Not too long ago Leung Chai-Yan deliberately raised tensions at the height of Occupy Central by posting photos of extravagant consumption and “thanking” taxpayers for funding her lavish lifestyle. The condescending posts immediately resulted into name-calling on both sides.
But in just a few months, public sentiment has dramatically shifted. Chai-Yan is now portrayed as a fragile young adult claiming to have suffered from domestic abuse, and desperately trying to escape the wrath of her controlling parents – all to no avail.
Leung Chun-ying, of course, took the brunt of the criticism. Journalists feast on such rare opportunities of public embarrassment, and several even initiated campaigns to demand ‘the release of Chai-yan’.
An emotionally unstable daughter should not be used by opponents to achieve political ends. Comparing Leung’s handling of the Umbrella Movement versus that of his spoiled child is an unfit characterisation that is both unfair to Leung, and degrading to the spirit of democracy. Judging Leung’s parenting skills based on a one-sided narrative and then linking it to his role as Chief Executive is tenuous at best.
Chai-yan’s precedents of making provocative statements and sparking public outrage cause me to doubt the credibility of her words and her decision to involve the cops – who left shortly after and amounted to a complete waste of manpower. Any real adult should know that the correct way to launch those grave accusations is through private channels instead of via social media.
The entire farce would have probably lost its appeal in a few days, had CY Leung not issued a public condemnation of columnist Joseph Lian Yi-zheng for “crossing the line”. Perhaps Leung did not learn from the backlash that generated when he denounced a university publication during his policy address. Lian’s article would have gone unnoticed after a while anyhow.
It merely stated that both Chai-yan and Hong Kong shared strong influences of liberalism from Britain, which eventually sparked a steak of defiance in the minds of the young. It was not another cliched essay calling for Leung’s resignation, nor was it a simple-minded argument concluding that Leung has utterly failed as a guardian. Mr Lian, in this case, had not violated Leung’s rights of privacy by simply drawing comparisons between well-known facts.
Furthermore, public figures should have the capacity to allow dissent and remain silent – even if they personally disagree with a certain perspective. When Malia Obama was sexualized, falsely rumoured to be pregnant, and unjustly attacked by Elizabeth Lauten for “dressing like she deserves a spot in a bar”, the White House responded to none of the malicious comments. There were no legal documents or vows to sue journalists for defamation.
A famous quote from Mark Twain comes to mind as I write this: “The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause."