"If you want to read a blog to get a sense of what is going on in Hong Kong these days or a blog that would tell you what life was like living in colonial Hong Kong, this blog, WALTER'S BLOG, fits the bill." Hong Kong Blog Review
"It's not five-star accommodation, neither is it Club Med. Yet, it's clean and well-provisioned"
Our 'Dear Leader' has spoken. Carrie Lam made it clear that her formidable shoulders will carry the burden of implementing Hong Kong's political 'reforms'. Should we applaud her? At the back of my mind, her statement stirred something from my school days. Then it came back to me, Squealer's address from Animal Farm:
"Comrades, I trust that every animal here appreciates the sacrifice that Comrade Napoleon has made in taking this extra labour upon himself. Do not imagine, comrades, that leadership is a pleasure! On the contrary, it is a deep and heavy responsibility."
For sure, Carrie Lam has a thankless task, made harder by her lack of empathy and self-awareness. As more families with young children faced quarantine in the Penny's Bay facility, Carrie's robotic side was on full display.
It's not five-star accommodation, neither is it Club Med. Yet, it's clean and well-provisioned. Then stories emerged of breast-feeding mothers separated from their babies; while restrained in cots; toddlers faced days of purgatory. Last year we had this self-entitled lady over-egging it with concentration camp claims. She's now gone to ground.
I'm told Hong Kong's Mumsnet went into hyperventilation mode. But, the hype soon became clear. As far as I can tell one mother faced separation, after she'd opted to place her child into hospital care, and then relented. She is now back with the kid.
Less tolerable is the now admitted practice of physically restraining children. No matter how you cut it, this procedure is medieval with or without the parent's permission. Surely we can do better because flashing around the world is the message that Hong Kong ties up babies.
Meanwhile, a clip is circulating of an expatriate family in Pennys Bay with the wife bemoaning the conditions. She has two kids. And, yes, she will struggle with two youngsters in such a room for weeks. Yet, these conditions are not unknown to most Hongkongers, who live in tiny spaces. Mrs Chan from a tenement in Sham Shui Po dreams of such luxury. Thus, sympathy from the majority? Forget it.
In all this hullabaloo, a simmering anti-expatriate vibe emerged. That a Chinese couple kicked-off the complaints about child separation doesn't sit well with the narrative of whinging Expats. Then you have the chap in the clip below, full of praise of the facilities as he undergoes testing at North Lantau Hospital.
Into this fray, steps 'caring' Carrie. In her public statements, she hits all the proper technical notes; follow the law, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, and blah, blah, blah. In all this, she manages to display not an ounce of affinity or humanity. All it would take is, "As a mother, I understand these concerns. We will seek to make the children's stay as comfortable as possible." Instead, nothing except "We are compassionate" when her tone suggests otherwise.
All the research tells us the importance of empathetic gestures and compassion in modern leadership. These traits go a long way to anchoring authentic leaders. Did Carrie get that memo?
And then she went even further, claiming that the public is not cooperating over Covid vaccinations. I wonder why? Leadership models tell us that Carrie has five kinds of power she can exert to get people to take vaccines.
Expert power: get the doctors to tell the people the facts. That approach falters because the 'experts' disagree as they jockey for the media spotlight and their 15-minutes of fame. A politicised medical profession doesn't help.
Referent power: this all about being liked and respected. You can see the issue. Even within the pro-government camp, Carrie doesn't enjoy much affection.
Coercive power: punish those who don't get vaccinated. This one doesn't look tenable given political sentiment. Forcing people plays into the loss of freedoms narrative.
Legitimate power: if people feel Carrie is a legitimate leader, they'll respond and get vaccinated. Again, you can see the issue. Only 40 per cent of the population view Carrie Lam as legit. The rest reject her or don't care.
Reward power: induce people to comply by rewarding them.
I reckon the last option is Carrie's best bet. Also, I'm prepared to help with suggestions based on my extensive observations of society. A careful review of Hong Kong history points the way with helpful precedents. Every time McDonald's offered a free toy with a burger, the lines went around the block. Plus, back in the day before I became a potential vector for Mad Cow disease, I'd empty an arm full of blood at the Red Cross. A cold San Miguel followed as reward and rehydration.
And contrary to Carrie's disingenuous claims, over a quarter of a million folks have cooperated in getting their first shot. There you go, Carrie. Give away Hello Kitty dolls to the younger crowd while free beer works for me.
You know it makes sense. Cheers!
Walter De Havilland was one of the last of the colonial coppers. He served 35 years in the Royal Hong Kong Police and Hong Kong Police Force. He's long retired.