Questions about Hong Kong’s governance were raised yesterday after the city’s No 2 official said she believed she “has a place reserved in heaven” for enduring criticism for doing what is right.
Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, a Catholic, made the comment as she officiated at the opening ceremony of Caritas’ annual bazaar. “I attended a mass this morning, and it talked about the Eight Beatitudes,” Lam said.
“Some people have told me that the last of the eight fits me very much: It says, ‘Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice’s sake,’ because there is a place reserved for me in heaven. In fact, nowadays, as you work in the government, you are often criticised for doing what is just.”
Lam made the comment, which won her a round of applause, after Cardinal John Tong Hon’s speech, in which he praised Lam’s character.
“Lam has persevered and never given up [in the face of challenges] … She set a good example for us,” Tong said.
Jackie Hung Ling-yu, project officer of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Hong Kong Catholic Diocese, had reservations about Lam’s remarks.”It is only for the Lord to judge who has a place in heaven and who doesn’t … so while an official can comment on his or her own work, the people might have a different judgment,” Hung said.
Chinese University political scientist Ivan Choy Chi-keung said Lam’s comments could backfire. “I don’t think she has really been doing something very just recently, and the criticism she faces is also relatively lenient compared with other [government] ministers … She has to be careful when she mentions religion,” Choy said.
Just two weeks ago, Lam said she was prepared to endure personal attacks for ordering officials not to be pressured into drinking possibly contaminated water from estates where excessive levels of lead were found.
“I have the guts to take the risk of being criticised when I seek justice for our diligent civil servants,” she said on October 16.
The Beatitudes are the eight points given by Jesus in his teachings known as “the Sermon on the Mount,” and are recorded in the book of Matthew in the Holy Bible.
The eight Beatitudes in Matthew 5:3–12 during the Sermon on the Mount:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.” (5:3)
“Blessed are those who mourn: for they will be comforted.” (5:4)
“Blessed are the meek: for they will inherit the earth.” (5:5)
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness: for they will be filled.” (5:6)
“Blessed are the merciful: for they will be shown mercy.” (5:7)
“Blessed are the pure in heart: for they will see God.” (5:8)
“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they will be called children of God.” (5:9)
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (5:10)