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 noted, 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

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Protests aplenty still taking place against the odds in Hong Kong

Cartoon of Junius Ho manipulating a police officer and 
an "I Love Hong Kong police" thug like puppets on a string
A Lennon Wall I saw in Tsim Sha Tsui last night
which I'm not sure is still around this evening
I haven't ventured out of my apartment building for even a single second today.  It's not because there's a typhoon visiting Hong Kong.  Neither is it due to my feeling physically unwell.  Rather, it's partly because I felt a need to have a quiet day indoors after having spent a good bit of time outside yesterday (for both work and leisure purposes), and also the result of my not wanting to come across any trouble by way of the odious Junius Ho having asked his supporters to "clean Hong Kong"  -- as in destroy the Lennon Walls that these days can be found in various parts of the territory, and whose existence are concrete proof of the wide support that the pro-democracy movement possesses. 
More than incidentally, today is the two month anniversary of the attacks by Triad thugs on passengers at Yuen Long MTR station.  And at the time of my writing this line of this blog post, hundreds have gathered in that northwestern New Territories town to mark the occasion with a sit-in protest that is taking place in a mall adjacent to Yuen Long MTR Station after the station was closed for the day earlier today by the MTR.
A few weeks ago, I would have seriously considered going and taking part in this protest and/or the march held in Tuen Mun earlier day which received a Letter of No Objection from the police.  That I didn't do so is not due to protester fatigue.  Rather, it's primarily because the MTR has continued the policy it initiated back on August 24th of closing MTR stations hours ahead of a legal protest march -- which makes it difficult for people, especially those not living in close proximity to the particular areas where the protests have been scheduled, to get to the events.  
Those who are observing events from afar might look at the participation figures for today's two protest events and conclude that the extradition bill/pro-democracy protests are dying down.  From my vantage point though, that's actually not the case: for even while the  individual protest events in recent weeks have not come close to being as numerically impressive as those took place back on June 9th, June 16th or even August 18th, the actual number of protests each week have actually proliferated.  
Something else quite noticeable to me is that there now regularly are a pretty wide choice of protests to take part in.  In addition to more conventional protest marches (both along established routes and newer ones) and rallies, there have been newer innovations such as gatherings in malls and other spaces to belt out the stirring, anthem-like Glory to Hong Kong.  Also adding to protest event variety and numbers have been the multiple human chains formed in the wake of the inspiring Hong Kong Way, including at the -- sadly under-reported, to my mind -- high-spirited football fan gathering in Victoria Park earlier this week

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Footballing support amidst sporting disruptions in Hong Kong

Supporters of various football teams and clubs 
came together in Victoria Park last night
Traditional footballing enemies put aside their differences to show 
their shared support for Hong Kong's pro-democracy protests 

A symbol of the uncommon unity held up like a trophy
(and used to show that laser pointers can't burn it)! :)

China's late paramount leader, Deng Xiaoping, promised that after Britain's handover of Hong Kong to Chinese rule in 1997, “horses will still run, stocks will still sizzle, dancers will still dance."  As it so happened though, the Hong Kong Jockey Club cancelled race night at Happy Valley last night for fear of how people would react to a horse co-owned by hated pro-Beijing legislator Junius Ho (he of the Yuen Long Triad connections and more) being scheduled to compete in a race.

Continuing on the sporting front: News came today that the Professional Golfers' Association (PGA)'s Clearwater Bay Open also will not take place this year while the organizers of the Hong Kong Tennis Open pre-emptively announced last week that this year's edition (originally scheduled to begin on October 7th) would be postponed because of the ongoing pro-democracy protests.  And, as it so happened, the Hong Kong government also announced yesterday that there will be no fireworks display this October 1st (like was the case five years ago and in the aftermath of the 2012 Lamma Island ferry collision).     

We can but hope that on the 70th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, more joyous events like the gathering of football fans at Victoria Park last night will be held in Hong Kong instead.  Hundreds of supporters of various teams and clubs obeyed a call put out just a few days ago to assemble in the public space which on each June 4th since 1989 is where a candlelight vigil is held.  We then fanned out to form a human chain that ended up circling all six of Victoria Park's football pitches, with enough hands, legs and bodies (the last clad for the most part in jerseys of favorite football teams) to spare to form an additional line through the middle of the area.  

A spirited yet peaceful pro-democracy protest and show of solidarity, it saw club rivalries set aside to show people's collective support for Hong Kong's pro-democracy protests.  Consequently, there came to be such unlikely sights as Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur fans happily posing for photos together, and experiences involving fans from various clubs good-naturedly singing the anthem associated with Liverpool Football Club (You'll Never Walk Alone) as well as belting out Glory to Hong Kong and chanting "Five demands; not one less"

More than by the way, this Gooner couldn't help but notice the healthy representation of people clad in Arsenal jerseys last night.  Either there's a good percentage of Gooners who are pro-democracy supporters or there are a good number of pro-democracy supporters who are Gooners.  Frankly, either of these possibilities is fine by me! 

Something else that I found interesting was whose names and numbers were the best represented at last night's footballing gathering cum pro-democracy protest.  The most popular current Arsenal players in Hong Kong look to be, expectedly, 2018/19 Arsenal Player of the Season, Alexandre Lacazette, and less expectedly, Uruguayan defensive midfielder Lucas Torreira (more so even than the likes of 2018/19 Premier League Golden Boot Winner, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and German World Cup Winner, Mezut Ozil).  As for past players: I found it gratifying to see that there's still love for Dennis Bergkamp and Tomas Rosicky even while being shocked to not have spotted a single jersey bearing the name of Mr Arsenal himself, Tony Adams! ;b

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Finally more or less recovered after a nightmare experience two days ago

How a Hong Kong Island street looked less than
 an hour after I had been tear gassed

The dismaying sight that confronted me on my way home 
from dinner in a nearby neighborhood this past Sunday

Even though they occured just two days ago, some of my experiences this past Sunday now can feel like they took place in a different universe and were merely a nightmare rather than actual, lived reality that I have needed some time to recover from.  More specifically, that afternoon found me enjoying a pint of beer and a shared cheese platter at a favorite pub in Central.  So far, so good until it was time for the friends I was with and I to go our merry way home.  

Since we weren't trusting that the MTR would be a safe transport option on a protest day -- not least because we had received word of the riot police appearing in a number of nearby stations -- and over-ground public transportation were not operating in the areas where we lived, a friend and I decided to make our way back to our respective residences on foot. While walking past Three Pacific Place, a team of riot police suddenly emerged from the parking lot behind the office building and fired tear gas into the street and in our direction.  The friend I was with estimated that they were just five meters away from us at the time -- so yes, we did feel the effects of the tear gas pretty strongly.  

While this was not my first tear gas experience of the summer, it certainly was far more intense.  Even an encounter with the Tai Hang fire dragon the night before had not prepared me for how much my eyes would sting and water, and certainly not for how much mucus would pretty much immediately stream out of my nose and mouth as a result of a close encounter with that which is supposed to be used for crowd dispersal rather to attack people.  

So I am really grateful to the helpful stranger who came over and directed me to a safe area after noticing I was having problems seeing and the first aider who was near enough to come over to rinse my eyes with water and saline solution soon after the area was buffeted by tear gas.  (As an aside: it really can be amazing how many Hong Kongers will extend much kindness and generosity to complete strangers turned comrade-in-arms or "merely" fellow humans caught up in the same bad situation.)  

After that unpleasant experience, I decided to avoid the major thoroughfares where I figured the riot police would be more likely to be in favor of walking home via the backstreets. This meant my routing would be less direct but I figured it'd be worth it if this meant that I could avoid experiencing further tear-gas buffets.  

For the most part, this new strategy did result in a less incident-filled passage home.  I still did pass by three groups of riot police -- at least two of whom were being implored by upset area residents to "go away" and such -- along the way though.  And upon reaching the home stretch of my journey, I was met with the sight of a disconcertingly large number of police vans lined up at my home MTR station all the way almost to the neighboring MTR station. 

As it so happened, my area was one of the major problem areas that night.  Coupled with clashes having occured in my neighborhood on Saturday, I get the distinct feeling that my part of Hong Kong is now being perceived as a "no go" zone by many.  Ironically, it's one of the increasingly rare urban sections of Hong Kong where tear gas has not been discharged as yet.  But in view of how "generous" the police are in their use of that particular weapon at this disposal, I fear that it's just a matter of time before the likes of me will be catching whiffs of this substance which was previously such a rarity in our homes rather than "just" out on the streets in other parts of town. :( 

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Mid-Autumn Festival sightings of the Tai Hang fire dragon (Photo-essay)

Despite temperatures reaching a high of 34 degrees Celsius (93.2 degrees Fahrenheit) in Hong Kong yesterday, the Mid-Autumn Festival was celebrated throughout the territory.  To mark the occasion (and also show their determination to continue their protesting), some intrepid folks hiked up Lion Rock and formed a human chain a la the Hong Kong Way. A human chain also was formed up on the Peak last night while still others took advantage of the evening's peace to enjoy a special night out in Hong Kong.

For my part, I felt the Tai Hang fire dragon -- which makes its annual appearance the night before, of and after the Mid-Autumn Festival -- calling to me once more yesterday evening.  So, after an early dinner with a friend, off I went to a part of Hong Kong that turned out to be less crowded than usual when the fire dragon pays a visit this year; thanks in no small part to the ongoing protests having scared off a good number of visitors, especially Mainland Chinese tour groups.  And because the area was not so packed as it has been in recent years, I think I got some of my best shots ever of the traditional harbinger of good luck last night as well as got gifted an incense stick off the fire dragon for the first time ever! :)

Follow the incense and smoke to catch sight not only of
the fire dragon but the actual acts involved in assembling it!
An estimated 70,000 incense sticks are needed, along with large 
amounts of straw and twine, for the construction of the fire dragon!
Great balls of fire!  The fire dragon on the move,
in pursuit of two fiery and large "pearls"!
 Adding to the spectacle is the strong smell of incense
and high heat that accompanies this fabled creature 
credited with ridding the area of ill fortune

Hundreds of lit incense sticks on a 70 kilogram head with 
electric powered eyes and teeth of sheet metal make for 
an awesome sight, especially when viewed up close!

The fire dragon's 67-meter-long body is plenty impressive too!

Throw in the festive street decorations and it's all
really quite the memorable spectacle

 The head of the fire dragon at rest is still pretty spectacular
-- but just imagine it in motion... or make a point to
come over and see it  for yourself some time! ;b

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Trying in vain to put a positive spin on a situation that the police and government appear intent on making worse :(

It's a big deal when lots of people turn up for a protest march...

...hence the people in power not wanting to see 
such mega turnouts repeated again

Not so long ago, I had a friend characterize me as -- or should I say accuse me of being? -- a Pollyanna.  But while I'd not deny that I do like to look on and for the bright side of things, it's also true enough that there are times when my mood can suddenly plummet after an unpleasant encounter with a person, having a not so satisfying experience or even hearing a less than positive piece of news.

Which brings us to my present situation: After feeling miserably low after the events of last Sunday, I actually perked up a bit over the next few days during which I had positive encounters with a number of people (clients as well as friends), a few really nice meals, and even enjoyed a night out at the cinema watching a feel-good documentary about women and sake.  And even though I wasn't at Hong Kong stadium on Tuesday night, seeing and hearing what ensued there via video clips by Twitter users (like this and this too) did warm the cockles of my heart.

To be sure, the sight of three women (two of them with official looking red vests that seemed to emphasize that they were hired help) tearing down posters and post-it notes from my local Lennon Wall in broad daylight early yesterday afternoon did get my temper rising.  But my returning to a scene a few hours later with a hand-made poster to rebuild the wall and seeing in the evening that others also had contributed to re-building what I have come to look upon as a community affirmation of pro-democracy demands and support made me feel that there were more positives than negatives in that day.

Sadly, however, the fragile inner peace I had for the first half of this week was shattered this afternoon by the news that a proposed march this Sunday by the venerable Civil Human Rights Front has been banned by the police.  For those who wish to keep count: It's now the 13th such time this has happened this summer (if one also includes the banning today of another proposed protest march on Saturday -- that one over in Tin Shui Wai).  

One big reason why this ban gets my goat is that the authorities are attempting to ensure that there are no further mega protests (like those organized by the Civil Human Rights Front on June 9th and 16th) will take place not by trying to actually assuage the protesters but, instead, by preventing them from exercising what's supposed to be basic rights guaranteed in Article 27 of the Basic Law.  Put another way: Even while still often making a case that peaceful protests are useless, they also want to ensure that large-scale peaceful protests are no longer possible in Hong Kong.   

Another reason why this ban (which I'm sure will be appealed but am not sure will get overturned) is such a downer is that it's come on top of the news also received today that the MTR is continuing with its actions to inconvenience the public (this time by announcing earlier today that it has deemed overnight Mid-Autumn Festival services too risky), and Justice Secretary Teresa Cheng -- whose unpopularity rivals Carrie Lam's -- announcing that the government has indeed been considering invoking emergency powers and also that her department had been thinking of introducing a law banning protesters from wearing masks

With regards to the last "idea": Again, it shows that the government is not trying to actually get to the root of problems but, rather, dealing -- and in an idiotic way at that -- with the by-products of them.  To try to stop people in notoriously germaphobic Hong Kong from wearing masks would seem like a recipe for disaster and revolution even in normal times.  To do so when Hong Kongers already feel that they have so much to be angry about really is the height of insanity, and yet one more sign that this government is seriously clueless as to how to get Hong Kong out of the situation it currently is in as well as of actually understanding -- and positively responding to -- the demands of the people. :(