Saturday, October 12, 2019

Still protesting despite the many obstacles involved in doing so

A (surveillance?) helicopter hovered overhead
in Kowloon this afternoon
 Catching sight of Lion Rock in Sham Shui Po
Yesterday morning saw the dissemination of an updated Hong Kong protest schedule which included two protest marches starting half an hour apart from Tsim Sha Tsui.  Before the end of the day, updates came that the anti-emergency laws protest march would get priority.  However, other protest events scheduled to take place in various other parts of the territory this afternoon (including a 48-hour sit-in outside the police headquarters in Wan Chai by senior citizens) would go ahead as planned, and did indeed do so (including in shopping malls once more).
At the appointed time and place in Tsim Sha Tsui this afternoon, a crowd -- many braving the Face Covering Regulation and all fully aware that the police could appear to declare it an illegal assembly despite the Basic Law giving Hong Kongers the right to freely assemble and protest (see Article 27) -- assembled to do such as sing Glory to Hong Kong and vocally make their five demands.  Larger than the crowd that had assembled in Causeway Bay for a protest march the previous Saturday, it swelled, like last Saturday's, after the people got going and set off -- first along the edge of the Kowloon Peninsula and then northwards through Jordan, Yau Ma Tei, Mongkok, Sham Shui Po and up to Cheung Sha Wan -- with some individuals opting to go still further to Mei Foo.  
From what I gathered from friends and other sources, the tail end of today's march still was far back as Jordan after its head had reached its end destination.  So I'm more inclined to believe estimates of the protest's size as being in the thousands rather than just a little more than one thousand.  And while I was told that riot police had appeared along the march route at various points, I personally didn't spot any of Asia's not finest in Kowloon this afternoon (even while having done so after coming out of an evening film screening in Kowloon this past Thursday and while out grocery shopping on Hong Kong Island earlier today).
Part of me was indeed expecting to come across at least one team of riot police on the way home today -- since it's become par for the course for me on weekends on Hong Kong Island.  Thankfully, that was not the case -- and ditto re not catching any more whiffs of tear gas; something I particularly do not care to do sans protective mask.  Also quite the relief today was that public transportation was still running in the area where the protest march had ended -- again, not something one can take for granted anymore these days.  

Something those who harp about diminished protest attendance sizes in recent days and weeks don't want you to know: With each added week of protest (and we're into week 18, counting from June 9th -- when what was actually the third extradition bill protest march was held, with the first being back in March), it's not only gotten more difficult to get Letters of No Objection from the police for protests.  Rather, it's also gotten harder for people to get to protest events, and -- this even for peaceful protesters -- leave safely as well as conveniently after attending them.  
This is, of course, particularly after the MTR began pre-emptively closing down stations near protest events (even those which had received Letters of No Objection, like the Kwun Tong to Kowloon Bay march on August 24th) and, worse, began catering to the police rather than civilians.  Throw in the police stopping and searching buses, mini-buses, trams and such for law-breakers -- along with their pretty much taking to suspecting anyone dressed in black and/or who is young for being such -- and it should become clearer how inconvenient -- to put it mildly? -- it now can be to add one's voice to those seeking justice and democracy for Hong Kong.

And yet, people still keep on turning up to voice their love for Hong Kong and seeking what was promised under the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1997 and Basic Law.  Which brings me to one more point I really want to make clear: that, contrary to popular misperception, Hong Kong's pro-democracy protesters are not restricted to those of a youthful age but, rather, also do have a good number of silver-haired representatives and those in the generation(s) in between

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Incitements to further protest by way of police actions and pro-Beijing politicians' declarations

In Ma On Shan in less troubled times
Hike's end this past Christmas
Things have been on the quiet side the past few days, especially compared to the day that Carrie Lam announced that she'd slap a face covering ban on Hong Kongers and the troubled weekend that ensued after its coming into effect.  This is not to say though that things have gone back to normal though -- with the Mass Transit Railway (MTR) still closing early and not all of its stations being opened for business yet -- and, indeed, there are some of us who feel that Hong Kong's former normal is gone forever.  
At the same time, however, there are many aspects of this current situation that we never want to come to accept as the norm.  Take, as an example, shopping malls being looked upon as zones of conflict; and this especially since the design of many Hong Kong malls makes it so that they connect up to residential complexes and/or offices and down to train stations as well as often house medical clinics, tuition centers and multiplexes as well as a variety of shops and eateries. 
It's almost hard to imagine it now but early on during the extradition bill protests, the Pacific Place mall over in Admiralty was seen as a refuge for protesters because people just couldn't see the police rushing into there to attack and apprehend them.  Especially since July 14th, when mall mayhem ensued in Sha Tin, however, the idea of the riot police effectively running amok in malls as well as the streets of Hong Kong and the MTR is no longer unthinkable.   

Even so, it was quite the shock for many to see -- the majority via video which quickly went viral -- riot police forcing themself through the closed doors of a mall and a line of security guards trying to protect the other people inside it this past Monday.  And as if this was not enough to get one thinking that our world -- or, at least, the local constabulary -- had gone mad, yesterday, it was announced that the police had gone and arrested four of the security guards along with a customer relations officer at that Ma On Shan mall!
Less surprising was that, after news of the arrests spread, local residents went and gathered outside Ma On Shan police station to protest that action.  Incidentally, this happened on the same day that pro-Beijing politician Maria Tam stated that the Face Covering Regulation looked to already have had a deterrent effect in what can seem like a dare to Hong Kong people to go out and protest some more.  And, actually, I don't think she has to wait long for more protests to occur as there's one planned outside Tsim Sha Tsui police station later today, World Vision Day, in tribute of the Hong Kong first aider hit in the eye by police bean bag round in that area on August 11th -- ahead of which the Mira Place mall announced that it would close early today.
Moving away from malls: I can't help but notice how many of the places where I often have dinner -- or, at the very least, taken public transportation from -- after a hike, such as Yuen Long, Tsuen Wan Tsuen Wan and Tai Po, have been the sites of protests and violence in recent months.  Considering how far flung they are as well as were previously pretty free of trouble, it's a further sign of how widespread the ongoing anti-government protests and unrest are.          

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Adding oil to Hong Kong's fire and resistance

Not the kind of adding oil we want to see!

I guess Communist China didn't get its wish on its 70th birthday...
Hong Kong's least popular Chief Executive ever held yet another one of her ridiculous press conferences today.  At least this one didn't take place at 4am and Carrie Lam didn't drop a bombshell at it like she did four days ago with her invocation of a colonial-era Emergency Regulations Ordinance to introduce a Face Covering Regulation.  However, she did raise many people's blood pressure and eyebrows with her statement that it's too early to say if that controversial -- to say the least -- regulation is a failure.

Consider this: the very announcement that the regulation would be implemented led to spontaneous protests that began with thousands of workers going out onto the streets of Central and spreading to virtually every other district of Hong Kong.  A good measure of the scale of the protests can be seen in the Hong Kong police having fired of a total of 267 rounds of tear gas, 106 rubber bullets and various bean bag rounds, sponge grenades and live rounds of ammunition between last Friday and yesterday.  And a good measure of the de facto shutting down of Hong Kong that ensued can be seen by way of the MTR shutting down earlier than is usual for a Friday night last Friday, not being in operation all day Saturday (bar for limited service between Central and the airport), having limited service and closing early at 6pm yesterday, and staying open only until 8pm today.   
Together with the regulation Carrie Lam introduced on Friday and the extradition bill she had sought to make law, the police brutality and officers acting like they are above the law when ostensibly enforcing the law is what has fueled so much of the fury that has made protesters out of peace-loving Hong Kongers.  It is utterly tragic when one realizes that if Carrie Lam had withdrawn the extradition bill before the police over-reaction of June 12th (rather than dragged her feet to do so until September 5th), pretty much all of the tumult that Hong Kong has undergone in the more than 100 days since may well not have taken place (and there would have been just one demand to satisfy the protest camp).
As it stands, many of the people out on the streets were loudly chanting this weekend that there were now six demands, not five -- with the sixth being the disbandment of the Hong Kong police force.  And possibly in light of Carrie Lam having added too much oil to the flames that are engulfing Hong Kong, protesters are no longer chanting "Hong Kong yan, ga yau" (Hong Kongers, add oil)" but, instead, the more incendiary "Hong Kong yan, fan kong (which has been translated both as resist, and revolt)!

Sunday, October 6, 2019

On the third consecutive day of protests fuelled by the Face Covering Regulation

The umbrellas were out for a purpose this rainy afternoon

than many probably expected would be the case

One big reason for doing so: wanting to assure a future
for oneself, one's descendants, and Hong Kong

Since Carrie Lam's announcement that she would introduce a Face Covering Regulation on Friday afternoon, protesters have been out in droves in various parts of Hong Kong for three consecutive days in the row.  Amidst the violence that has been wrought over the past three days of unrest (including the shooting of a 14-year-old boy by a cop on Friday night and some stores and banks with pro-Beijing associations trashed), it can be lost on many people -- especially if they are reliant on media outlets that emphasize dramatic, exceptional happenings over quiet, "normal" actions -- that the majority of these protests and protesters have been non-violent.

In the interest of balancing out the picture, here's drawing attention to the fact that tens (possibly even hundreds) of thousands of people -- young, old, couples, families, groups of friends -- took part in protest marches on either side of Victoria Harbour today.  Despite stormy weather and the knowledge that the events would be ruled as "illegal assemblies" by the police, they came out to peacefully -- even if also vocally -- exercise their rights to freedom of movement, assembly, demonstration and speech which supposedly is guaranteed in the Basic Law (see Article 27), and fight -- though not literally -- for their future, future generations, and that of Hong Kong itself.  

While they may indeed have been some people out there "for kicks" (as some folks have alleged), let me assure you that the physical conditions today made it so that being outdoors was most emphatically not most people's idea of fun.  Then there was the risk of getting maltreated by the police who, among other things, are not above arresting children, unleashing still more tear gas buffets and seemingly randomly turning on innocents, including journalists.

So how come so many people were out there today?  I'd partly chalk it down to their absolute fury and strong sense of indignation at how the authorities have so badly misjudged the situation, and also the spirit of Hong Kong -- one which is far stronger and stubborn than Beijing and its lackeys in Hong Kong seem to realize. 

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Hong Kong on the first day of the Face Covering Regulation coming into effect

People were encouraged to not venture out 
today, a Saturday, in Hong Kong

The march was blessedly peaceful -- thanks in large part to 
the police making themselves scarce for the most part

After making my way to the restaurant in Causeway Bay that a friend had booked a table for lunch today, we found the entire building -- not just the dining establishment in question -- closed for the day.  But even while the area was unquestionably quieter and more deserted than usual, there still were a number of commercial establishments -- including opticians, jewellery shops and such along with eateries and bubble tea stalls -- that had decided to open for business and we easily found another place to have our dim sum lunch!  

Although I did receive the distinct impression that the government wanted people to stay home all day today, many people decided against doing so: some through sheer force of habit; others as a form of protest against Hong Kong turning into a de facto police state.  Other anti-government resistance came by way of a legal fight continuing to be waged against the Face Covering Regulation that Chief Executive (in name only) Carrie Lam introduced using emergency powers.  In addition, a large group of protesters -- many with some kind of face covering -- took to the streets this afternoon and marched from Causeway Bay to Central to show that they will not be cowed by one additional reason that the police would use to arrest them.

When this group first set off on their march, my initial impression was that the protesters -- for whom the enactment of the Face Covering Regulation is just one more complaint they have against the Hong Kong government -- were in danger of being outnumbered by the journalists milling about and covering their protest.  But as it moved westwards, the procession swelled as it picked up participants along the way -- so much so that what had seemed like just a group of few hundred looked much more like one which numbered in the thousands after a while.      

And while today's Hong Kong Island march initially looked to be the only public protest "game" in town, developments later in the day showed that -- rather than the MTR shut down having gotten protesters to stay at home, it actually got them to protest closer to where they lived and in more areas than otherwise would have been the case.  Thus it was that, on the other side of Victoria Harbour, protesters assembled to form a human chain and march from Tsim Sha Tsui to Sham Shui Po, and still more protesters took to the streets in Yuen Long and Wong Tai Sin.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Another disastrous proposed piece of legislation for Hong Kong :(

Spotted on a Hong Kong road (and lest it not be clear, 
Pepe the frog isn't seen the same way here as in the USA)

Umbrellas, face masks and black attire are 
regular parts of the Hong Kong scene, protest or not!

Things were not helped by news having spread like wildfire yesterday of the Hong Kong government planning to invoke emergency laws to introduce a ban on the wearing of face masks at protests.  Among the reactions was this tweet from South China Morning Post reporter Chris Lau: "Just some thoughts and facts in perspective: If the anti-mask law goes through, it means the government thinks it's actually easier to evoke an emergency law than simply answer to the protesters' demand to have an independent commission of inquiry to get it over and done with".

And a Citizens' Press Conference organized by anti-extradition bill/pro-democracy protesters, a group spokesperson said: “We are not afraid. The Carrie Lam regime can’t frighten us off. The pro-government people like to boast that there are also anti-mask laws in overseas countries. It is laughable. Those are democratic countries. How can Hong Kong, a place where there is no democracy, compare with those countries?”

Despite rational-thinking people looking upon the proposed move by the government as  downright farcical -- to the point that some of us couldn't believe it would happen -- and inevitably going to add more oil to the fire already burning in Hong Kong, Hong Kong's most unpopular Chief Executive ever went ahead and announced this afternoon that a Face Covering Regulation would come into effect at midnight tonightBecause of the way she's gone about doing things, legal challenges are inevitable -- and at least one person has announced the mounting of a legal objection to this regulation

In the meantime, more protests and unrest have erupted across Hong Kong today.  (A good sense of how widespread the disruptions are can be seen by way of the entire MTR system being down tonight.)  And you know that the shooting of a live round into yet another schoolboy by a policeman tonight definitely is going to cause more blood to boil and flow beyond midnight and probably also well past the weekend. :(  

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Mourning, not celebrating, on the 70th anniversary of Communist China's coming into being

Riot police literally looking down -- and, I'm sure, figuratively 
too -- at protesters marching below past their perch

 What a whole lot of Hong Kongers believe

Celebrate China's National Day?  The mood's more along
the lines of Celebrate your mother in Hong Kong!

For a number of years now, the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF) has been organizing protest marches on July 1st and October 1st.  Known for its ability to attract a large number of participants for its protest events, it also has a deserved reputation for organizing events favored by non-violent protesters.  Despite all this, the Hong Kong police refused to grant the CHRF a Letter of No Objection for the protest march it had planned for the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the People's Republic of China.  

But if the local constabulary thought that this meant that no major protests would be taking place on what's looked upon as a day of mourning -- not celebration -- for many Hong Kongers, they were proved wrong many times over once again.  For one thing, a quartet of pro-democracy activists stepped forward to organize an October 1st march whose route closely followed that proposed by the CHRF -- and decided that they would not bother to apply for a Letter of No Objection from the police for it.  In addition, in anticipation of the police rejecting the CHRF's proposal for October 1st, "National Calamity Day" protests were scheduled to take place in six other locales in Hong Kong.    

Although the authorities did their best to scare people into not turning out and making it difficult for them to get to protest locations, tens -- if not hundreds -- of thousands of people showed up at the appointed times and places this afternoon to show that they were not in a celebratory mood this October 1st.  The march from Causeway Bay to Central along the route traditionally opted for by the CHRF attracted the largest number of participants.  It also appeared to be the most peaceful of today's protests, with its offical conclusion having been announced by the organizers before things took a violent turn on Hong Kong Island in the manner of earlier developments elsewhere, including Wong Tai Sin, Tuen Mun, Tsuen Wan and Sha Tin.      

Lest it not be apparent that a large part of the violence emanates from the police rather than protesters: the headline news out of Hong Kong today is that a schoolboy protester had live rounds shot into his chest by a cop in Tsuen Wan this afternoon.  Ironically, just last week, Chief Executive In Name Only -- who wasn't even in Hong Kong today -- Carrie Lam took it upon herself to declare that it's remarkable that no one had died yet in this summer's protests (though, of course, she was not taking into account the protester suicides that have taken place).  But the way the police are carrying on, it really is seeming more inevitable by the day and week that there will be protester deaths on their hands (soon), if there hasn't been already.

Actually, considering that the live rounds that lodged themselves into the Tsuen Wan schoolboy were not the only ones fired this afternoon, it truly is a miracle that no one was killed by the police today.  Just a few days ago, I was lamenting to a friend that, whereas prior to this summer, my main worry when protesting was that I'd be pepper sprayed and beaten with batons by the police, now I worried that I'd get tear gassed when walking about in Hong Kong as well as during an actual protest.  After today though, the potential for greater harm wreaked by the Hong Kong police has come about as a result the shooting of actual live rounds threatening to be the norm -- like the firing of cannisters of tear gas, rubber bullets and sponge grenades more or lessWhich gives Hong Kongers one more reason to mourn on this anniversary given such great import -- and celebrated -- by Beijing.      

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Staying on message amidst conditions that verge on the schizophrenic

Scene outside one of the exits of 
Wan Chai MTR station this evening

Scene in front of Causeway Bay's 
Times Square this same evening

Look at the two photos at the top of this blog post.  Would you believe it if I told you that they were taken within half an hour of each other and in parts of Hong Kong that, on a normal day, would be just three minutes ride away by MTR from each other?  Throw in the fact that both the mess seen in the top most photo and the colorful paper cranes in the second photo are indeed the work of anti-extradition bill/pro-democracy protesters and it really can make the current situation feel hard to fathom.  

Then there's the high probability that tomorrow, things will go back to "normal" -- or feel "normal" in that it really would be very shocking indeed if there were any violent clashes between protesters and the police on the scale that occured earlier today.  (A note: this is not because, in contrast to today, there are no protests planned tomorrow but that the two that have been the most widely publicized are variants of the peaceful Hong Kong Way.)

With such extremes being experienced regularly this summer, it's actually a wonder that Hong Kongers have not turned schizophrenic.  Instead, people have been remarkably consistent in terms of our messaging of "Five demands; not one less" and will to keep on protesting; this even when the authorities seem not only determined to not listen but also silence those who seek to make their voices heard and resist Chinese authoritarianism -- not only for themselves but for others too.    

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Umbrellas and water at Admiralty on the 5th anniversary of the start of the Umbrella Movement

"I want genuine universal suffrage"; still a valid sentiment
five years after the start of the Umbrella Movement

Old and new protest slogans placed side by side

 Blue spray from a water cannon shot onto Harcourt Road

Five years ago this very day, I happened to be having a meal at Admiralty with a friend when  Harcourt Road was occupied for the very first time.  Upon leaving the restaurant (the much beloved Dan Ryan's which used to be in Pacific Place), we saw that Queensway was empty of vehicular traffic and couldn't resist going and seeing what was happening closer to the Central Government Complex.  

Even so, I actually didn't feel compelled to join in what was then billed as the Occupy Central with Love and Peace protests because it had all sounded rather wishy washy to me.  Rather, like many hundreds of thousands of others, I only decided to take part in what later grew into the Umbrella Movement because of the police having over-reacted to protest actions and firing 87 rounds of tear gas into the crowd at Admiralty later that day.

Although the "occupation" of Admiralty and certain other parts of Hong Kong ended 79 days later, the Umbrella Movement did not die on December 16th, 2014 (despite quite a few people thinking that was the case).  The promise of "We'll be back" really was not just bravado; with pro-democracy protesters returning to the fore and scene with a vengeance this summer -- and you just knew that the fifth anniversary of the beginning of the Umbrella Movement wouldn't pass by quietly.

Earlier this evening, Tamar Park was filled to the brim for a rally to mark that anniversary and also continue with the pro-democracy movement that the extradition bill protests have given added impetus to.  Organized by the Civil Human Rights Front and issued a Letter of No Objection by the police, it got going at 7.15pm and was scheduled to only conclude at 9pm but ended up breaking up early at the request of the police -- who, even before the rally had got going (and I arrived at the area), had already pepper sprayed some people at Admiralty.

For much of the approximately one and a half hours that I was at Admiralty this evening, the scene was largely peaceful -- with people doing such as listening to speakers at the rally (who included Occupy Central's Benny Tai and the Umbrella Movement's Joshua Wong), putting up posters at the location of Hong Kong's original Lennon Wall and nearby areas, and strolling about checking out the creative work of others.  At the same time though, it's true enough that Harcourt Road was "occupied" again fairly early on in the evening with people who wanted to emphasize that the pro-democracy movement is indeed "back" and alive, and that they are not planning to let it die easily and soon.

When gauging the mood about me, I got the sense that the police had not yet learnt the lesson of September 28th, 2014: that their violent over-reaction actually can get far more people onto the streets and out to defy them and the government than actually cow people into staying meek, "neutral" and at home.  And it thus seemed but an inevitability that they would turn their weapons against the protesters: with water (including the now infamous dyed blue -- and mixed with pepper spray -- liquid shot out of water cannons) along with still more tear gas.  

Sadly, what's also par for the course these days -- which actually is different from the Occupy days of 2014 -- is that, after the legal rally's end, and much of the crowd had melted away, like water, the police would go hunting for protesters as far away from Admiralty as Causeway Bay -- and even stop and get onto buses and trams, and ordering their passengers off to be searched for evidence of their having taken part in violent clashes this evening.  Oh, and the cops' transport of choice tonight was, of course, the MTR.

I wonder what would have happened to me if the bus I took home this evening had been stopped by the police and I had been subjected to a search: for at Admiralty this evening, a friend had given me goggles and a mask to better protect myself against the tear gas that I can personally vouch to the police being wont to fire these days even when a protest isn't actually taking place.  Although they have yet to be used by myself, would their presence in my backpack have been taken as evidence of my being a radical protester who resorts to violence in the eyes of the local constabulary? 

Also, while I didn't dress in black today (a color I avoid wearing in the hot Hong Kong summer), I was wearing a t-shirt whose "Umbrella Revolution" design had been screen printed on an "Occupied" road back in late 2014.  And, of course, also in my backpack was an umbrella which may be designated as a weapon by paranoid police officers but really is a "must have" (to protect against the rain, sun and, latterly, over-reacting police officers) for any self-respecting Hong Konger whenever they venture outdoors!  

Friday, September 27, 2019

Standing Up for the Victims of San Uk Ling, and for Hong Kong in general

A lot of people were at Edinburgh Place this evening...

And so too was this statue!

Carrie Lam held a "community dialogue session" at Queen Elizabeth Stadium yesterday evening.  One participant reported that he went into the event with few expectations and came away with just as few new answers.  Indeed, what most people ended up primarily taking away from the event was the sense that the extradition bill/pro-democracy protests really do have a lot of public support/participation as, of the 30 individuals randomly selected to ask questions of Carrie Lam, 24 were identified as "yellow" (i.e., pro-protesters/democracy), 2 as neutral, and 4 as "blue" (i.e., pro-police/government) in various media analyses

Throw in the fact that one of the "blue" questioners -- specifically, the one who had made a point to declare "I am not afraid the police" -- turned out to be a police officer (or, at the very least, a former auxillary police officer) very possibly planted into the "community dialogue session"'s admitted "civilian" crowd of 150 people and: it really emphasizes how widespread is the feeling of discontent that people have with the Hong Kong government; and shows how the government really is resorting to deceit these days.  And when all of this is brought together, small wonder then that people just don't feel that they can trust the Hong Kong government -- to tell the truth, never mind do the right thing.

As it so happened, one of the few "revelations" that Carrie Lam made yesterday evening was her stating that the San Uk Ling Holding Centre is no longer being used by the Hong Kong police to detain protesters.  Given the distrust people have for Hong Kong's Chief Executive In Name Only and the fact that too much police abuse had already occured at that facility close to the Hong Kong-Mainland China border, however, one just knew that this would not stop thousands of people from going to a "Stand Up for the Victims of San Uk Ling" rally at Edinburgh Place this evening that had been announced several days ago.  

A note: the police have denied that any abuses have occurred there.  However, I think it plain who the attendees at tonight rally believe more: that is, those arrested protesters held for a time at San Uk Ling (among them Ventus Lau, who I had last seen sitting at the end point of the Kwun Tong to Kowloon Bay protest march he had organized on August 24th) and such as the lawyer who went there to meet with his client and publicly recounted their experiences there this evening. 

More than incidentally, tonight's well-attended rally marks the beginning of what will be a number of key protest events scheduled to take place over the next few days.  Not all of them have received a Letter of No Objection from the police -- but I doubt that this will deter too many protesters now; this not least since the sense is that the Hong Kong police's banning of protests is part of a strategy of violent suppression as well as a restriction of people's right of assembly (which, lest we forget, actually is supposed to be guaranteed -- along with freedoms of procession, demonstration and speech -- in Article 27 of the Basic Law), and standing up for Hong Kong is something those of us who love Hong Kong actively need to do these days.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

A feeling that autumn is upon us, and that we're currently experiencing the calm before the storm

Golden hour view towards Lamma Island 
from the southern side of Hong Kong Island 
 How calm Hong Kong looked
from this perspective and on this day!
When I woke up this morning, I worried that I had accidentally switched the air-condition one even while having left all the windows in my apartment open overnight.  After realizing that the cool breezes wafting through my bedroom were entirely natural, it further confirmed what I got to feeling around this time last week: that autumn is finally really here -- something that regularly only is the case after the Mid-Autumn Festival has come and gone here in Hong Kong! 
Although the daily maximum temperatures still exceed 30 degrees Celsius, the lowered levels of humidity in the air are super welcome.  Coupled with no more rounds of tear gas having been fired since last Sunday, I'd imagine that has helped to ensure that the air is cleaner -- not just fresher -- than it otherwise might have been.  
All told, the physical conditions have been pretty pleasant -- and I find genuine pleasure in not having sweated up a storm this afternoon despite having spent a good part of it outdoors.  Then there's the bonus of things feeling fairly calm these past few days -- though, as a friend I had lunch and a good  conversation with yesterday, it's rather scary how much is needed to truly upset us these days.
The lack of trust and respect that the majority of Hong Kongers now have for the local constabulary which can no longer can be relied upon to protect innocent people as well as are more likely to cause trouble than keep the peace can be seen in nearly 90 percent of some 138,000 respondents to a recent online poll having given the Hong Kong police the lowest rating possible of the options provided: specifically, 0 on a scale of 0 to 10.  And it follows from that there now are calls for the demand for an independent inquiry into police brutality (that's part of the five demands) being escalated into a demanding for the disbanding of the Hong Kong police force.

With this kind and amount of bad feelings in the air, the sense one gets is that this relative calm is not going to last for long; and this particularly so since this Friday will mark the fifth anniversary of the start of the Umbrella Movement and the dreaded 70th anniversary of the founding of the "People's Republic of China" is less than a week away.  But even while there is a definite feeling that it's all currently just the calm -- however restrained -- before the storm, those of us living in Hong Kong are endeavoring to make hay while the sun shines and enjoy what peace we are able to experience while we can -- because, well, that's become our way far more quickly than we may actually have truly realized!

Monday, September 23, 2019

An all-too-brief Peng Chau respite on another protest-filled day (Photo-essay)

A friend of mine who lives on Peng Chau invited me over to the Hong Kong Outlying Island for a visit yesterday afternoon.  I thought of abandoning my trip when, on my way to catch a ferry over from one of the Central Ferry Piers, I had to pass by as many as 50 riot police inside the MTR station closest to it.  I'm glad I didn't do so because things turned out to be considerably more relaxed and laid-back just a 25 minute ferry ride away and I had a pleasurable good few hours on the island shooting the breeze with friends, drinking, eating, enjoying the sunset from a rooftop, and taking in the fresh air that had a hint of fall to it.

Then I got home, switched on the computer, checked the news and found that there had been more clashes between the police and protesters at Sha Tin, Mongkok, Kwai Fong, Sham Shui Po, West Kowloon, Tuen Moon and elsewhere -- some of which that would result in more tear gas buffets before the day drew to a close.  Suddenly, my brief Peng Chau sojourn felt like it had taken place in another world along with time; so much so that I feel a need to offer up photographic evidence in this post to show how different that part of Hong Kong looked and seemed from those that largely make the news these days, locally and far beyond... 

View from a pedestrian bridge by the side of the IFC of the 
main entrance to the Airport Express section of Hong Kong
Station (complete with multiple police vans parked by its side)

Advance warning: the ferry ride there can be rather bumpy...!

But 25 minutes, you can calm down by viewing serene sights
like this while standing on undisputably solid ground ;b

Not most people's idea of how Hong Kong looks
this summer -- or any other time, actually!

The very top section of Peng Chau's Tin Hau Temple
(which has had a revamp since I first took a photo of it!)

I didn't see a Lennon Wall on Peng Chau
but I did find an Abbey Road (sign) there... ;)

View of the sunset from a Peng Chau rooftop

 Quite the splendid view to be had from my friend's 
beloved Peng Chau home