As Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam declares her unswerving support to implement the draconian China national security law unilaterally imposed on Hong Kong, one has to wonder what goes on in her mind as she looks at herself in the mirror.

What happened to this person who was born, grew up and was educated in and benefited from the open civil society of Hong Kong, attended elite local secondary school and university majoring in sociology, and is a serious practising Catholic inculcated with all the Christian values and beliefs? She was trained at taxpayers’ expense in Cambridge where she met her husband who has a British passport, and she had her two sons educated at Cambridge – also holding British passports. How can she be co-opted to an extent that is totally contrary to her personal experience and the values espoused in the environment and company around her?

Chief Executive Carrie Lam and top officials. Photo: GovHK.

How ironic in that she willingly participates in a regime to enforce the stripping of the values and principles that Hongkongers value. Values that are also enshrined in the spirit of Great Britain, that her husband and two sons must subscribe to as citizens of that country.

Can she reconcile such jarring contradictions and come to terms with it in her waning years among her children and grandchildren?

Photo: May James/HKFP.

Instead, she has opted to be a figurehead chief executive in name, and a Beijing puppet working only among supporters – all while despised by the vast majority of the people of Hong Kong. During the 2019 protest movement instigated by her incompetence and arrogance to introduce the extradition law in spite of the multi million-people peaceful protesters and front-line radicals, the city became polarised and divisive pitching parents against their children, brothers sisters against brothers sisters, husbands against wives, friends against friends and citizens against police.

The economy went downhill with tourists staying away, and thousands of shops and restaurants closed and hotel rooms were left vacant. Hong Kong will never be the same because of what she did single-handedly.

A young Carrie Lam.

Why? A HK$410,000 monthly salary and lodging at Government House? Chauffeur-driven limousine? The façade of being the chief executive of a global financial centre? Dinner at the People’s Great Hall of China with senior Chinese officials? A post-retirement seat in the National People’s Congress, or some cosmetic role somewhere in the Chinese Communist Party?

As she looks at herself in the mirror, has the thought crossed her mind that she could have gone down in history as a heroic figure defending democracy and standing up to Beijing on behalf of the people of Hong Kong? It would have been a rousing crescendo to her decades of faithful service in Hong Kong’s government. She may even be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize or TIME Magazine’s person of the year.

With her sumptuous pension from her civil service years and husband and sons with British citizenship, she would have a comfortable life in some English cottage basking in her signature role in the history of Hong Kong. 

Carrie Lam and Xi Jinping. File photo: GovHK.

Instead, her incompetence, arrogance, and total prostration to Beijing has made her what China levelled at the last British colonial governor Chris Patten of Hong Kong: “a sinner for a thousand years.” She will not find any liberal democratic civil society that welcomes her domicile in her retirement years, despite her husband and sons’ British citizenship. China will be the only place where she will find open arms. If she does take up residence there, she will experience first-hand life in a repressive dictatorship.

I wonder if that thought crosses her mind as she walks away from the mirror.

Tom Yam

Tom Yam a member of the Citizens Task Force on Land Resources, a group of professionals dedicated to broaden and facilitate the debate on critical issues including sustainable development, the optimal use of land, and the conservation of resources.