You can’t sit with us: Cambridge college considers revoking Carrie Lam of honorary fellowship

Chief Executive Carrie Lam speaks at a press conference on July 1, 2020. Photo via YouTube/Information Services Department
Chief Executive Carrie Lam speaks at a press conference on July 1, 2020. Photo via YouTube/Information Services Department

Hong Kong wants nothing to do with Carrie Lam. It turns out, neither does a UK college the embattled leader graduated from more than 30 years ago.

Cambridge University’s Wolfson College said Wednesday that it may strip Lam of her honorary fellowship, citing the effect of the national security law on the city.

“Wolfson College strongly supports the protection of human rights and the freedom of expression of all its members,” said President of Wolfson College Jane Clarke, adding that the college is “deeply concerned by recent events in Hong Kong following the enactment” of the law.

Read more: Hong Kong activists Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Agnes Chow resign from Demosisto as Beijing passes national security law

“The Governing Body will be considering Mrs Lam’s position as an Honorary Fellow of the College,” the statement continues.

Lam was awarded the honour by the college, where she completed a program for senior government administrators, in 2017. (Her studies were sponsored by the colonial government in 1982.) A spokesperson for the college explained then that the award was based on “her many achievements in the Hong Kong administration, including being the first woman elected Chief Executive.”

Last year, three UK lawmakers wrote a letter to both the college and Cambridge University calling on the institution to retract Lam’s fellowship. They accused the city’s leader of her “incompetence and aggressive approach in handling the anti-extradition protests.”

The controversial national security law was passed in Beijing’s top legislature the night before the former British colony’s 23rd anniversary of its handover to Chinese rule.

Thousands of Hongkongers took to the streets the next day. At least 370 people were arrested, including a man who was dramatically apprehended at the Hong Kong airport after boarding a London-bound flight. He is suspected of stabbing a police officer during a violent confrontation earlier that afternoon.

Under the new legislation, offenders stand to face a maximum penalty of life imprisonment if found guilty of acts of secession, subversion, terrorism or collusion with foreign forces.

Of the four Chief Executives that Hong Kong has had since it became a Special Administrative Region in 1997, Lam is the least popular. Her support ratings plunged to record lows at the height of the anti-government protests last year.

Her colleagues and acquaintances describe the Beijing-elected leader as highly intelligent, but also overly demanding, fiercely headstrong and belittling, according to the Atlantic.

Last year, Lam denied reports that her attempts to resign from office were turned down from Beijing authorities who demanded that she “clean up the mess she created.”

If the Cambridge college withdraws Lam’s fellowship, the unpopular leader will be the city’s second pro-establishment figure to have her education credentials revoked over human rights’ concerns.

Last summer, pro-Beijing lawmaker Junius Ho—who has been accused of orchestrating a violent attack on protesters in Yuen Long station last July—had his honorary doctorate revoked by UK institution Anglia Ruskin University.

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