It was more of a surprise to me than, say, Jack Nicholson coming out of the closet at the age of 80 and admitting that he’d been gay all along. That was how I received the news of chief secretary Stephen Lam’s announcement that he was going to study theology at Oxford after June 30 when his term as chief secretary of the current Donald Tsang administration expires. As a Christian, so emphasized the second-most-powerful man in the SAR government, he would be interested in further exploring the meaning of Christianity by pursuing a 12-month certificate course at the prestigious institution. The announcement came as a shock to the public at a sensitive time: Lam had long been rumored to be another underground Hong Kong Communist Party member, and it was even speculated that he would to remain chief secretary to assist alleged Hong Kong Communist Party suspect number one, chief executive-elect CY Leung, in sorting out a list of nasty duties including bring back the Article 23 legislation—an option allegedly rejected by Leung, who could see Lam’s unpopularity as a burden. Lam, also dubbed “Lam the Chief Eunuch,” has hit a record low in opinion polls as a result of his persistent professional knee-jerk mimicry of hardline patriotic rhetoric as required in his previous role as secretary for constitutional and mainland affairs. With baubles like an OBE and GBS awarded by Prince Charles a few hours before the Union Jack came down on June 30, 1997, considered together with his unabashed post-handover die-hard loyalty to Beijing, Lam is likely to have transformed into an abbot when he comes back from Oxford next year. Although this could mean burning his own bridges for a future career serving the Chinese Communist Party, whose long history of hatred toward the Christian god is beyond doubt. Beijing has kept quiet over Lam’s latest decision. But it could have been taken aback and relieved that Lam had not been re-appointed as chief secretary before revealing his true colors as more or less belonging to the same religious clique as Martin Lee, Donald Tsang and Jimmy Lai. Although Lam has expressed his humble wish to resume his service to the Motherland after he finishes his studies, I doubt whether it would be granted. If any official can take a yearlong no-pay leave to seek academic asylum from God provided by our former colonial power, and then that desertee is allowed to rejoin the SAR government… Then I’d be afraid more than half of Hong Kong’s officials would follow his example by swarming to enroll in the same theology course simply as a brief escape from CY Leung’s dictatorship—in the same way monks hid themselves in abbeys to escape the plague in the 14th century. This would leave the admissions office at Oxford flooded with as many Chinese applicants as the LV and Chanel shops on Canton Road are drowned in mainland Chinese shoppers—something both Oxford and Beijing would be loath to see. Chip Tsao is a best-selling author, columnist and a former producer for the BBC. His columns have also appeared in Apple Daily, Next Magazine and CUP Magazine, among others.