Wolfson College of Cambridge University recently announced that it will be considering stripping Hong Kong Leader Carrie Lam off her Honorary Fellowship. She was bestowed with this prestigious Fellowship in 2017. The announcement comes days after the controversial National Security Law was finally implemented in Hong Kong City igniting widespread outrage and protests on the streets. The President of Wolfson College Jane Clarke in her official statement on 1 July 2020 said that the college “strongly supports the protection of human and freedom of expression of all its members” and promised that the “governing Body will be considering Lam as an Honorary Fellow of the college”.
The National Security Law criminalizes Secession (breaking away from the country), Subversion (undermining the power of Communist Party of China), Terrorism or Collusion (Using or instigating violence that can cause a threat to citizen’s security). Hong Kong has its own constitution called the Basic Law. Under its Article 23, the Chinese Special Administrative Region is required to build its own National Security Law but China has always been interfering with this provision to use it for its own advantage. When the National People’s Congress proposed a National Security (Legislative Provisions) Bill 2003 in February to the legislative council of Hong Kong, it resulted in 1 July Protests which brought 500,000 citizens to the streets. Finally, the Bill was withdrawn as the local legislative council couldn’t pass it considering massive outrage. But, this time Beijing took matters into its own hands and prepared the draft bill and bypassed the procedure of submitting it to the council. Lam being the head of the city, supported this decision and called the protestors, “enemies of people”.
Protests broke out in Hong Kong the very next day and on 1 July the law was passed leading to more than 300 arrests. There were several incidents reported of police brutality. The spookiest provision of the newly implemented National Security Law was punishment up to life imprisonment if found guilty. It is basically a threat to the democratic protestors who will be deemed terrorists by the Chinese Government. The judicial trials will just be a facade as they are in mainland China as for the cases of National Security, Beijing’s puppet leader Carrie Lam will herself choose the judges for the hearing. According to data, China which is a one-party dictatorship has a conviction rate of 99%.
Carrie Lam who is often referred to as “the puppet of Beijing” became the first woman on 1 July 2017 to become the Chief Executive of Hong Kong (Special Administrative Region). She was sworn in by the Chinese President Xi Jinping himself. The Cheif Executive is generally selected by the Communist Party of China. Lam is the least popular leader in Hong Kong compared to the former Chief Executives and the downfall in her popularity plummeted right after she assumed the office. It is also alleged that she removed many of her pro-democracy scholars and professors from their government posts or stalled their promotions.
In 2018, she banned the Pro-democracy Hong Kong National Party at the behest of the Chinese government. The decision led to her international scrutiny with people labelling her as a murderer of democracy. The same year a bunch of Wolfson College students demanded the University to reaccess her Honorary fellowship. The students in an open letter wrote, “Lam has on sundry occasions abused her position, as chief secretary until 2017 and chief executive since 2017, to threaten the democracy, freedom of academic expression and of speech, of Hong Kong and its people”. There was also an incident where she slammed a scholar for speaking about Hong Kong’s independence at a forum. Her administration barred many of the leaders to fight the elections due to their democratic stance. The students even added that the reputation of the University must be guarded and “Wolfsonians shall be ashamed for being associated with such a fellow”.
In 2019, Lam introduced the Chinese constructed Hong Kong Extradition Bill which if passed would have allowed the authorities to send criminal suspects in Hong Kong to mainland China for a trial. The movie made nearly 1 million people march against the bill which was one of the biggest protests in Hong Kong after 1997 demonstrations. The protests were peaceful but the law enforcement used ammunitions against the locals to curb their voices. Lam was internationally slammed for human rights violations. On June 4, 2020, a petition was signed by nearly 120,000 students against the authoritarian bill. 1 June 2020, saw protestors storming to the legislature building, damaging the building and spraying graffiti painted on its walls. Lam said those millions of protestors have had “no stake in the society”. After months of protests, Lam finally gave in and withdrew the bill to be reviewed in the legislature on September 4.
On November 13, 2019, three of UK’s Parliamentarians named Patron Lord Alton, Baroness Natalie Bennett, and Baroness Lindsay Northover wrote to Cambridge University and Wolfson College to immediately retract her Honorary Fellowship. They blamed Lam for the tensions which mounted in Hong Kong due to her “a series of bad decisions” and the situation was a result of “Ms Lam’s combination of incompetence and aggressive approach”. On December, she faced an impeachment motion for her misconduct and abuse of power during the protests but was saved because of her support from Pro-Beijing Lawmakers
It is ironic that many of her contemporaries remember her as a pro-democracy activist from her college days. The bureaucrat turned Chinese appointed leader has faced several demands from the Hong Kong citizens to resign but neither has she stepped down nor has she taken any responsibility for her actions. Due to her failure to pass the Extradition Bill, Beijing stepped in to pass the National Security Bill by giving complete disregard to the Basic Law. Famous media portal ‘The Atlantic’ called her Hong Kong’s Leader that “Killed Her City” and we can’t agree more.
Image Source: The Hindustan Times