Saturday, August 31, 2019

A day which saw the Hong Kong police reputation sink still further, and Hong Kong protesters show that they remain unbowed

"A New Level of Peak Living Awaits" even while Hong Kongers
seek a Free Hong Kong, possibly with "Revolution Now" if the 
"Mother of Violence" does not accede to protesters' five demands 
 
One more weekend with closed MTR stations
 
It's late in the day but bands of protesters and police are continuing to play a cat and mouse game that has seen various groups moving around different parts of Hong Kong on both side of Victoria Harbour for much of the day.  Like with last Saturday, the protests began peacefully -- this even though, unlike the past weekend's, they were not sanctioned by the police -- and but even before night fell, protesters and police clashed: first at Admiralty, a prime protest site on account of the Central Government Complex being located there; and then moving on to a bunch of other locales, including Causeway Bay, Tsim Sha Tsui and Mongkok (all three of them prime shopping areas and which, along with Admiralty, were "Occupied" for a time in 2014).   

In a further escalation of police violence, water cannons -- including that which emited blue dye along with plain water -- were employed at Admiralty today in addition to the now usual tear gas.  Petrol bombs were also thrown at the police, and fires lit on streets in Causeway Bay, Wan Chai and elsewhere -- but even as people looked askance at all this, what has shocked many even more is that at least one of the "protesters" throwing petrol bombs appears to have been an undercover cop; one of many deployed yet again in circumstances that are controversial, to say the least.

The way many people see it, the deployment of undercover police dressed up like protesters shows the Hong Kong police playing a dangerous game.  For one thing, it sows suspicion that many of the more radical and violent acts ascribed to protesters may well have been instigated or even enacted by "black" undercover cops trying to escalate matters and pin blame on protesters.  For another, undercover cops are liable to panic after their cover is blown and do such as proceed to fire a live round to protect themselves -- like what actually happened earlier today.   

Frankly, it's not like the reputation of the police force that most emphatically no longer is regarded as Asia's finest is already in tatters and is going to take a miracle to salvage.  Further examples of ultra questionable conduct on their part today include their deciding to strip-search four women out on the street in Causeway Bay this evening.  That this happened just three days after a rally against police sexual violence attracted some 30,000 people represtents a real "up yours" to Hong Kongers and the #MeToo movement in general.           

By a similar token, the fact that thousands of people turned up to protest today -- despite the campaign of "white terror" currently being waged that has seen planned protests being banned, and pro-democracy activists and politicians slapped with charges from seemingly out of blue and arrested -- surely represents a mega show of defiance against the Hong Kong government and Beijing.  To be sure, I definitely would have preferred that the protests had been peaceful. 
 
But I still will applaud all those who came out to show their continued commitment to the cause and willingness to fight for the Hong Kong they want: one where, among other things, the police are not political tools that act like a branch of China's public security machinery, and Hong Kongers' rights to freedom of assembly, movement, speech and expression are truly guaranteed once more.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Hong Kong's struggle for freedom (from fear, etc.) is very real!

Spotted while biking across a bridge over 
the Lam Tsuen River in Tai Po in happier times

The following happened here in Hong Kong within a period of 30 hours or so from yesterday into today:-
 - Civic Human Rights Front convenor Jimmy Sham was attacked by two masked men wielding a metal rod and baseball bat respectively while having lunch with a friend in Jordan (Jimmy Sham escaped unharmed; his friend has been hospitalized); 
- Max Chung, the organizer of the July 27th anti-triad protests in Yuen Long, was attacked by a group of men while giving an interview on the banks of the Lam Tsuen River in Tai Po;
- The leader of the banned (and miniscule prior to its banning) Hong Kong Independence Party, Andy Chan Ho-tin, was detained at the airport by the police

- Confirmation was received that the Civic Human Rights Front's proposed rally and march tomorrow --  the fifth anniversary of Beijing announcing an electoral reform package that fell short of the genuine universal suffrage promised in the Basic Law (constitution) of Hong Kong-- has been banned (even after an appeal);  
- Joshua Wong, one of the major figures of the Umbrella Movement, was pushed into a private car while walking to South Horizons MTR station. It turns out that the people who did so were police officers as it's subsequently been revealed that he's been arrested;
- His fellow Demosisto party leader, Agnes Chow, was arrested at her home in Tai Po;

- Civic Passion chair and legislative councilor Cheng Chung-tai was also included among the arrestees caught in today's round-up; as was 
- Former University of Hong Kong student union president, Althea Suen, who was charged in relation to the storming of the Legislative Council Complex on the night of July 1st!

This series of violent and legal intimidations -- or, as Hong Kongers have come to label it: white terror -- one day ahead of yet another planned mega protest -- which I can still see happening despite the Civil Human Rights Front having officially announced the cancellation of the rally and march they had been planning for weeks -- is the kind of thing that is making some Hong Kongers fearful about the future of Hong Kong (and others just plain angrier) far more than the existential threat of the People's Liberation Army (PLA)  intrusion into Hong Kong affairs. And what really upsets me time and time again about this veritable "death of a thousand cuts" is that it shows that there are Hong Kong bodies and hands that are willing to go about doing Beijing's dirty work.

One of the best things about the Hong Kong for me, for a long time now, is its freedom from fear -- political (with its people having (supposedly) guaranteed freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, etc.) and also on a personal safety level.  So the idea that people can get attacked while having lunch or walking along a river is as, if not more, upsetting to me than the police coming and arresting people when they're waiting to board a plane, walking to an MTR station or while at home.  And yes, all the people I mentioned that this happened to in the past, shocking 30 hours to are known political activists. But how many people in Hong Kong haven't become politically active in some way or other these days? (And if you haven't yet, what will it take before you become so?!) 

Update: And now has come news of two other pro-democracy lawmakers, Jeremy Tam and Au Nok Hin, having been arrested too!  Honestly, this smells of desperation on the part of Beijing (and its Hong Kong puppet administration) -- to find heads to cut off from a leader-less protest movement -- as well as unjust repression!

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Protesters' demands increase while keeping their eyes on the prize

to Beijing making their thoughts known at Pacific Place mall

Participants at this afternoon's protest marching past 
a poster advertising this evening's protest!
 
 
 
What's not in dispute though is that the anti-extradition bill protests (which have morphed into quite a bit more seemingly with each passing week) have now lasted longer than the Occupy phase of the Umbrella Movement; this particularly so when it's remembered that there were protest marches against the extradition bill back in March and April.  Also, there really should be little doubt that this summer's protests are continuing to go strong; with today's goings-on providing positive proof of this.

Firstly, this afternoon saw a rally organized by trade unions to protest against the termination of civil aviation staffers for political reasons and to support their freedom of speech, particularly those working for Cathay Pacific (and its subsidiaries) that culminated in a march from Edinburgh Place in Central to the Pacific Place mall in Admiralty that is owned and operated by Swire (which also owns and operates Cathay Pacific), where people proceeded to stick post-it notes with handwritten messages along with posters made for the event.  
 
Many, if not all, of those who took part in this particularly protest -- which is the result of Cathay Pacific heads bowing to pressure from Beijing to curb its staff from taking part in the Hong Kong protests, including by firing those who do so -- then went on to take part in another protest taking place this evening in another Central location.
 
Like the earlier rally, this one held in Chater Garden tonight stemmed from actions which have occured over the course of this Hong Kong summer of protests: in this case, sexual assaults by police against protesters (male as well as female). Attracting even more people to the same venue than the Stand with Hong Kong rally on August 14th, which saw participants spill into nearby streets and neighboring spaces, this one can be seen as part of the worldwide #MeToo movement -- but also is quite distinct in, among other things, this evening protesters including a good amount of men as well as women.
 
Still, even while these two different protest rallies had different main foci, many of the same, familiar chants could be heard at both these events.  "Hong Kong yan, ga yau" (Hong Kongers, add oil.)  "Gwong fuk heung gong, si doi gak ming" (Liberate Hong Kong, the revolution of our times).  "Stand for Hong Kong; fight for democracy" (this in English).  And -- to affirm that they are indeed part of the protest movement that first came to the attention of many people on June 9th -- "five demands; not one less."        

Monday, August 26, 2019

The insanity as well as seeming inevitability of protester-police clashes in Hong Kong

A Lennon Wall in a corner of Kwun Tong (which, 
years ago, I was told was a pro-Beijing stronghold) 

Another sign of resistance -- this one 
spray painted onto a road in North Point

With at least one live round having been fired from a police officer's gun along with the introduction of water cannons to the range of weapons that the police have now used on protesters continuing to seek the withdrawal of the extradition bill among their five stated demands, yesterday saw the further escalation of violence in this long and hot summer of protest in Hong Kong.  Like on Saturday, the protests actually began with a permitted protest march -- albeit this time around, from Kwai Fong to Tsuen Wan.  But, as with Saturday's protests, clashes ended up taking place between protesters and the police well into the night. 

Among the things that have upset me (and many other like-minded Hong Kongers) is that the clashes have become almost too inevitable -- which is why the previous peaceful -- even while protest-filled -- weekend had been so very much welcome.  As the weeks of protest have gone by, it seems that some protesters have taken to trying to pre-emptively protect their fellows from police assault and arrest by blocking roads and such near a march routes.  And while the police's reactions have often been officially explained as their seeking to clear the roads and associated protest areas, it's often looking more like they are more intent on sowing panic and arresting protesters than actually effecting effective crowd dispersal.  

Author Kong Tsung-gan has been keeping a tally of protesters on the days of the major protests this summer -- and it's currently at 575 since June 9th.  Among the 29 people arrested on Saturday was march organizer Ventus Lau -- who was moving supplies (such as loudspeakers and banners) off the march route along with his team when he was apprehended by the police!  And among the 36 people arrested yesterday was a 12-year-old boy -- a sure sign of how crazy things have become here along with how widespread the protests now are. 

Further evidence of how nuts it all can be is that, along with molotov cocktails being thrown at the police to try to slow down their pursuit of protesters, rubber ducks were also hurled at the cops yesterday.  I'm guessing that those rubber ducks (which also had made their appearance in Yuen Long on August 21st) were used to symbolically show protesters' awareness of how disproportionate in strength are the weaponry they have at their disposal vis a vis the police.  

At the same time though, it's quite amazing how unlikely are some of the equipment that have been effectively used to deal with tear gas fired here in Hong Kong.  Outgunned the protesters may be but out-witted they are not.  (Hence, among other things, their not falling into a trap yesterday as I had feared they would be -- especially after news came of the MTR once more having closed stations near the march route hours before its start.)

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Before the tear gas began flying again at Kowloon Bay yesterday afternoon... (Photo-essay)

As I write this blog post, thousands of protesters are taking part in a march from Kwai Fong to Tsuen Wan.  Despite my wanting the government to officially withdraw the extradition bill whose proposal has led to so much protest and trouble in Hong Kong, I haven't joined them -- in large part for fear that the police are setting up a trap for protesters there despite today's protest march actually being issued a letter of no objection by them

One reason for my suspicion is that, like for yesterday's Kwun Tong to Kowloon Bay protest march (which also had a "Letter of No Objection" from the police), the MTR has made it difficult for march participants to get to the official start point as well as to leave the march by stopping service to area stations. Worse was the discovery later on that the closed-off sections of the Kwun Tong line were actually being used by the police -- thus giving a lie to the MTR's official stated reason that it was closed off for the safety of the public and its staff.

Despite the MTR's actions yesterday, I -- along with many thousands of other people -- still managed to get to the march -- whose demands are the same as the Hong Kong Way's and scores of other protests that have taken place this summer in Hong Kong.  And like the vast majority of protests I've taken part in this summer, they were peaceful when I was there; with protesters and police not clashing (and tear gas being fired after eight blessedly tear-gas less days in Hong Kong, etc.) yesterday until after I and many thousands of others had peacefully completed the march and were miles away from the area...

It's bad enough that the MTR closed five of their stations yesterday
but that they did so with not much advance notice :(

Some of the Kwun Tong streets that were part of yesterday's
protest march route were on the narrow side -- or felt that way
when so many protesters were making their way along them! 
 
 Water and masks (among other things, it was a super hot
and high air pollution day) freely available to march participants
 
Peacefully marching past the old Kowloon Flour Mills (where, 
 
That distinctively Hong Kong combination of
 
 Trouble beckoned when the march neared a police station
and a cordon of cops blocking off the road
 
Most of us at yesterday's march gave the police and 
their station a wide berth, but to no avail... :(
 
Like with the closest MTR station to the march start, the closest MTR 
station to the march terminus was closed -- with this one having a sign 
on it that said, "I thought [the] police were supposed to protect us" :(

Friday, August 23, 2019

The Hong Kong Way of protest

Just a very small part of the very long chains formed 
by participants of the Hong Kong Way this evening

 Thank you, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia,
for inspiring us with your Baltic Way of 1989



Some 75 days on, the protests clearly still have the support of a good percentage of Hong Kongers; as can be seen by enough people turning out to clog miles and miles of streets as well as Victoria Park on a stormy afternoon last Sunday and what must be tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people turning up in -- and from -- various parts of the territory to take part in the Hong Kong Way this evening.  Furthermore, a good number of people passing by my section of the Hong Kong Way this evening -- be it in trams, buses, taxis or private cars, or on motorbikes, bicycles or foot -- were showing their support by doing such as vocally shouting out their encouragement, tooting their vehicles' horns and, in the case of a bus driver, putting up "Eye4HK" messages where one usually sees route information being indicated on his vehicle.

One might be moved to wonder why those people didn't actually take part in this protest even though they support it.  Sadly, fear clearly is a factor; what with Beijing pressuring many companies to toe the line, including by firing employees who take part in protests, even those that are legal and Beijing-backed -- not just pro-Beijing -- thugs targeting protesters (but often ending up indiscriminately attacking people in the area).  Indeed, it was quite noticeable this evening that a number of passengers on passing buses and trams sought to show their support of the Hong Kong Way in ways that wouldn't draw too much attention from the other passengers seated near them.

In contrast, the one bus passenger who decided to show his opposition to the protest by flipping us the bird did so very openly as well as rudely -- though he wasn't brave enough to accept our suggestion that he come down from his perch on the upper deck and off the bus into our midst!  And for the record: a convoy of taxis with big China flags sticking from them also drove by us; many of them empty of passengers and, strangely, with their "For hire" signs still on!

Rather than dampen our spirits though, the sight of those taxis actually got Hong Kong protesters displaying our distinctive sense of humor once more since they got greeted by shouts -- in English -- of "Free China"!  And to put things in context: over the course of the two hours that this event took place, taxis also did drive by whose drivers showed their support of the protesters by honking their horns in a particular pattern that we've come to recognize and giving the thumbs up signal.

In a bid to (further) raise international awareness of this protest movement that's now also calling for genuine universal suffrage for Hong Kong, there were orchestrated shouts of English of "Free Hong Kong" and "Democracy now" (along with other chants in Cantonese, the most popular on the night of which was "Hong Kong yan, ga yau!").  There also were attempts to get people to belt out the original English version of Do You Hear the People Sing? (rather than the Cantonese one).  Still, it has to be said that people seemed far more comfortable singing another song that's come to be associated with Hong Kong pro-democracy protests: Beyond's Boundless Oceans, Vast Skies; a beautiful English version of which exists, courtesy of a Brazilian man! :)

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Focus on Yuen Long once more on the one month anniversary of the horrific mob attack at Yuen Long MTR station

View from Sai Wan Ho's Lennon Wall (or should it be 
stairwell as it covers so much more than just a single wall?)

One of many thought-provoking posters
to be found there

One month ago tonight, a mob armed with bamboo canes and sticks attacked passengers at Yuen Long MTR station (and folks in nearby areas).  One of the most shocking series of events of this turbulent summer was made even more horrifying by damning evidence (including on video) that the police not only did not promptly go to the rescue of the victims but actually colluded with the thugs responsible for inflicting much violence that night and shocking much of Hong Kong to its very core

This evening, a sit-in was held at Yuen Long MTR station to mark the one month anniversary of that savagery and also protest the fact that although 28 people have been arrested in connection with what happened in Yuen Long on July 21st, it's all just been only for unlawful assembly (rather than on more serious charges) -- and that not a single individual has yet to appear in court, never mind be found guilty of having actually committed a crime.  Much as I wish it wasn't the case, it seemed all too inevitable that a standoff would end up taking place between the police and protesters -- and for much of the time that I was writing this blog post, that was indeed what had been happening over there, just like it did on July 27th, when defiant people went to Yuen Long to protest against the thug attacks and police collusion of the previous week.


Coming on the same day as the news of an attack on three individuals having taken place at the site of the Lennon Wall in Tseung Kwan O in the early hours of Tuesday morning and reports belatedly surfacing of a British consulate staffer having gone missing on August 9th at the Mainland China-controlled immigration checkpoint of the West Kowloon terminus of the cross-border express train, this put Hong Kongers back on edge.  And when it came to light today that the Hong Kong police have access to closed-circuit television (CCTV) live streams from MTR station (and thus could see in real time what was happening in Yuen Long MTR station on the night of July 21st), let's just say that it's a miracle that actual clashes did not ensue at that locale this evening.  

Instead, what we ended up having at the scene were rubber ducks floating on a floor made wet and slippery to slow down the anticipated police pursuit of protesters intent on catching the train out of there so that they can live and be free to fight another day (or night).  Because, make no mistake, the protesters are not going away -- with a number of quite diverse protest events being planned to take place in just the next few days alone!   

Monday, August 19, 2019

Vignettes from yesterday's mega protest in Hong Kong

Walking along undaunted, complete with balloon eye
70 days on from the mega protest march that 
 
 Holding firm amidst the deluge, confident that the
storm would soon blow over and calm skies return
 
I had agreed to meet with a bunch of friends at 2.15pm outside Tin Hau MTR station to get into Victoria Park for the extradition bill-themed protest rally that would officially get going there at 3pm yesterday. With trains bypassing the station from time to time (because the station had become super crowded with people intent to on getting to the same destination) though, more than half of the group ended up getting there late -- with one friend telling us that the closest she figured she would be able to make it to was Causeway Bay, over on the other side of the park.
 
As the minutes ticked by and it got close to 3pm, those of us at Tin Hau realized that the lines to get into Victoria Park had stretched past where we were standing and the crowd was overflowing into the nearby streets.  Rather than stay put and risk being squashed by others, we decided to go with the flow and join the crowd -- partly in search of a more accessible entry point into the park and also with a vague idea of meeting up with the one friend over in Causeway Bay.

Shortly after we made our move, the heavens opened and we had the kind of downpour that we joked had far more water pouring heavily onto us than the police's new water cannons would ever be able to  While a few people elected to make for cover, most people already on the road stood resolute in the storm -- with pretty much everyone equipped with umbrellas to shelter under.

While standing on the road and under my umbrella for what seemed like an eternity, I looked to my left and caught sight of a plastic-covered baby stroller belonging to a family who had decided to bring at least one child along with them to the protest -- a decision that I wager is far less uncommon in Hong Kong than most other parts of the world.  Also spotted nearby braving the storm was a woman in a wheelchair holding an umbrella for the man wheeling her. 

I'm not going to lie: The sight of those fellow protesters made me choke up. And tears are coming out of my eyes again as I write this.  So here's throwing out a couple of lighter observations from yesterday.  Firstly, there sure were a lot of kawaii umbrellas at yesterday's protests -- with the visages of Totoro, Hello Kitty, Kumamon, Doraemon and Winnie the Pooh among my spottings.  

Secondly, I must confess to finding a Twitter thread of protest anecdotes started in the wake of yesterday's peaceful, feel good mega protest to be charming as well amusing.  And it really is so very Hong Kong to learn about the middle-aged protester who was overheard telling the woman next to him (who chances are pretty high was his wife): "This is the most radical I have ever been in my life. I am marching on a road"! :)    

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Proof many times over that the current Hong Kong protest movement still has plenty of willing participants

Something I saw for the first time ever today: Electric Road
in Tin Hau closed off to traffic ahead of a protest in Victoria Park

A good part of today's protest took place in rainy conditions

 Even after today's protests officially drew to a close at 9.15pm,
there were still people in Victoria Park -- including those intent 

Earlier this week, a Hong Konger friend of mine -- who has a number of pro-police (though not necessarily, pro-Beijing, she pointed out) family members -- asked me if I thought that the current protest movement would die out in view of what had happened on Tuesday at Hong Kong International Airport.  I opined that this might have been so if those who had been there had not expressed remorse but the fact that an apology had been issued had helped matters and this especially after it was accompanied by self-reflection and the heeding of calls for more moderate ways of protesting to be attempted once more.

In any case, I figured that we would find out before the end of the week how much support the protests -- which have morphed from a single issue anti-extradition bill protest to a multi-issue one with five official demands -- (still) have since a number of protests were planned for this weekend beginning on Friday evening, with the "Stand with Hong Kong; Power to the People" rally in Chater Garden that had so many participants that some of them ended up temporarily "occupying" neighboring roads.  

One day later, a teachers' demonstration against the anti-extradition bill in the morning attracted a larger crowd than expected despite thunderstorms and heavy rain while a protest march that went from To Kwa Wan to Hung Hom and beyond also attracted thousands despite bad weather; prompting writer Louisa Lim to Tweet a photo of a veritable sea of protesters, accompanied by the words "Whoever thought the government could just wait this out and sentiment would die down might want to reconsider that strategy"!

And then came today.  A pro-democracy rally organized by the Civil Human Rights Front attracted far more participants than could get into Victoria Park, with the result that many people never made it into the official event venue and, instead, ended up flowing onto and along nearby roads and streets as far east as North Point and as far west as Sheung Wan!  Some will dispute the organizer estimate of the crowd size hitting 1.7 million (including the police, whose estimated numbers are a far lower 128,000 at the peak of the rally) but I personally can vouch for the lines to get into Victoria Park stretching as far west as Wan Chai some four hours after the official start time of the event!

What makes the size of today's protest all the more amazing is that: for one thing, it took place some 70 days after the anti-extradition bill protest march organized by the same organization on June 9th which attracted some one million participants; and for another, a good part of today's protests took place in pouring rain!  Even more remarkable for many may well be that this weekend will be the first in weeks to be tear gas free -- though as quite a few protesters could be heard joking today, it undoubtedly helped that all the rain this weekend made it so that the police couldn't use tear gas on people even if they had wanted to! ;(

Friday, August 16, 2019

Stand with Hong Kong; Power to the People -- Let Hong Kong Rule Itself?

 
So too was the adjacent Chater Road...
 
 So was Jackson Road and the area around the Cenotaph (though 
most people did make a point to stay off the surrounding green)
 
I went once more to Chater Garden for a protest rally this evening. The Stand With Hong Kong; Power to the People was co-organized by university students and "Stand with Hong Kong Task Force" as the Hong Kong leg of a series of 28 events scheduled to take place over this weekend in different parts of the world (including Melbourne and Adelaide, where pro-China counter-protesters turned up and made themselves look pretty ugly).
 
I have to be honest: I actually wasn't planning to attend the rally until I read that it didn't appear to be attracting the crowds that previous protest rallies at Chater Garden had done.  (One reason is that it's not the only anti-extradition bill protest event taking place over the next few days by a long chalk.)  But after making a last minute decision to lend a body to the cause this evening, I actually found not only Chater Garden packed to the brim when I got there but a good part of the surrounding area too, with the protest crowd having spilled onto nearby Chater Road, Jackson Road and more!
 
After this past Tuesday's airport mishaps, there was talk that the current protest movement had lost steam.  Judging from the attendance at tonight's rally (which the organizers estimated to have topped up at 60,000), I'm thinking not.  Also, it really does seem to be the case that whenever protester fatigue threatens, something or other will happen that gets people angry and/or reminds them of the current, imperative need to stand up for Hong Kong once more!
 

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Verbal shots fired on a day without street protests in Hong Kong

 
 Messages on one of many Lennon Walls that have 
sprung up in Hong Kong in recent weeks

The following is effectively just a long form version of a Xinqi Su Tweet from today which summarizes some of the more notable events that have taken place in Hong Kong today:-

1) At 2pm, there was yet another "Citizens' Press Conference", during which anti-extradition bill protest representatives said they would reflect on their actions and look for ways to improve in the wake of the airport misteps of Tuesday, reiterated their rejection of the Hong Kong government's claims that the protests are to blame for a slowdown of the economy, and once again called for the government to respond to their five demands in order to end the unrest, including withdrawing the now-suspended extradition bill and setting up an independent inquiry to look into alleged police brutality over the course of the extradition bill protests;

2) At 4pm, Hong Kong Police Force representatives held a press conference, during which they announced that 748 anti-extradition bill protesters have been arrested since June 9th (the day of the first mega anti-extradition bill protest march);

3) At 5pm, the Hong Kong Government announced at their press conference that nearly HK$19 billion sweetenerswill be dished out to the public in what they described as relief measures but many see as an attempt to bribe people into stopping their protest action against the extradition bill and such; and

4) This evening, long-established pro-democracy protest platform cum organizer, the Civil Human Rights Front -- which, among other things, organized the peaceful anti-extradition bill June 16th mega protest march -- announced that their planned protest march for this Sunday has been disallowed by the police, with only a rally in Victoria Park being allowed.  (This after Civil Human Rights Front convenor Jimmy Sham had specifically called for a peaceful protest march just a few days ago.)

Oh... and earlier today, Occupy co-founder Benny Tai was released on bail after serving three months of a 16 month sentence that he's appealing; after which he spoke of having been moved by the sacrifices made by many Hong Kongers to defend Hong Kong's core values, and his belief that "the golden era of Hong Kong is yet to come"!  (Caveat emptor: I'm not a big fan of his but I figure the more pro-democracy people out free in Hong Kong, the better!)

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Political talk and protest action in Hong Kong

Clouds, not tear gas, over Hong Kong around sunset today

 A time and place to peacefully admire the sunset

A few minutes before I started writing this blog, the trigger-happy Hong Kong police fired still more tear gas at a relatively peaceful group of protesters in Sham Shui Po -- a district of Kowloon I like to go to for traditional Cantonese fare and retail therapy.  Until I got the news that they did so, I was thinking that today would be a time for people in Hong Kong to take a breather and time to reflect on what had happened yesterday, in particular last night, when the wheels threatened to come off the protest wagon after a series of ill-judged missteps at Hong Kong International Airport (for which representatives of the people responsible have apologized). 

At some point today, I went shopping (for groceries and pharmaceutical goods) in North Point, where thugs had attacked protesters (but then been repelled) on August 5th and other people (including two journalists) this past Sunday, and was happy to see that things looked to have returned to normal in the area (whose Chun Yeung Street wet market is one of my favorites in Hong Kong).  In a similar vein, things were peaceful enough this evening in Causeway Bay, where the police fired tear gas on August 4th, and where I met up with a friend for drinks and a meal (and also enjoyed sunset views from the edge of the Causeway Bay Typhoon Shelter while walking over to meet her).

During dinner, my friend and I talked about a variety of subjects that -- inevitably these days -- included what's been going on protest-wise and in the world of Hong Kong politics (which, today, included beleagured Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam firing her PR chief and Cathay Pacific sacking two of their pilots over Hong Kong protest-related incidents).  Politics was discussed quite a bit too when another friend and I met up for lunch yesterday.  Indeed, I don't think I've been able to have a single extended conversation with any of my friends in the past couple of months that have not ended up touching at some point on the protests and tumult that have been gripping Hong Kong for some time now.   

Not so long ago, I heard many people opine that Hong Kongers didn't care about politics, only making money.  I must admit to having been skeptical about this even then.  For one thing, money and politics are often intertwined to my mind.  For another, so many of the Hong Kong movies I've viewed over the years have had political undertones, if not outright political messages and commentary.  

My favorite movie in the whole, wide world, Peking Opera Blues, may be seen by some as primarily an action-(adventure-)comedy but it's always come across as more dramatic and full of political messsages to me.  In addition, there are the scores of films over which the events of June 4th, 1989, cast a long shadow, including those cinematic works made in the years leading up to July 1st, 1997, and even after it which expressed fears about the Handover and what would ensue thereafter.  And don't tell me that all those films set during the Second World War and even those works in which Chinese patriots are depicted rebelling against -- or just plain resisting the rule of -- the imperial Qing government aren't political because they're just martial arts movies!

Hopefully at some point in the near future, I'll be in the mood to view movies again.  Alas, at this point, there's been too much drama in real life -- and so much of it so surreal and close to unbelievable that if I viewed it in a movie, I'd dismiss it as not realistic! -- that I've just not been inclined to have escapist fun in watching a story unfold on a big screen in a darkened room.  Instead, I want to stay attuned to what's currently happening in Hong Kong, and also play a part in it as I truly believe that the fight is far from over and that our cause is a just one indeed.