their endeavors, he said, is often out of one’s control, and the most important thing is to humbly accept the lord’s challenges.

The Reverend Thomas Law Kwok-Fai refused to comment on whether Lam’s remarks were appropriate, but told AM730: “No one would say that about themselves… I won’t dare to myself.”

Dr. Anthony Lam of the Holy Spirit Study Centre said that it was alright for Lam to cite the Bible so long as she adequately explained it, but said that as a public official, Lam should be prepared to be questioned over her work. Senior lecturer at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Ivan Choy Chi-keung, said that Lam sounded arrogant and that her speech might work against her. He also said that as a Catholic, Lam should appear more humble.

Lam did not respond to questions about what “work of righteousness” she had been referring to or who was persecuting her. There was also no mention of the religious section of the speech in the official transcript released by the government. Lam’s press secretary explained that this was because it was impromptu.

Lam came under fire earlier this month for comments made during a Legislative Council meeting in which she asked officials not to drink lead-tainted water so as to “safeguard their dignity”. In the same meeting, a motion calling for the investigation of the lead water scandal under the Legislative Council (Powers and Privileges) Ordinance was voted down by pro-Beijing lawmakers.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.