The Hong Kong College of Psychiatrists has issued a statement condemning lawmaker Ann Chiang Lai-wan for comments she made against her filibustering colleagues in Legislative Council (LegCo) on Wednesday.
Chiang said lawmakers had to remain in the meeting room to prevent adjournment due to constant calls for quorum. She compared herself and fellow legislators to psychiatrists – who, she said, were likely to be mentally ill because “[they] listen to mentally ill patients too much [that] they become insane themselves.”
Chiang added that lawmakers needed a rest from the fillibustering before they began to suffer from Stockholm syndrome.
The College of Psychiatrists said in their statement: “We regret to hear that an honourable member of the legislative council expressed an untrue and derogatory statement about psychiatrists and patients with mental problems,” adding that her statement could deter people from receiving help.
“We express our strongest condemnation over this incident,” it said.
Eric Chen Yu-hai, President of the College, told Apple Daily that he did not expect a public figure to say such a thing at a public occasion. “Using examples of mental illness to describe the behaviour of people you don’t like is an extremely serious insult to patients,” he said.
The same report quoted John Wong Yee-him, also a member of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong and a psychiatrist, who said in a statement that using the word “insane” to describe a patient’s symptom was inappropriate, and demanded an apology from Chiang.
According to the College, Chiang’s statements had “no place in a civilised society” and highlighted the need to tackle negative perception about mental illness.
Chiang said that her original intention was to show how pan-democrats were wasting time and resources through filibuster. She added that she had no intention of mislabelling or discriminating anyone, and that she felt sorry if anyone was offended by her speech.
She did not respond to media enquiries about whether she would take back her comments and officially apologise.
Owing to the filibustering tactics employed by its opponents, the debate on the controversial copyright bill was delayed until Thursday morning. Hundreds of demonstrators protested at the LegCo demonstration area on Wednesday evening.