Mar 20 2013

Featured Alumni: Emily Lau (MSc in International Relations, 1982)

Emily Lau
MSc in International Relations (1982)

Emily Lau is a member of the Legislative Council in the seat of New Territories East, and Chairwoman of the Democratic Party in Hong Kong.

Emily Lau

Emily Lau

I received my MSc in IR from the LSE in 1982. After that I continued my journalistic career by joining the BBC TV Current Affairs Department. In December 1984, after signing the Joint Declaration with the Chinese Premier Zhao Ziyang on the future of the colony of Hong Kong, Mrs Margaret Thatcher flew to Hong Kong to give a press conference. I was then working as the Hong Kong correspondent of the Far Eastern Economic Review and I put the following question to her: “Prime Minister two days ago you signed an agreement with China promising to deliver over 5 million people into the hands of a communist dictatorship. Is that morally defensible, or is it really true that in international politics the highest form of morality is one’s own national interest?”

Mrs Thatcher brushed me off and said everyone in Hong Kong was happy with the agreement, and I may be a solitary exception. To prove the Iron Lady wrong, I got myself elected to Hong Kong’s lawmaking body — the Legislative Council — in September 1991. That was the first time the Hong Kong people had a chance to elect their legislators by one-person, one-vote, and I became the first directly elected female legislator.

Throughout the years, in my work as a broadcast and print journalist and later as a politician, the study at the LSE helped me to think and plan strategically and analytically. At the LSE, I met some people from other countries and we remained good friends for over 30 years. My LSE experience heightened my awareness and interest in activities of the global civil society and widened my perspective on the fight for human rights and universal core values. It also helped to pave the way for my many lobbying trips to the various human rights treaty bodies at the United Nations.

In my fight for democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Hong Kong and the People’s Republic of China, I am indebted to the LSE for the learning experience and the people I have met.

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