Flying into the cuckoo's nest

Editorial | Mary Ma 17 Jan 2020

Should Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor take the lead to agree to at least a double-digit pay cut to bear responsibility for the massive pain Hong Kong is suffering?

That's an interesting question - probably the most interesting raised during the entire question-and-answer session between Lam and lawmakers in the Legislative Council yesterday.

She told Eunice Yung Hoi-yan, a follower of former security secretary Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, that she would consider her suggestion - albeit stopping short of committing to accepting it.

Perhaps Lam should have agreed to it right away as this could be the least cost she has to face.

Better still, she could ask other responsible officials and lawmakers to follow suit in the wake of their performance - or, rather, ill-performance - over the past months.

Yesterday's attendance in Legco to face a grilling by lawmakers was Lam's first since last October when she had to abandon making her policy speech in front of them and deliver it via video instead.

Yesterday's exchanges in the chamber weren't particularly out of the ordinary, with everyone sticking to their well-known positions.

The pan-democratic opposition attempted to grill Lam but without much success after they were unable to produce new evidence to substantiate long-standing accusations.

The allegation of police "brutality" has been a fallacy used by the radicals and opposition to fuel the crisis.

Lam stuck to the long-held position that there has been none of the kind. And no matter how angry opposition lawmakers felt about it, could they be so unrealistic to expect the chief executive to state otherwise?

But elsewhere - inside the vicious lions' den of the Central and Western District Council dominated by opposition councillors - police commissioner Chris Tang Ping-keung put in a much better performance.

This was despite facing a phalanx of grandstanding acolytes scrambling to grab the spotlight by hurling scurrilous falsehoods at him including accusing the police of murdering and raping protesters.

Instead of remaining passive, Tang tried to be proactive.

He knows the public is gravely concerned that individual officers have resorted to certain means to hide their identities. This is so they cannot be named and held responsible for any wrongdoings while cracking down on protesters.

The force's No 1 officer was categorical that it was improper for his officers to cover their unique operation call signs - a relatively new identity code that only the force knows.

That was a fair reply, although the answer would not have satisfied everyone.

There was also the incident of a district councillor dangling a piece of pork flesh in front of Tang to imply many prosecutions were framed.

Guess what Tang did in response to challenges like this and others? He instantly confronted the councillors by taking the widely circulated - but never proven - claims that a number of protesters were beaten to death at Prince Edward MTR Station on August 31.

There was little the opposition-controlled district council could dispute because, again, they had no hard evidence to counter Tang's fake-news denial.

It's a good sign that, after seven months of anti-government protests, law and order is gradually being restored although there may still be some currents underneath.


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