Insinuation against Lo Chung-mau at HKU council meeting was despicable

Alice Wu says suggestions that HKU council member Lo Chung-mau might have faked his fall during last week 's meeting were unworthy of any society that values decency

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 02 August, 2015, 9:02am
UPDATED : Sunday, 02 August, 2015, 9:02am

Adam Smith, the former chief financial officer of medical manufacturer Vante, lost his job after posting a video of him taking a stand against fast-food chain Chick-fil-A's anti-gay rights by berating a server in 2012. He has since written a book, and was reportedly living out of a trailer, jobless and living on food stamps.

Smith's story is a classic example of not whether his stance was "right", but whether the way he exercised his right to express his stance was acceptable. Obviously, his ex-employer didn't think him taking his frustrations out on a fast-food employee, or posting the video online, was "right" - at least, not for the company. Smith was quite remorseful afterwards, not for his stance, but for the way he spoke to the Chick-fil-A server. He said "For me, and at that moment, the main goal of supporting the gay community outweighed the collateral damage that Rachel [the server] became … And I literally just saw Rachel as collateral damage."

Well, who's Hong Kong's latest "collateral damage"? Liver transplant pioneer, surgeon, former president of the International Liver Transplantation Society, chair professor, award-winning top international expert in liver transplantation and hepatobiliary surgery, head of the University of Hong Kong's department of surgery, member of the university's governing body, and now "accused of diving like a cheating football player" Lo Chung-mau.

It was an insult framed as a question; it was 'kicking a man while he's down'

Lo was featured as part of this paper's "Moving Forward" series, and so his views on, say, the Occupy protests - he saw it as the city having "fallen ill" - and what he sees to be the problem of young people today are quite well-known. Also well-known are Lo's contributions to the medical field. In the 1990s, he and the chair professor of surgery at that time were among the first doctors to have brought transplantation skills to the city, pioneering new and innovative skills to refine surgical techniques and procedures for liver transplants.

One may disagree with Lo's views of today's youth or the Occupy protest or his stance on the pro-vice-chancellor post, but that is no justification in any way, shape or form to accuse him of feigning his fall or questioning the condition of his knee. The only people in any position to make that judgment would be the physicians who tended to him.

Perhaps it is easy to have fallen into the trap Smith had - "in the heat of the moment", as some like to say - to forget that the victim of one's disdain and frustration, however justified and "in our right", is a human being, one worthy of basic human respect. But that is no excuse.

"Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung once - in the heat of the moment - "questioned" whether the late Szeto Wah's cancer had metastasised to his brain for supporting the 2010 political reform package. That swipe will live in infamy, because it was tasteless, and the ugliest form of deliberate attack and discrimination against people who are ill when they simply disagreed with him.

Lo has been released from hospital, and his knee has been medically certified as injured. He was dragged into the defendant's seat in the latest public opinion courtroom drama, where no burden of proof is required for the merciless persecution laid on him.

It's absolutely senseless that the video footage of his fall would lead to the merciless "conclusions" that Lo's expressionless face, or the way he held his knee, to be proof that he faked it.

The feigned decency of those sarcastically questioning whether the good doctor is physically fit to perform surgery with his bad knee is despicable. It was an insult framed as a question; it was "kicking a man while he's down".

Aloysius Wilfred Raj Arokiaraj, an Indian PhD student at the university and a recently resigned member of the council, in his open letter to this newspaper, has a message not only for the HKU community, but for the wider society: "Have we lost our mind to anger? … Just because he might have different views, or we interpret it that way, we cannot start to disrespect him in any way."

Alice Wu is a political consultant and a former associate director of the Asia Pacific Media Network at UCLA