Politics used to be waged in backrooms and the media. The new front is social media where intelligence, biting opinion and cutting satire can spread like wildfire to make or break a politician or policy initiative. HT‘s new interview series, S.M.I.L.E.R. (Social Media Influencer and Leaders Extraordinare Report), starts with Kay Lam (林忌), who made a name for himself in the social media scene as early as 2006. Lam now has more than 25,000 followers on Facebook – a truly influential opinion maker.
Why did you pick ‘Kay Lam’ as your pseudonym?
The pseudonym has two meanings. In Chinese, ‘Kay’ ( 忌) means ‘evasion’, ref lecting the mentality of not to talk too much about sensitive social and political issues, which is shared by most ordinary people. But these are exactly
the issues that I want to raise.
It can also be divided into two characters – ‘oneself’ (己) and ‘heart’ ( 心). Since I am a supporter of free market economy, I interpret it as a drive for self-optimisation.
How would you explain your fame on the Internet?
I attribute this to the rise of social media – or rather the decline of traditional media. The latter fails to meet an increasing demand for international and cross-strait news among younger generations. Even when it does, the reports tend to be either inaccurate or misinterpreted.
That is why my Facebook page serves as a platform for sharing global news and picking out the mistakes made by professional journalists. I also write on international affairs regularly for Radio Free Asia. I am glad that people do appreciate my efforts.
What is your political stance?
I tend to identify myselfas a glocalist – a mix of globalist and localist. The term may sound awkward but it is particularly relevant to the current Hong Kong political scene. Internationalisation is an encouraging phenomenon; influence from the mainland is not. If we don’t stress our identity as Hongkongers and simply open up our market and resources to outsiders – which basically means mainlanders, it would be easy for Beijing to achieve its political and economic agenda by manipulating patriotic sentiments in Hong Kong.
Therefore, unlike advocates of a pure free market economy, I do think regulations in certain areas are necessary for protecting the interests of local inhabitants, such as places and scholarships in universities as well as beds in hospitals. Only through localism can we safeguard the city’s autonomy and its status as an international metropolitan, not as another quasi-colony of Beijing.
Do you have any comments on Government stepping up its control over online creativity?
This is certainly a concern for social media influencers like myself. However, as long as our Government lacks popularity, it will face great difficulties whenever it tries to tighten up regulations on online activities. And the longer it fails to accommodate localist sentiments in the city, the less likely it can claim legitimacy.
Do you have anything to add?
Hong Kong needs more English newspapers!
New Series: Social Media Influencers
Politics used to be waged in backrooms and the media. The new front is social media where intelligence, biting opinion and cutting satire can spread like wildfire to make or break a politician or policy initiative. Clippings are about yesterday’s news. Smart companies and politicians are monitoring social media to predict the news. HT looks at those people who are opinion makers in the realm of social media.