Weaving together various observations and musings -- usually pertaining to aspects of Hong Kong (life) but sometimes beyond.
Wednesday, September 30, 2020
Musings about mooncakes, Catholics and more on Mid-Autumn Festival eve
Monday, September 28, 2020
Looking back to the start of the Umbrella Movement and ahead to there being continued protests in Hong Kong
Saturday, September 26, 2020
Hong Kong remains far more threatened by political repression than the Wuhan coronavirus or nature in general
Hong Kong has provided the world with a measuring stick to assess Beijing's behavior since 1984, when a deal was struck to return the territory to Chinese sovereignty on the condition that it enjoy a high degree of autonomy for 50 years. The actual handover took place in 1997.
Hong Kong is "first and foremost a promise... It's a promise of a high degree of autonomy for 50 years — judicial independence, free press, individual liberty, rule of law."
What the world has witnessed... is a promise made and a promise broken.
"You might say it has been broken in a very brutal and semi-fascist way."
And I do hope that he's right when he said more countries are coming to recognize that China poses a threat to everyone; this not least since the deadly coronavirus unleashed in Wuhan less than a year ago has gone on to cause so many deaths in the world already, with many more expected to come.
Thursday, September 24, 2020
Joshua Wong arrested once again -- this time for acts he engaged in (including wearing a mask!) last October!
Joshua Wong was arrested again this afternoon. While it didn't come as a major surprise -- since with this famous thorn in the flesh of the Hong Kong government and also Mainland China's, it had seemed like just a matter of time before the authorities decided to arrest him once more -- it still was upsetting because, well, finding out about the arrests of people one likes and respects still does hurt, however many times it happens as well as seemingly inevitable (for some) it has become in contemporary Hong Kong.
One small consolation: Within hours of his arrest, the 23-year-old political activist was released on bail. Also, because his arrest is related to his having participated in an
unauthorised assembly against the mask ban last October 5, it's not a
security law arrest. Even so, he's looking at the possibility of being sentenced to six years in jail if convicted of these "crimes".
As the Financial Times' Eli Meixler was moved to Tweet (and yes, it's as bizarre as it sounds): "So just to be clear that I have this:@joshuawongcf arrested for wearing a mask in Oct, when it as illegal by emergency ordinance, before it became legal again in Nov, illegal in April, when they were also required outdoors, and compulsory in September"; with the only bit that he got wrong being that the wearing of masks both in outdoor and indoor spaces in Hong Kong became mandatory in July! Or as whitebison66 put it more succinctly: "he's arrested while it's illegal not to wear a mask for something that happened when it was illegal to wear a mask"!
Ironically, Joshua Wong's latest arrest comes just a few days after it was announced that his friend and fellow Hong Kong political activist, Nathan Law, had topped the 2020 TIME100 Reader Poll (the latest edition of TIME magazine's annual compilation of the world’s most influential people). Put another way: the world recognizes the contributions of the likes of Law, Wong and Agnes Chow, and respects their efforts to stand up for their city and its people -- even while the Hong Kong government and its overlords in Beijing look upon them as nothing but trouble and want to lock them up, probably for life, and silence them, possibly for eternity.
Which, for me, is all the more reason to listen to them while we can. And I think it says a lot about Joshua Wong that, upon his release on bail today, he was urging the international community to focus less on the more well known likes of him and more on such as the 12 young Hong Kongers detained in Shenzhen after unsuccessfully trying to flee to Taiwan last month. Also, his most recent Tweets at this time of writing are about a phone repair specialist unjustly arrested for possessing the phones of his clients who the police deemed to have broken the security law!
Wednesday, September 23, 2020
Continuing to draw attention to the plight of the 12 Hong Kongers in custody in Shenzhen, and Hong Kongers in Hong Kong too
This past Sunday afternoon, their relatives appeared in public for a second time to make an appeal for further information about their loved ones. Among other things, they would like to see proof that the 12 were in fact detained in Chinese waters in the first place. (And, no, they aren't content with just getting "assurances" that this was the case by the Hong Kong police: that is, the same organization that alerted the Mainland Chinese coast guard as to the fugitives' attempts to flee Hong Kong.). The obviously very concerned individuals also want Hong Kong officials to contact the detainees to check on their latest condition to ensure that they aren’t injured as they themselves have been denied access to them.
These are demands that don't seem all that unreasonable, right? However, these are the Hong Kong and Mainland Chinese authorities they are dealing with. And as we have seen time and time again, Hong Kong officials will not stand up for Hong Kongers against Mainland China. (Forget the Mainland Chinese ones caring about what happens to Hong Kongers.) Why should they as they're too are not answerable at the polls (what polls?) to the people of Hong Kong!
Watching this saga, many people here have had the same thought. Hong Kong Hermit was speaking for us all when he Tweeted that: "This is every reason why we fought against the extradition bill in the first place. Because everyone feared being sent to China, where there is no hope of a fair trial, and with a Hong Kong govt. that won’t even advocate for its own people doing less than nothing to help."
Back on Saturday, Hong Kong Secretary for Security John Lee declared that he "understood the 12 were in good health, but [Hong Kong] officials had no right to visit them." He also essentially dismissed the attempts by the families of the detained Hong Kongers to ensure that their family members would get good legal representation by stating that this particular issue had already been sorted, with the detainees having picked lawyers from a list provided by the Mainland Chinese authorities.
As far as the family members are concerned though, this is not a satisfactory arrangement; especially since they have already hired lawyers to represent their loved ones -- and those lawyers have, like the family members themselves, thus far been denied access to the 12 detained Hong Kongers. And with one month now having passed since they last set eyes on their loved ones, they appear more determined than ever to see them and get assurances re their still being alive and well (something that sadly is not guaranteed when one is incarcerated over in Mainland China).
Many of their fellow Hong Kongers -- and human rights activists in other parts of the world -- are also seeking to publicize and plead for the cases of the 12 detained Hong Kongers. Earlier today, the Civil Human Rights Front announced that it had applied for a letter of no objection (from the Hong Kong police) to stage a march on October 1st with "Save [the] 12 Hong Kong Youths" as its theme. (And in a gesture of solidarity, the organizers of a previously planned October 1st protest march -- in Tsuen Wan, in honor of the schoolboy protestor shot in the chest there last October 1st-- have announced its cancellation.)
I have to be honest and say that I wonder how many people will take part in the planned October 1st march, especially if the police decline to issue a letter of no objection. It's not that people aren't still dissatisfied with the Hong Kong government nor do very much want to get the 12 Hong Kongers back to Hong Kong. But the fact of the matter is that the risks of getting arrested (and/or plain harassed) by the police, even if one were to stick to walking on the sidewalks rather than venture onto the road itself, are now so much higher -- and the possible penalties, if convicted, so much worse than before China's security law for Hong Kong came into effect this past June 30th.
Still, it seems that you can always trust Carrie Lam to fan the flames of indignation, if not resistance, and cause people to want to show their disapproval of her words, actions and very being -- and if not her, it'd be the Hong Kong police. Just this week, we have Carrie Lam telling the parents of the murdered teen -- whose murderer she had previously wanted so much to see brought to justice that she introduced the ill-fated extradition bill -- to "get over it" (with it being the murder of their daughter, lest it not be clear!). In addition, the Hong Kong police have announced that they will be tightening controls on the press and refusing to recognize the likes of freelance journalists, reporters for news websites, student journalists and citizen journalists (even if they are accredited by major press associations such as the Hong Kong Journalists Association and Hong Kong Press Photographers Association).
As Agence France-Presse (AFP)'s Xinqi Su has noted in a Twitter thread: It was journalists not considered genuine media under the police's new and questionable classification who broke the news about: the passengers being beaten by the police inside Prince Edward MTR station on August 31st, 2019; a cop shooting an unarmed protestor at Sai Wan Ho on November 11th, 2019; a riot policeman shooting a young protestor in the chest in Tsuen Wan on October 1st, 2019; and a 12 year old girl being chased and pushed to the ground by riot cops this past September 5th.
Monday, September 21, 2020
A wonderfully memorable evening at Kichijoji's Bakawarai (Photo-essay)
I dreamnt last night that I was visiting Japan. I've had many dreams in the past few months of leaving Hong Kong and going elsewhere but until last night, all of the dreams had actually been not very pleasant in nature: seeing as they involved my having to flee a place I love (and have come to look upon as my actual as well as spiritual home).
In last night's dream though, I was visiting what's become a favorite country to visit because of -- in no particular order -- its fantastic food, libations, cultural attractions, and natural ones too, a certain Pear (Fairy), friendly people and old friends who I met in Hong Kong but since have returned to their Japanese homeland. And even while it really saddens me that it's looking like the Wuhan coronavirus is going to prevent me from making even one trip to Japan this year, it's also true enough that I have plenty of great memories of the Land of the Rising Sun to tide me over a while -- some of which I haven't yet chronicled on my blog. So here's going ahead and resuming posting about some of them from my May 2019 trip to Tohoku and Tokyo!
Saturday, September 19, 2020
More political worries prompted by a spate of legal decisions this week
Thursday, September 17, 2020
Enjoying strolling along the Tsim Sha Tsui harbourfront sans tourist hordes (Photo-essay)
Earlier this week, the American and British governments issued travel advisories against visiting Hong Kong. This says quite a bit about the severity of the political situation that Hong Kong is in -- more so than it being threatened by the Wuhan coronavirus, in fact; something underlined by pro-democracy activist Sunny Cheung being the latest person to announce that he has fled Hong Kong.
In truth, however, Hong Kong has been devoid of tourists from everywhere in the world for some months now (after the government imposed a ban on tourist arrivals in late March -- but walked back on its stated plan that same day to ban alcohol sales). And even while hotels and other tourism-dependent parties rue the damage this has brought to their finances, many residents have been enjoying effectively having gotten parts of the city back from the tourist hordes (an uncomfortably large percentage of which have hailed in recent years from Mainland China)!
This has particularly been the case with regards to Tsim Sha Tsui, the area with the highest density of hotels in Hong Kong (and, it can feel like, the most businesses catered to Mainland Chinese tourists). And I don't think it's coincidence that I've happily spent more time in this section of Kowloon in recent months than I have in years! Heck, I've even happily strolled along the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront, including the section that's home to the revamped Avenue of Stars, a few times in recent months -- something I'd otherwise be loathe to do because I'd want to avoid the madding crowds there! For proof, check out the following photo-essay cobbled together from snaps taken from one cold weather afternoon and earlier this week!
Tuesday, September 15, 2020
Confirmation that Hong Kong's third Wuhan coronavirus wave has subsided the day after its mega costly mass testing scheme concluded
I'm sure that the government would say that if the 4-5 million people (from Hong Kong's 7.5 milillion population) that Health Secretary Sophia Chan estimated would take the tests had done so, more positive cases would have been found and this mass testing scheme would have been more worth its cost. As things stand though, the total number of tests taken by yesterday was officially estimated as "around 1,783,000" -- and it's worth noting, even then, that there are reports of some people having gone and taken the tests more than once!
Re those people who took the tests more than once: it's their right, I guess, since these tests are meant to be voluntary. But one still wonders why they decided to do so. To help inflate the embarassingly low numbers? Sadly, that's quite likely as these tests have effectively turned into a referendum on how much the Hong Kong people trust the government (to actually be doing something for sound medical rather than political reasons, to not collect their DNA for something nefarious, etc.) -- and the answer is pretty clear: not much at all.
Throw in other factors like groups of people being pressured by the pro-Beijing/Communist Chinese-owned companies they work for to take the tests, and the number of true volunteers taking the test goes down further. In a seemingly last ditch attempt to drum up more support, Mainland Chinese medical workers administering the tests gave statements to reporters about the sacrifices they had made: like work up to 12 hours per day, with the heavy workload even causing hand and shoulder injuries to some. Details also were shared about some having even been working eight hours straight without a break, and resorting to wearing adult diapers to avoid going to the toilet!
I guess this kind of thing impresses people in Mainland China. In Hong Kong, however, the reaction has been quite different. As local lawyer Kevin Yam Tweeted on the matter: "Wearing diapers to minimise breaks in #coronavirus testing exercise: What might genuinely be considered in Mainland China as a heroic commitment to get the job done would instead be considered in #HongKong as unhygienic, inhumane and/or simply contrived and needless"! And "Saikung Reader" was moved to Tweet that "Someone in Gov needs to read the Labour Dept’s Guide on Rest Breaks"!
In short, it really can feel like "One country: two different worldviews". And even while people keep on bemoaning the death of "One country, two systems", there's still obviously enough differences between Hong Kong and Mainland China for such as the relatives of the 12 Hong Kongers currently detained in Mainland China to want to see their return to Hong Kong. At the same time though, it's true enough that crucial differences really can feel like they are being chipped away; prompting the American and British governments to update their travel advisories for Hong Kong in recent days to warn of "abitrary arrests" now being a real possibility in this part of the world as well as Mainland China as a result of China's imposition of a national security law in Hong Kong.