All Rise for the Secretary of Demolition

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Hong Kong’s secretary for development, Carrie Lam, is also the government official with ultimate authority over our antiquities and monuments. This startling conflict of interest emerged during last week’s judicial review of the fate of Hong Kong’s Queen’s Pier—a Grade 1 historic monument that Lam is about to bulldoze and tastefully replace with a road.
To put this woman in charge of Hong Kong’s few remaining scraps of heritage is like asking a supermodel to look after a bag of coke. How, one might reasonably ask, is she expected to comprehend the importance of historic architecture when her performance is benchmarked by her ability to destroy old neighborhoods? Hers is an untenable position, and brings to mind Upton Sinclair’s well known remark: “It is difficult to get a person to understand something when their salary depends on their not understanding it.