Saturday, October 31, 2020

Still living a nightmare more than one year on, but seeing that justice can prevail at times along the way

A mask worn by many people in Hong Kong on Halloween last year
Masks won every day by pretty much all Hong Kongers 
when out in public these days 

One year ago, I had a nightmare experience on Halloween.  Actually, if truth be told, it feels like I've been living in a nightmare for more than a year now, thanks to Carrie Lam having decided to introduce a controversial extradition bill and the Hong Kong police exercabating matters with their actions on June 12th, July 21st, August 31st and so much more.  And that's all before China stepped in -- or, perhaps more accurately, took off its mask and revealed its hand with such as the introduction of a national security law for Hong Kong.  Oh, and of course we can't forget the unleashing the Wuhan coronavirus onto the world.     

And even while things appeared to calm down quite a bit on the ground -- at least on the surface -- in recent weeks (and the spectre of Wuhan coronavirus also feels smaller than in previous months -- what with Hong Kong back to single digit numbers for new cases and even some days without any local transmissions, like today), the fact of the matter is that there always are goings on that those of us keeping an eye out for things that keep us troubled.  As an example: I was really upset to discover yesterday that, contrary to my earlier belief, Junius Ho (of Yuen Long 7.21 infamy) had, in fact, managed to wrest control of the Legislative Council's IT and broadcast panel, and was proceeding to make the kind of proposals that we feared that the pro-Beijingers would do upon truly gaining the upper hand in the legislature.  
I learnt about this in an Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) article reporting on Ho having called for Hong Kong's sole public service broadcaster to be merged with the government's public relations unit; a move that would truly neuter the already under threat organization.  One has to worry for the professional future of RTHK staffers Nabela Qoser and Yvonne Tong: the former of whom won many fans when she took Carrie Lam and her officials to task over what happened in Yuen Long on July 21st, 2019; the latter of whom's interview with a World Health Organization (WHO) senior official caused quite the sensation as a result of her asking him about Taiwan.  Furthermore, I do fear that the day when the Great Firewall of China will encircle Hong Kong -- and make the use of such as Google, Facebook, Twitter and Blogger illegal -- is going to arrive sooner rather than later.
Ironically, this Halloween Day has actually brought some good news to lift up my spirits.  More specifically, there came news today that seven people, aged between 20 and 27 years, were acquitted of rioting during a protest in Wan Chai and Causeway Bay on August 31 last year; with presiding District Judge Sham Siu-man's stating that even if the defendants are to be regarded as being related to the incidents that occurred before their arrests, their participation in a riot was not the only reasonable inference.  
This same judge had previously dismissed the case against Jackie Chen, a social worker who had volunteered to monitor police behaviour during pro-democracy protests, "for the lack of prima facie evidence".  Predictably, the Justice Department has filed an appeal to reverse the judge’s decision.  And there also is the possibility that the Judge Sham Siu-man will be reassigned so that he won't be overseeing cases involving pro-democracy protestors; as has happened in recent months to two magistrates accused by pro-Beijingers of being biased against the police.  

For now though, we enjoy this victory for justice and the pro-democracy movement.  For if we can't allow ourselves to celebrate and savor such occasions, our world would feel so very dark and depressing; and it would be impossible to have any hope that we could, and can, ever emerge from this living nightmare still strong and sane.   

Thursday, October 29, 2020

National security woes today, and more blows in the offing

 Predators seeking to catch victims in their web
abound in Hong Kong... 
...and so does continued resistance and dissent!
What thus far is only the second case of an individual being charged under China's security law for Hong Kong which came into effect on July 1st (after Tong Ying-kit, who was arrested on the first day of the national security law's existence) sees Tony Chung being accused of: secession, money laundering and conspiracy to publish seditious material.  Seeing as the first charge carries a maximum penalty of lifetime imprisonment, it's obviously the most serious.  And at first glance, being accused of having organised, planned, committed or participated in "acts with a view to commit secession or undermine national unification between July 1 and October 27" does look to be pretty heavy stuff.     
But when you look at what he's actually done, things start looking really farcical.  For what you've got here for the most part is a teenager's advocating independence for Hong Kong on not much more than Facebook posts!  The following are a couple of choice paragraphs from a BBC report on this matter:   

According to Joshua Rosenzweig, the head of Amnesty International's China Team, "a peaceful student activist has been charged and detained solely because the authorities disagree with his views".

Consider it another way. Mr Chung is 19 years old. What views were you expressing when you were 19? What opinions were others expressing? Should you have been threatened with life imprisonment for them?

What mades these views from the BBC even more eye-opening is that I often have found this particular media outlet to be one of the more biased against the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement.  (How I wish that I could embed links to Tweets here but since I can't, here's posting its URL here:  But, as with many Hong Kongers, I guess they're belatedly waking up to the harsh reality of living in Hong Kong under China's security law for it, with the previously cited article concluding as follows:-

In just a matter of months, the pro-Beijing camp in Hong Kong has made use of the new national security law to erode the harbour city's once vaunted freedom of speech. It is nothing short of a disaster for the vast majority of residents who voted for the pro-democracy block in the most recent local elections.

As a document, the proposed law was frightening, but now people are seeing the reality: state security agents grabbing teenage activists from cafes and taking them away perhaps for the rest of their lives. On the ground in Hong Kong, the shocking reality of the new legal regime is becoming clear.

Add the following development and the future is looking really bleak indeed for Hong Kong: The Hong Kong police is planning to launch a new hotline for gathering national security-related intelligence from members of the public.  Put another way: they want to encourage people to inform on one another; and, in so doing, are going to tear to shreds any trust that people have for family members and friends, never mind strangers in their midst.  
Alternatively put: I fear that a Cultural Revolution is coming to Hong Kong; brought about by a man who personally suffered during the Chinese Cultural Revolution but seemed to have emerged from it having learnt the wrong lessons.  For instead of "never again", Xi Jinping seems to think and act more in terms of "make sure you are the one with power to oppress others rather than be oppressed (once more)".   
So what are we to do about it?  It's going to be hard to do but we're going to have draw from inspiration on those freedom fighters who (eventually) prevailed, like Nelson Mandela, and such as Invictus, the Victorian poem that inspired him and kept his spirit defiant for so many years, whose concluding lines are as follows:-
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

The Wuhan coronavirus and other perceived Mainland Chinese threats to Hong Kong's health and wellbeing

We're living in a topsy turvy world where ideas once revered
are now not given much credence :(

But even while the dine-in limit for restaurants will be raised to 6 (from the current four) this Friday, the public gathering will remain at four.  This has prompted jokes about how a legal party of six diners will become lawbreakers once they leave the restaurant they had been since they'd then constitute an illegal gathering on top of similar jokes cracked last week after the Hong Kong government announced that 30 person tour groups will be allowed even while four person gathering limits continue to be upheld.    
The cracks highlighting how ridiculous the government's decisions are elicit laughter from listeners but it's the kind of laughter that was recorded in Elenore Smith Bowen's Return to Laughter.  Specifically, "In an environment in which tragedy is genuine and frequent, laughter is essential to sanity...  It is often bitter and sometimes a little mad, for it is the laugh under the mask of tragedy, and also the laughter that masks tears."
Alternatively put: it is so very obvious to many Hong Kongers that the government is using the (threat of the) Wuhan coronavirus to suppress people and protest.  Thus it is that, as Renaud Haccart Tweeted back on September 15th: "As noted by other commentators, there’s a fair chance that group gathering rules will be the very last to go, as they provide the perfect cover for police to disrupt any public protest of any size or form and make arrests."
As things stand, the government appears to have gotten even to the hitherto highly trusted Professor Yuen Kwok-yung (of the University of Hong Kong's Department of Microbiology).  Either that or the strain has gotten to the good doctor as he's made pronouncements recently that have been greeted with suspicion and/or derision.  Take as an example his proposal that bar patrons use straws and wear masks while drinking.  (One reaction: "Does this man drink alcohol?  Or did he drink too much alcohol prior to coming up with this preposterous suggestion?!")  
Whether they come into Hong Kong after undergoing quarantine or not, two people from Mainland China whose confirmed appointments and expected arrivals have already caused unease and dissent are the incoming vice president of research and vice president of academic development at the University of Hong Kong (HKU).  At a glance, it might be assumed that Hong Kongers (including pro-democratic councillors and civic groups, and HKU staff, alumni and current students) are exhibiting anti-Mainland Chinese sentiment but their opposition actually stems from fears that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) -- not (just) Mainland Chinese individuals per se -- are assuming control of Hong Kong's premier university (this not least since one of the individuals concerned was previously reported to be a Chinese Communist Party member).

Remember: there was much talk about those elections having been allowed to go ahead because the governments (in Hong Kong and over in Beijing) and pro-Beijing camp mistakenly believed that "the silent majority" was on their side; whereas this year's Legislative Council election was not allowed to go ahead as scheduled because they now know full well that the majority of people living in Hong Kong are not pro-Beijing (as well as are super anti-Carrie Lam and her administration).  And lest it not be obvious: despite whatever the powers that be say, the Legislative Council election was not postponed because of the Wuhan coronavirus! 
Something else that should be patently clear: despite the Legislative Council electoral system already being rigged, the authorities actually have to rig it further to actually ensure a victory for their allies!  On the one hand, this points to a seriously sad state of affairs in, and for, Hong Kong.  On the other, it goes to show how strong the opposition to the Hong Kong government (and its Beijing overlords) is -- and that, in some ways, is pretty heartening since, among other things, those who passionately love Hong Kong really are in the majority in Hong Kong.     

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Man Lim-chung's Keep Rolling is a worthy -- and very watchable -- documentary tribute to Ann Hui (Film review)

Poster for the documentary on Ann Hui On-wah
Keep Rolling (Hong Kong, 2020)
- Man Lim-chung, director
Ann Hui directed her first feature film in 1979.  The Secret was a commercial hit as well as critically acclaimed.  The high regard with which it continues to be held can be seen by it having been chosen in recent years for restoration treatment by the Hong Kong Film Archive, and DVDs of it having gone out of stock (as in, have completely sold out).
More than forty years on, the 73-year-old filmmaker is still active in the film industry; with her latest offering being Septet, a joint effort with six other illustrious Hong Kong filmmakers (born in the 1940s and 1950s) that was the opening film at this year's Busan International Film Festival, which began earlier this week.  I hope -- and, actually, reckon -- that it will not be her last directorial effort by a long shot.  Even so, now seems a pretty good time to also see a documentary made about Ann Hui and her work.  And that's what Man Lim-chung's Keep Rolling is -- and more, actually, since, as he stated at its world premiere (also earlier this week), it's about "Ann’s career and work, it’s about cinema, and it’s about Hong Kong".             
Four years in the making (with it having been shot over the course of three years and editing work taking up another year), Keep Rolling is much more than just "talking heads" and choice film excerpts.  Rather, it also features such as "behind the scenes" on-location footage of Ann Hui directing the likes of Zhou Xun and Eddie Peng in Our Time Will Come (2017), and Tang Wei in The Golden Era (2014), as well as the Hong Konger in her home habitat, hanging out with friends and family members, and going about her daily life, walking her neighborhood streets and taking public transport (everyday actions which can hold a certain fascination when enacted by a famous individual some of us might expect to be more recognized physically!).  
Filmophiles will undoubtedly appreciate seeing Ann Hui in directorial mode and hearing other directors and crew members talking about her working style.  I also enjoyed getting personal insights about her from her siblings along with her own accounts of her childhood, her university experiences (which should bring to mind her Starry is the Night (1988)), and her views of her life and world.  And fans of Ann Hui will undoubtedly appreciate the chance to get to know her mother (some biographical details of whom had been shared in Song of the Exile (1990)) that Keep Rolling offers up.    

Ann Hui being Ann Hui, it probably was impossible for a documentary about her to be dull and uninteresting.  What is a pleasant surprise though is how much laughter there can be when watching what actually also is a very entertaining as well as informative film! 
Take the sequence which shows the film's subject trying out clothes to wear for a Golden Horse Awards ceremony, followed by footage of her at the Golden Horse Awards apologizing for not wearing those clothes, then an interview in which her co-presenter on the night, Sylvia Chang (the lead actress in The Secret as well an obvious friend), recounted how mad she had been that Ann Hui had not dressed up for the occasion like she had taken obvious pains to do!  It tells you a lot about the director and the affection that her fellow Hong Kong film industry veteran has for her; and, as with the rest of Keep Rolling, it makes the audience appreciate Ann Hui as as a fellow human as well as a much respected filmmaker who Hong Kong cinema has been blessed to have had in its ranks, and for so many years.  
My rating for the film: 9.0    

Friday, October 23, 2020

A Lamma Island hike that served up reminders of there still being so much to love about Hong Kong (Photo-essay)

Also, there really are far worse places to be stuck in during a pandemic which has made leisure travel seem too risky and difficult to attempt than one with lots of accessible countryside to get away from the madding crowd.  And especially when even this may be at risk if Carrie Lam's government had its way, like with the plans for the Shek Kwu Chau incinerator (but thankfully hasn't always), it really is good to go out every once in a while to enjoy -- while it's still there; and this especially at a time of the year when the high heat and humidity of the summer is giving way to blessedly cooler temperatures and lower humidity levels that puts me in the mood to go hiking once more...
(for social distancing reasons) but people have been free to go 
hiking in the country parks -- and associated areas -- all this time
Lamma Island has no country parks but it is home to a lot
of countryside and the popular Lamma Island Family Walk
You know it's a high visibility day when you can see the tips
of tall skyscrapers over on the northern side of Hong Kong (and also 
By far the most critter spottings made on this hike was
when we were by Picnic Bay (Sok Kwu Wan) overlooking
the fisheries beloved by egrets and the like
At Shek Pai Wan, I came across a beach without barriers erected to stop 
people from entering -- and, even more miraculously, with way less 
trash than one'd expect to see at an ungazetted beach!
The last hour or so of the hike was spent hurrying to get to
hike's end before the sun went down but, even so,
there were times I felt compelled stop and take a photo!
When you get treated to this sight after completing a 13.3 
kilometer hike, you can't help but think there's much right 
still with, and in, the world :)

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Wuhan coronavirus-inflicted economic woes on top of political ones for Cathay Pacific and those who it's making jobless

Grounded planes -- a good many of which are part of the
Cathay Pacific fleet -- at Hong Kong International Airport
News came yesterday that Hong Kong's unemployment rate had risen to 6.4 percent: the highest in about 16 years and more than double the 2.9 percent jobless rate recorded around this time last year.  Barely 24 hours afterwards, there has come the announcement that Hong Kong's flagship carrier, Cathay Pacific, will axe its Cathay Dragon regional subsidiary tomorrow -- and that 8,500 jobs ((some 5,300 of which are Hong Kong-based) will go when this happens.     
Aviation fans and other nostalgic Hong Kongers are mourning the loss of the Cathay Dragon fleet -- in large part for its connection to Dragonair, Hong Kong's first local airline.  Established to compete with Cathay in 1985, it ended up being taken over by its erstwhile competitor in 2006 but retained its logo until 2016, when it was rebranded as Cathay Dragon

Meanwhile, those looking ahead rather than back into the past are fearing that there will be further job cuts both within the Cathay ranks and also beyond; with the chairwoman of the Confederation of Trade Unions, Carol Ng, saying that Cathay Pacific's job cuts will serve to encourage other employers to follow suit.  (Just this past weekend, I heard two senior executives talk about how their companies were intent on keeping up appearances by not retrenching people at this time.  I wonder how different their conversation about job cuts will be now that Cathay's effectively got the retrenchment ball rolling.)
Of course it's true enough that the aviation industry has been really hit hard by the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic.  Usually, by this time of the year, I'd have flown on at least three times out of Hong Kong (and another three back again), and I know of many people who would have been flying out of and into Hong Kong more frequently than me.  Also, I'm one of what must be tens, if not hundreds, of thousands -- even millions -- of people who had their air fare refunded after feeling obliged to cancel -- or postpone for a (long) time -- planned trips this year; with many of those involving Cathay Pacific in the case of Hong Kong-based individuals. 
Hong Kong's flagship carrier additionally was in trouble back in 2019 after it bowed to China and fired a staffer of 17 years for displays of solidarity with anti-extradition bill protestors that she had privately posted on Facebook as well as two pilots involved in the protests.  Whereas earlier on, the airline had been applauded for its staffers standing with Hong Kong (including, a flight captain whose pre-landing message went viral), it later drew the wrath of many Hong Kongers (not least after the pilot in question was reported to have left Cathay, probably involuntarily); with a number of people deciding that they were going to boycott the airline they previously had felt proud of and emotionally attached to.      
In better news for the travel industry, or at least its local tours sector: the Hong Kong government announced yesterday that it would be relaxing some social distancing measures and allow licensed travel agencies to run tour groups of not more than 30 people starting from this Friday.  At the same time though, the public gathering ban on groups of larger than four will remain.  So there's some confusion as to how those tour groups of far more than four people will be run!  

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Eyes in Hong Kong turn outwards even while Hong Kong pro-democracy protestors inspire others

Out of sight but not out of mind
Yes, the world is interconnected...
I went out to what turned out to be quite the marathon dinner -- one which went on for around four hours (and featured way more courses than I'm normally used to) -- with friends yesterday.  There was much chatting while we ate, and the conversation subjects ranged quite a bit in terms of topics but also geography.  Inevitably, we talked about the Wuhan coronavirus (which is ranging far less now in Hong Kong -- which had just four new cases today, two of them imported -- than much of the rest of the world but still continues to prey on our minds).  In contrast to other recent meetups with friends though, security law fears and pro-democracy protests were not touched on much at all.          

It's not that the people in the party were not apolitical.  I know at least two of my friends present have long been regular June 4th vigil attendees and also that one of them regularly attended July 1st protest marches (at least prior to this year).  
I also don't think that we're experiencing the protest version of quarantine fatigue.  Even so, I must admit that even I spent more time yesterday following the New Zealand elections -- and having a bout of leader envy as a result of seeing New Zealand being blessed with having a leader like Jacinda Ardern -- than checking Hong Kong political news.  (And yes, seeing her win big yesterday made me happy, the way that seeing another popular leader known for right by her people, Tsai Ing Wen, prevail in the Taiwan elections earlier this year did.)         

Earlier in the day, I also felt good upon seeing yet another foreign national leader look to do the right thing in the person of Canada's Justin Trudeau pledging to continue to defend human rights in China (including Hong Kong) after China's ambassador to Ottawa issued a threat regarding the “health and security” of the 300,000 Canadians living in Hong Kong earlier this week.  At the same time, it was sad to see Hong Kong referred to in The Guardian's article on the matter as "the theoretically autonomous Chinese territory": quite a far cry from Special Administrative Region (as per its official designation) or even "semi-autonomous region" (as I've seen it referred to more to recently); and a sure sign that much of the world has indeed finally awakened to its plight and altered state/status.
It also felt bittersweet to see Greta Thunberg Tweet her support in recent days for the 12 Hong Kongers who were apprehended by the Mainland Chinese authorities eight weeks ago now and have remained incommunicado with their loved ones as well as in Mainland Chinese custody all this time.  (As in: it's great to have yet another high profile personality's support of Hong Kong's pro-democracy protestors, their plight and their cause -- and, specifically, the ongoing international campaign to save the 12 Hong Kong youths -- but I wish there wasn't that need in the first place, you know?) 
Of course, in recent days, the protests that appear to be catching the most attention is not Hong Kong's but Thailand's.  And while some might think that Hong Kong pro-democracy advocates already have a lot on their hands with regards to the battles to be fought in their home territory, many are actually standing up and declaring their support of their Thai counterparts.  On Twitter (which, as a reminder, the new version of Blogger very annoyingly won't let me link to), one can see not only individual "Stand with Thailand" messages from Hong Kongers but also videos and photos showing such a small "Stand with Thailand" display erected in Kennedy Town and "Stand with Thailand" graffiti in Tai Koo Shing. 
Some of this was undoubtedly sparked by many Thai protest images (e.g., this and this) bringing to mind Hong Kong ones for many Hong Kongers (as has been the case with many of those from Belarus and the USA in recent months -- and no, it's not a coincidence).  But it's also the case that there's been solidarity among Hong Kong, Thai and Taiwanese pro-democracy advocates for some time now -- with the Milk Tea Alliance being what it's become popularly known as for months now!        
Those who think that Hong Kong's pro-democracy protestors have lost might wonder how come their tactics are being adopted by others in far flung parts of the world.  My argument, of course, is that the Hong Kong fight is not yet over.  Yes, the situation in Hong Kong can look pretty bleak, on some days more than others.  But as long as we resist, there's hope.  Ditto when we have the support of others -- abroad as well as at home -- and know we are not alone, and even have the power to inspire (others in the world).  

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Media tycoon Jimmy Lai under threat once more -- and with him, Hong Kong's (press) freedoms

Apple Daily has continued to stand with 
Hong Kong into October...
...and Hong Kongers have continued to stand with,
and support, Apple Daily and Jimmy Lai
When speaking to reporters this afternoon, Hong Kong's most notable pro-democracy billionaire declared that the police "took away everything".  Lai also told the assembled press that: "It seems that they are looking for every possible reason to charge me… The police didn’t even wait for the lawyer to come before they took things away, so that’s not rule of law." 
The way Lai's aide (and Next Digital executive), Mark Simon, sees it: "The goal of this raid [was] harassment and to find a way to shut down Mr. Lai’s private businesses".  And since it is "publicly known" that the tycoon had been infusing funds from his private businesses into his media company's flagship newspaper to keep it afloat, it can be surmized that “the police are looking to cut off the funding for Apple Daily".           
In recent months, advertising revenues along with sales of Hong Kong's only pro-democracy Chinese language newspaper look to have shot up.  Even so, there is a real danger that it might not be shut down at some point in the not so distant future -- thanks in no small part to the authorities actively clamping down on dissent, particularly since China imposed a security law on Hong Kong this past June 30th.  
In some ways, it can seem downright miraculous that Apple Daily has been continuing to not only operate but also publish some pretty fiery opinions.  Take, as an example, today's piece asserting that the Hong Kong government in its current state bears a striking resemblance to Vichy France.  And I certainly could see the authorities on both sides of the Hong Kong-Mainland China border taking umbrage with an article yesterday entitled Xi Jinping coughs and coughs at Shenzhen event as Carrie Lam stays away from the VIPs!
It's not for nothing, then, that a "yellow" friend of mine told me that her personal red line that, if crossed, will mean it's time for her to leave Hong Kong is if Apple Daily ceases to be published.  In turn, I told her of my using the Falun Gong's presence in Hong Kong as the canary in the coalmine and also my worries that the day is coming soon when Google, Facebook, Twitter and the like will cease to be accessible in Hong Kong (like they have been for years already over on Mainland China).  
So it's actually a bit of a relief for me to learn that pro-democrat Charles Mok managed to prevail over Junius Ho and hold on to the chairmanship of the Legislative Council's IT panel today (as reported by Citizen News' Alvin Lum on his Twitter page -- which Blogger inexplicably won't allow me to link to -- today).  And yes, I know that the remaining pro-democrats in the Legislative Council face an uphill battle to prevent the pro-Beijing camp from getting its way with pretty much everything but I still believe that they still are capable of doing some good there.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

An eventful Typhoon Signal Number 8 Day!

T1 weather yesterday

Smooth sailing before the storm

I woke up this morning to find that the Hong Kong Observatory had raised Typhoon Warning Signal Number 8 after Typhoon Nangka was deemed to have come close enough to Hong Kong to necessitate such as the suspension of classes at all day schools and trading at the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. The strange thing though is that I didn't notice any rain falling until the afternoon and the winds in my neck of the woods were so mild that my window curtains hardly moved for much of the day (despite my having left various windows in my apartment open)!

Unlike when Severe Typhoon Mangkhut visited Hong Kong back in September 2018, it really didn't seem like Typhoon Nangka posed much danger to humans or even trees. And there was much derision when reports came in that as of 11am, only six trees had been felled by it and that number had risen to just eight by 2pm, and people took to posting videos and photos on social media at various points in the day showing the (minimal) physical impact of this T8-rated typhoon.

Something else that people found hard to take entirely seriously was the news that about 100 members of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra (HKPO) have had to be quarantined after a clarinet player tested positive for the Wuhan coronavirus; and this particularly since there now has come a possibility -- however slight -- that the super unpopular Carrie Lam may need to go into quarantine, if not be infected! I think the schadenfreude with regards to the HKPO stems from the misgivings many have had of concerts featuring wind instruments being allowed to take place in the midst of a pandemic. Also, there's something rather ridiculous about a quarantine camp now being mainly filled with orchestra musicians and hotel staff (the latter as a result of the Royal Garden Hotel cluster).

As for the laughter at Carrie Lam's expense: this is the extremely highly paid Hong Kong Chief Executive who delayed her already previously postponed policy address because Xi Jinping has scheduled a visit to, and major speech in, Shenzhen for that same day. Adding insult to injury is that she -- who has been labelled a puppet as a result of this latest action-- will of course go to Shenzhen to be in Xi Jinping's presence but absolutely does not intend to raise the matter of the 12 Hong Kongers currently being held in that Mainland Chinese city with him. Also, ahead of her Shenzhen visit, she's stated that she wouldn't mind if Shenzhen's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) were to exceed Hong Kong's!

At the same time though, I still sometimes wonder whether Leung Chun Ying still might be hated more than Carrie Lam. Even though he's stepped down from being Chief Executive, he still can't stop getting into mischief and stirring things up. Witness his latest effort from earlier today: what amounts to the doxxing of 18 teachers prosecuted for pro-democracy protest-related "offences".

Still, it often is hard to see beyond the terrible things being done and proposed by the current Hong Kong administration. Take, as an example, its recently revealed move to amend the laws to allow Hong Kongers living in Mainland China to vote in Hong Kong elections. Expectedly, pro-Beijingers back the idea while pro-democrats are against it. Less expected has been the Electoral Affairs Commission having voiced its concern about this proposal; a sure sign that there's something really untoward about it. (Of course, regular Hong Kongers don't need to be told this. We just absolutely know.) 
An update: I've belatedly noticed that all the links I sought to make to Tweets aren't successful (when using the new Blogger format).  I am not removing the links I've put in to date but will stop linking to Twitter in the future.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Still more arrests in Hong Kong, and attempts to crush the people's spirit and destroy the city's soul :(

 Call it morbid but I can't think of those Hong Kongers who 
sought to flee this territory by boat whenever I'm on a boat now :S
Seemingly perennially in the news in Hong Kong these days:
the Wuhan coronavirus, oppression and dissent (the last by alumni 

Today marks the seventh Sunday since 12 Hong Kongers attempting to seek political asylum in Taiwan were apprehended by the Mainland Chinese coast guard, with what we now know was the help of the Hong Kong authorities, when they attempted to flee Hong Kong on a speedboat.  (The government has yet to officially confirm this, and probably never will; but there's ample evidence for this being the case.  Also, here's a reminder that, on the 50th day since their arrest, the loved ones of the detainees -- and the lawyers they hired -- have yet to be able to see them or get actual evidence that they are still alive and in one piece.)   

Yesterday, nine of their friends were arrested by the Hong Kong police for their role in assisting them in their attempted bid for freedom. Put another way: their alleged crimes involved doing such as funding and providing the speedboat, and providing accomodation for the 12 prior to their journey back on August 23rd.

The newly arrested nine consist of four men and five women aged between 27 and 72 years. They include Christina Tang (previously an aide to former pan-democratic lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung), a lawyer’s assistant, an administrative clerk, a salesperson and a chef.  Like the 12 arrested for illegally crossing the Hong Kong-Mainland Chinese border on their ill-fated attempt to get to Taiwan, all of them had previously been arrested for participating in anti-extradition bill protests.

Are they criminals? The Hong Kong and Mainland Chinese authorities say yes. I think though that most Hong Kongers will see them as victims, martyrs, even heroes and heroines. And the more that the authorities do to try to punish people like this, the further they get to winning the hearts and minds of the populace. Hence my often suspecting that they no longer seek to do this; and, instead, "just" are intent on crushing Hong Konger spirits and destroying the city's soul.

And even while Hong Kongers have showed remarkable fight and admirable resilience, I do find myself worrying far more than I like about how long this can be kept up.  Sadly, certain institutions appear to have fallen; notably the city's oldest and top rated university.  

In recent years, there have been signs that the University of Hong Kong (HKU) was losing its way -- including when human rights lawyer Johannes Chan's nominated for pro-vice chancellor was rejected back in September 2015.  More recently, Occupy Central co-organizer Benny Chan was sacked by the university, despite being a tenured professor, less than one month after China's security law for Hong Kong came into effect.  

Then, earlier this week, in a move suspected to be politically motivated, the university's Mainland China-born vice chancellor, Zhang Xiang, decided not to renew the contract of Japanese American public health expert, Keiji Fukuda.  To ram home the sense of how wrong this decision is, one day later came the news that the obviously highly respected Professor Fukuda had won this year's HKU Faculty Knowledge Exchange Award!  

Still, a worse act in the eyes of many was perpetuated by the university when it effected the tearing down of a campus Lennon Wall yesterday.  In reaction, lawyer-writer Antony Dapiran was moved to Tweet the following: "Appalling. Universities a bastion of free expression? No more."  Also on the same social media platform, HKU associate professor of English, Jessica R. Valdez, shared that: "I am very disappointed in my university for taking this action. This past month I went out of my way each day to reassure myself the Lennon Wall was still there 😧 sad for our students".         
It seemed particularly sad that the tearing down of the Lennon Wall at Sun Yat-sen's alma mater took place on Double Tenth, the anniversary of the Wuchang Uprising seen as the start of the 1911 Revolution which led to the end of Chinese imperial rule.  It remains to be seen whether HKU students will attempt to erect, and be successful in keeping up, another Lennon Wall on their university campus.  
All this also has me wondering: for how long more will the Tiananmen Massacre Pillar of Shame remain on the same Hong Kong university campus?  (And looking back now, it's actually amazing that the students were able to perform their annual ritual of washing this Hong Kong memorial to the 1989 massacre victims this past June 4th!)