Carrie Lam steels herself for a bumpy ride
Palace Museum and hi-tech hub on long-idle land at border are both worthy projects initiated by the chief executive hopeful, yet critics are not convinced
Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes. That was the Latin phrase that Sean Connery quoted, in the 1996 action film The Rock, to Nicolas Cage, who helpfully translated it for us as “I fear the Greeks, even when they bear gifts.”
Our legislature is no longer filled with English public school-educated Brits well-versed in the ancient language. Otherwise, they might have quoted the famous line from Virgil’s Aeneid during a grilling of Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor over the planned Hong Kong version of the Palace Museum at the arts hub. The Virgil line helpfully sums up the furore over the museum: just substitute Greeks with Chinese. Too bad, nowadays, instead of useful classical references to the Trojan Horse, we have the usual lawmakers jumping on their high horses.
“Hongkongers were left in the dark,” lawmaker Claudia Mo Man-ching said. “You treated Hongkongers as nothing. It’s the darkest deed of your three-decade-long career.”
Her former Civic Party colleague, Kwok Ka-ki, has demanded that Lam apologise. “[It’s] a perfect illustration of how core values are twisted,” he said.
If you didn’t know what they were ranting about, you would have thought someone had unearthed a major government scandal or conspiracy. As it was, they were unhappy that the public were not consulted over a project that had the Jockey Club funding a museum to house some of the nation’s most valuable treasures in Hong Kong at no cost to the public coffers.
As my fellow Post columnist Michael Chugani has observed, if they were to display the British royal crown jewels or masterpieces from the Louvre, no one would have done a thing. But anything to do with the mainland is suspect. We no longer have the ability to pick and choose battles. Everything is war, however minor or irrelevant. That’s paranoia fuelled by the usual pan-democratic opportunism. Their strategy has been to discredit the government by any means to make it into a self-fulfilling prophecy that the entire political system doesn’t work.
Since Lam is about to run for the top job, the discrediting campaign has started. The museum has been a godsend; also the planned hi-tech hub at the Lok Ma Chau Loop. Both have been her babies. “Smearing or humiliating me is fine,” Lam said.
She is steeling herself for the next five years.