Thursday, October 31, 2019

Police state nightmare this Halloween in Hong Kong

As per usual Halloween behavior, people went out 
in public this evening with funny masks on

Others took the opportunity to hand out sweet treats

 
The MTR announced late last night that Prince Edward MTR station would close at 2pm today and Central MTR station at 9pm.  The early closure of Prince Edward MTR station came on the two-month anniversary of the police attacks there which many people believe resulted in the deaths of a number of individualsThe early closure of Central MTR station was due to fears that yet another protest march -- this one featuring people wearing masks usually reserved for Halloween that now could get them arrested, under the conditions of the emergency ban against facial covering enacted earlier this month -- would end up seeing protesters gate-crashing festivities at its scheduled end-point of Lan Kwai Fong.

All too predictably, however, it was the local constabulary who proved to be the real horror tonight.  Before meeting up with a friend to go on a stroll through town this evening, I already had got news of the police having fired tear gas at Prince Edward.  But while we did ourselves come across a heavy riot police presence on the Causeway Bay side of Victoria Park, it wasn't heavy enough to deter those assembled there to enjoy an evening outing -- be it involving shopping, dining, movie-going (since, lest we forget, Causeway Bay is home to lots of shops, restaurants and cinemas) or protesting.  

Upon pressing on further westwards with a bunch of people wearing masks but walking on the sidewalk rather than the road, we were happy to see the protest crowd increase even while the police presence in the area decrease.  And even while there once again were riot police standing on the pedestrian bridges that border Wan Chai and Admiralty (and are uncomfortably close to the Police Headquarters at Wan Chai), their pose was on the relaxed side and they also did not have their gas masks on.   

Walking through Admiralty, there once again were few police officers in (plain) sight.  Still, I must admit to not feeling completely relaxed; this even while being entertained along the way by spotting a number of interesting masks and costumes being worn, people handing out sweet treats to their fellow protesters and by an elderly man playing Glory to Hong Kong on loop on a portable machine that he periodically held aloft.  For I had a feeling we would encounter a heavy police presence in Central.  And so it proved. 

Shortly after passing the Court of Final Appeal, word came not only of there being lots of riot police in front of the Marks and Spencer store on Queen's Road Central but that a blue flag had been raised there.  In addition, we found the way to Lan Kwai Fong barred by a horrific amount of riot police who looked to have decided that the area with a reputation for being Hong Kong's Party Central was now barred to everyone, be they protesters or revellers!  

Figuring that we wouldn't be able to go get a drink in Lan Kwai Fong this evening (like we had planned to do), my friend and I decided to call it a night and head home.  As it so happened, shortly after we did so, the police decided in their wisdom to pepper spray and tear gas people in Central.  And, predictably, as was the case at Prince Edward and adjacent Mongkok this evening, some of the victims of disproportionate police force were not protesters at all

While I can imagine some bar and restaurant owners blaming the protesters for Halloween this year proving to be a commercial disaster for them, I have a feeling that the police are the ones who made even more enemies tonight with actions like this and this.  And while all this may not be on the scale of the horror that ensued at Tuen Mun last night, this put paid to the conceit some people had that a crowd in Central would be safe from police brutality in a Hong Kong that now is far closer to being a police state than many people could have imagined just mere months ago. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Another 48 hours of insanity and injustice

Is anything sacred anymore in Hong Kong?

Is this the kind of crowd that looks to you 
like they need to be dispersed using tear gas?

After yet another tear-gas filled Sunday (which saw police over-reaction to the kind of altercation that would be described as "handbags" level by certain Brits, including football commentators that I learnt this slang from, result in 10 hours of unrest), I was hoping that the next day would pass peacefully.  Not counting some shenanigans at the daily police press conference, I was thinking I had got my wish until night fell; after which, in one of those turn of events that really sounds utterly ridiculous, the police unleashed more tear gas in Tuen Mun against a crowd protesting a suspected tear gas test in the area.

At around the same time as I found out about the previous evening's events in Tuen Mun this morning, I also learnt of news that put me in a cheerier mood.  It may not seem like much in the grand scheme of things but it's still quite lovely to learn of a British university having stripped the odious Junius Ho of an honorary degree on the grounds that he no longer can be viewed as a positive role model.  This all the more so in view of this action appearing to be a big deal to his henchmen along with the man himself.  

Also something that I'd gladly look upon as a "win" for the pro-democracy camp is the High Court having amended an interim junction in such a way as to limit the scope of a police "doxxing" order that had caused significant consternation when it was announced last week.  (Of course, the ideal would be if the police were to behave in a professional manner that would not make people want to "doxx" them -- i.e., not act like judge and jury as well as arresting officer, and in ways that make the public have some sympathy for them -- but, well, that's really would be asking for the moon, sun and stars these days, right?)   

But in the afternoon came the news of the kind of decision that most rational people can't help but think is going to inflame matters as well as is just plain wrong and stupid: namely, the banning of Joshua Wong from standing in the upcoming District Council election.  (And no, it is no consolation at all that he is the only candidate disqualified from taking part in the contests.)  
 
The letter notifying him of this decision doesn't state a reason for this but it really doesn't take much to see that it's the result of political screening.  Also worth noting is that the powers that be really don't (want to) differentiate between calls for self-determination and independence.  Although not entirely unexpected, it's still a major indictment of the current system that Joshua Wong is effectively barred for contesting for even a District Council seat basically for being Joshua Wong: a young man who has become Hong Kong's pro-democracy poster child.    

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Yet another tear-gas filled Sunday in a part of the world with already far more police than is healthy

Beyond multi-arts: riot police

More riot police appeared to disturb the peace 
at the Avenue of Stars this afternoon

Not a sight people want to see in front of the 
ritzy hotel they have just arrived at!

Among the headlines that caught my eye this morning was one trumpeting the following: Hong Kong police to rehire 1,000 retired officers to cope with anti-government protests.  What with their ranks have already been swelled by members of the Mainland Chinese security force, this seems: at best, to be unnecessary; and at worst, to be an act of provocation that is only going to make the overall situation in Hong Kong worse rather than better. 


I wish it were otherwise but these days, it's not all that unusual any more to come across teams of cops -- and in riot gear to boot -- inside such as MTR stations and upon coming out of a bar, never mind at protests and while making one's way home from one.  And this afternoon, it felt like Tsim Sha Tsui was crawling with riot police: with whole groups of them to be found at the Star Ferry pier, by the Clock Tower and nearby waterfront, by the Hong Kong Space Museum, at the Avenue of Stars, and so on and so forth.  

A protest rally was called to take place at Salisbury Garden.  As befitted its "Stand with Journalists" theme (prompted by police harassment of journalists, particularly the previous weekend), it saw protesters and journalists gather in the same section of Tsim Sha Tsui.  Also in the crowd were people who looked like tourists sympathetic to the Hong Kong's pro-democracy protesters' cause and a few curious onlookers.  And there too were the very unwelcome police who: before I got onto the scene, had already threatened the peace by insisting on checking some people's bags; and about half an hour after I arrived in that area, decided to treat the assembled crowd to a tear gas buffet.           
I really should stop being shocked at what the police do these days but today's protest venue really did appear to be an unlikely one to have tear gas be fired into it.  We're talking, after all, about a prime tourist area, located in the vicinity of local landmarks like the Hong Kong Museum of Art (due to shortly re-open after a three year refurbishment), Hong Kong Space Museum, Hong Kong Cultural Centre, and iconic and super luxurious Peninsula hotel (the last of whose lobby ended up being filled with escaping protesters and tear gas)! 

Adding to the surrealness of it all was that this area is one with a number of food trucks and stands -- one of which quickly drew down its shutter as the riot police advanced; another of which remained defiantly open -- and luxury stores.  More with regards to the latter: Thus it was that as my friends and I sought to get out of tear gas range, I couldn't help but notice brand names like Cartier and Gucci loom large over the whole affair!  

On a more serious note: the way the riot police were pressing in, I found myself worrying that they wanted to push us into Victoria Harbour, the crowd (which included -- as is normal for a Hong Kong protest -- parents with young kids, the elderly and wheelchair-bound) would panic in their haste to get away and stampede, or both.  Fortunately, neither of those nightmare scenarios occurred -- but it's no credit to the police that this was the case; this especially since, as has become usual with the cops here, they also looked to have sought to disperse the crowd without providing a clear route for the crowd to disperse.

Some of the people who streamed over to Tsim Sha Tsui East appeared to have been met there with more tear gas since I came across people coughing and with streaming eyes.  Calling on my knowledge of the area's streets, I managed to walk from Salisbury Garden over to the Cross Harbour Harbour Tunnel bus stop without further incident though -- and was on the other side of Victoria Harbour when one of the police water cannons arrived at the scene and ended up also being employed against people who had assembled this afternoon for a peaceful protest.


In the off chance that the following was unclear: Yes, I think the police have grossly over-reacted yet again; and yes, I really do believe that if the police had not been there to stir up trouble, today's protests would have been peaceful -- like the one on June 16th with two million participants was able to be, thanks to the police presence that day having been not just restrained but actually invisible.  

These days, however, it often seems that the police want to suppress protests -- regardless of whether they are violent or not -- far more than they actually want to keep the peace.  And in so doing, they just make people more resolute in wanting to voice their dissent, and in their disapproval of the police in particular and government in general.       

Friday, October 25, 2019

Impossible to get away from politics these days in Hong Kong, and the conclusion that the majority of Hong Kongers are pro-protesters/democracy

https://scontent.fhkg4-2.fna.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/73472655_622625018276237_5221063301303107584_n.jpg?_nc_cat=104&_nc_eui2=AeGc8t1PX5daCBxHPsw6k4tHBMyMm-HX0MYOgTp56AqIA2A1LhlXC5f6jAC88TTvkp15b5767lmMF2Ssqknl0OdMiMsWb8t0RPsXaUb9Yc_32g&_nc_oc=AQnzVveHKXmpAdBOmaiBbLZUZoZeVIh-sncY18jCbUmGPzUB3Kwss5pdgO5GgDjuJ_g&_nc_ht=scontent.fhkg4-2.fna&oh=fece4a3a7972d83e385b30ae15c31f59&oe=5E55B8FB 
From March 2016 to October 2019 

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Before June 9th of this year, my blog had mainly been about movies, hiking, food, travel and drink -- with some whimsy thrown in by way of the likes of Funassyi, Hello Kitty and (Puppet) Ponyo.  It's not like I was apolitical: indeed, with my participation in the Umbrella Movement along with a number of protest marches and June 4th vigils over the years, some people might even have pegged me as an activist.  But it's also true that I often spent far more time regularly thinking about that which made me happy rather than often could upset.

Since the day of the largest protest march that Hong Kong had seen in years (yet would go on to be surpassed in size just a week later) though, and especially after the shocking events of June 12th (which, sadly, have also since been surpassed -- this time in terms of levels of brutality along with scale), I've regularly felt compelled to try to draw people's attentions to political troubles and other goings-on that Hong Kong has experienced for some 20 weeks now.  Indeed, most days, I've felt it to be somewhat criminal if I were to blog about a lighter subject (though it's also true that there has been the odd day when I've decided that a bit of light relief might actually be helpful).

In recent months, this tendency towards political discussion also has spread into my real life.  As a matter of fact, I've found it well nigh impossible since June of this year to have an extended conversation with anyone in Hong Kong that was completely devoid of political talk.  I think this is partly due not only to my feeling a need to emote and share my feelings on what's been happening to the place I've come to look upon as home but many of my friends being this way inclined too.  Then there's the fact of politics and police actions having such direct and wide impact on people's lives these days.

As an example: while having my hair cut a couple of months ago, I found myself listening to my hairstylist lamenting his local MTR station having had tear gas fired into it as well as talking about how business had been negatively affected by the protests.  And when attending a film preview earlier this month, the film publicist started telling me about how they had chosen the particular screening venue by trying to figure out which would be the part of Hong Kong with a cinema that would be the least troubled by the police, who Hong Kongers are more and more likely to view as bringing trouble into areas into which they venture rather than keeping it at bay.     

By and large, the political views I hear tend to be pro-protests and -protesters and anti-police, -Hong Kong government (particularly Carrie Lam) and -Beijing.  For a time, I had wondered whether I had gotten stuck in an echo chamber by way of people with markedly different viewpoints having decided to "unfriend" me on Facebook and stop talking to me in real life.  But over the past few months, I've also gotten talking to a number of people I previously hadn't exchanged political opinions with and/or I had previously never spoken to at all -- and still found everyone to think extremely lowly of Hong Kong's Chief Executive (in Name Only)!

Consequently, I've become increasingly convinced over these past few months that the majority of Hong Kongers are indeed pro-protest, -protester and -democracy -- like has been shown by way of surveys by the Chinese University of Hong Kong's Centre for Communication and Public Opinion (reported in Ming Pao and translated into English by the very useful Hong Kong Columns -- Translated).   To be sure, some people might point to the surveys' sample sizes as being on the low side.  But they still are larger than the 30 people chosen to ask Carrie Lam questions at a "community dialogue" session last month (of whom, as it turned out, 24 were identified as "yellow", 4 as neutral and 4 as "blue")! 

In addition, there are people who will argue that these days in Hong Kong, many "light blue" pro-government/Beijing folks tend to publicly identify themselves as "neutral" while some would say the same there are pro-democracy individuals who also think it's less trouble to publicly identify as "neutral".  For my part, I think there's some truth in both these suggestions.  I also reckon that the two groups may balance themselves out as well as both contribute to inflating the "neutral" numbers.  

In any case, it's indisputable that, in the latest survey, the combined numbers of "neutrals" and "pro-Beijing/establishment" individuals are smaller than the combined numbers of identified "democrats" and "localists".  Put another way: it's not just that the majority of my friends are "yellow" but, as a matter of fact, Hong Kongers in general! 

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

On the day that the Extradition Bill finally has been formally withdrawn

Hong Kong -- still Asia's World City?
 
 Things are quite different -- as in more restrictive -- now 
from just four months or so ago but I actually think 
Hong Kong's worth the trouble as well as love

My apologies for the recent radio silence but I decided it would be a good idea to take some time off from being online and also being in Hong Kong.  So two Tuesdays ago saw me flying off to Japan once more; this despite my not yet having finished blogging about my May trip to the Land of the Rising Sun
 
Despite my still having protest dreams and nightmares pretty much nightly, I actually do think that this short break was helpful as well as enjoyable.  And yes, I do feel that it's important these days to be mindful of one's psychological along with physical health -- as the past few months of protest and trouble in the city I have called home for some 12 and half years now have had quite the negative impact on many people's mental health.

 
In other words: the unrest has continued, with casualties mainly one the protester and bystander sides.  And regular Hong Kongers are still out resisting -- the majority using non-violent methods -- being suppressed by the government, including its increasingly brutal and ill-behaved police arm.
 
 
I think the vast majority of people in Hong Kong are agreed that things would have been so very different if the Hong Kong government (and/or its masters over in Beijing) had acceded more swiftly to protester demands.  Instead, the powers-that-be decided to play the waiting game -- and, in so doing, have cost Hong Kong dear.  
 
Perplexingly, Beijing has apparently also decided to hold off replacing Carrie Lam until March even while having already realized that she needs to go.  For some reason that I honestly can't quite understand, it seems that they are figuring that they don't lose as much face by not acting quickly on this matter.  
 
Even more frustrating to many Hong Kongers is the sense that having Carrie Lam step down is not going to help matters much.  She is undoubtedly highly unpopular but there's a definite feeling that the system is broke with regards to the selection of Hong Kong's Chief Executive since, after all, none of the holders of this office have exactly covered themselves in glory.

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. :(