Carrie Lam has served as Chief Executive of Hong Kong since 2017 湯惠芸

Three student groups from Hong Kong, along with the University of Hong Kong Student Union, have written an open letter to Wolfson College President Jane Clarke, calling for the retraction of an honorary fellowship granted to Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam last year.

They argued that the honorary fellowship bestowed upon Lam was “a misstep to be corrected” and that Wolfsonians “should be ashamed for being associated with such a fellow”.

The President of Wolfson College did not respond to Varsity’s request for comment.

The Current Affairs Discussion Group in Cambridge, Democracy for Hong Kong, and The Bridgian, a UK-Hong Kong political student group, wrote in their letter that Lam “abused her positions” on many occasions during her tenure as Chief Secretary until 2017, and Chief Executive since 2017. The Chief Executive is the the representative of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and also the head of the Government of Hong Kong.

They added that such actions from her amount to “transgressions of the much-cherished principles of the College and University, namely, the pursuit of democracy, freedom of academic expression, and speech.”

During her term, nine candidates were barred from entering Legislative Council elections by the government over concerns surrounding whether they will uphold the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, while six lawmakers were disqualified from government-filed legal challenges.

The recent expulsion of Victor Mallet, a Financial Times journalist and Vice-president of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Hong Kong, after hosting pro-independence advocate Chan Ho-tin also garnered criticism towards Lam and was cited in the open letter.

A spokesperson for Wolfson College said, “Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor is a Wolfson alumna, having completed a programme for senior government administrators in Cambridge. It is this connection, and her many achievements in the Hong Kong administration, including being the first woman elected Chief Executive, that led to her fellowship.

They highlighted the “numerous other awards” for public service which Lam has received, including being named an Officier de la Légion d’Honneur by the French Government.


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They explained: “In common with many Cambridge Colleges, Honorary Fellowships are awarded by the College’s Governing Body to people of distinction who have a close connection to the College. The decision to award Lam such a fellowship was taken by the Governing Body and there are no plans to revisit that decision.”

Evan Fowler, an independent journalist and writer from Hong Kong who attended a Cambridge Union panel discussion on Hong Kong’s future, reasserted that Carrie Lam should not have been awarded a fellowship from Wolfson College in an opinion piece on Hong Kong Free Press after the event.

“By awarding Carrie Lam an honorary fellowship, a Cambridge college has chosen to both strengthen and promote a relationship” Fowler wrote. He argued that this fellowship “provides her with reputation and understanding”, and even “a degree of legitimacy” which may be used to offset opposition.

Fowler concluded: “The Hong Kong that Ms. Lam has shaped — increasingly restricted and authoritarian, illiberal, intolerant and afraid — represents the antithesis of what a university like Cambridge should champion.”

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