Public relations stunts don’t usually work to enhance your standing, but at least they can distract people from entertaining even nastier thoughts about you. When bird flu, Hong Kong’s first post-handover epidemic, first broke out, then health director Margaret Chan Fung Fu-chun took an entourage of bureaucrats to a lunch full of chicken dishes and told the press corps tailing her that she ate the bird every day. For sure, she was ridiculed for the statement, but people realised that she was at least trying. She went on to greener pastures, to become the director general of the World Health Organization. With this Covid-19 pandemic, it seems Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and her key officers aren’t even trying. About 40 per cent of Hong Kong youth averse to Covid-19 vaccine: survey As the government readies for mass vaccination of the population, possibly starting this month, people have expressed concerns about the safety of the new vaccines, especially those from the mainland. That’s understandable. The best Lam and other top officials can do is to try to reassure the public. Instead, at a conference last month, she lashed out at malicious rumours. “Just like all our other anti-epidemic works, there was malicious spreading of rumours, people stigmatising and politicising the vaccine procurement, while they quoted unidentified persons with negative comments,” she said. That doesn’t sound reassuring. It did provoke more anger and resentment against her. Okay, at least she took a U-turn to allow the public to choose vaccines from Britain and the United States when they become available. Carrie Lam blasts ‘malicious’ rumours over mainland Chinese vaccine I recently tried to be helpful and suggested to Lam and some of her top guys that maybe they should publicly take the Chinese-made jab – first, to prove their patriotism and, second, to reassure the public of their safety. What’s not to like? Here are the replies. From Lam’s office: “The chief executive has said in public that she and the governing team will get vaccinated at the first instance when any of the Covid-19 vaccines has been authorised for emergency use in Hong Kong.” From that of Secretary for Food and Health Professor Sophia Chan Siu-chee: “The [secretary] has indicated that she would receive the vaccine at the launch of the vaccination programme to encourage the public to be vaccinated.” And from the office of Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung: “Mr Cheung will get vaccinated as soon as a vaccine is approved for emergency use in Hong Kong.” Say no more. Just a suggestion.