Thursday, December 31, 2020

On the final day of a year that much of the world will be happy to see the back of

Photo taken on the final day of 2020

2020 is a year that many people all over the world will be happy to see the back of.  For much of the world, the main threat to their happiness and safety came by way of the Wuhan coronavirus.  But for Hong Kong, that wasn't the only bad -- or even worst -- thing that came from across the Hong Kong-Mainland China border.  
Don't get me wrong: the Wuhan coronavirus has adversely affected Hong Kong too.  To date, we've had a total of 8,846 confirmed cases of infection, with 68 new ones reported today.  And while this coronavirus (still) has been responsible for fewer fatalities in Hong Kong than that which brought about the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) back in 2003, which was reponsible for 299 deaths in Hong Kong, the territory has already seen 148 fatalities from this other coronavirus, including an additional one today.       

Still, when I think back to this time 2019, what has most profoundly changed Hong Kong -- and brought about so much fear, unhappiness and repression to this land -- to my mind is that whose announcement back in May I described as the Communist Chinese regime's nuclear option.  I am referring, of course, to China's national security law for Hong Kong, which was unanimously approved by China's rubber stamp congress on June 30th and came into effect one day later, on the 23rd anniversary of Hong Kong's handover to Communist China.   

So much (that's bad) has happened since that fateful day.  I'm not going to recap it here since so much of it has been documented in previous blog posts (like this one and this other).  Instead, here's bringing things up to date by reporting that yesterday saw the handing out of sentences of up to 3 years of jail time to the 10 adult members of the "Hong Kong 12"  who had been caught in Mainland Chinese waters while trying to surreptiously flee to Taiwan one dark day in August (and not been contactable by their families to date).

And on the final day of this horrible year, Hong Kong's Court of Final Appeal overturned High Court judge Alex Lee's decision last Tuesday to allow media mogul Jimmy Lai out on bail, albeit under conditions akin to house arrest. The 73-year-old advocate of democracy of Hong Kong will now return to jail until at least February, even though he has not been accused of a violent crime and is not considered a flight risk.  And, upon leaving the court this afternoon, he literally was in chains once more
Rather than dwell on that painful image and decision, here's sharing a report on judge Lee's comments as to why he made the decision that he did last week. In particular, I find it worth pointing out that: "Lee noted that for the national security offence, prosecutors had pointed to statements Lai allegedly made during an online chat arranged by Apple Daily on July 30, and during an interview he hosted on August 18.  But the judge said that rather than requests for foreign countries to impose sanctions or engage in other hostile activities against Hong Kong or China, Lai's statements seem to have been merely comments."
Put another way: if Lai is found guilty under the security law, it is for speech crimes rather than actual actions that endanger the apparently very insecure governments of Hong Kong and China.  Which begs the question of what will 2021 bring for Hong Kong from China (by way of its enablers in the Hong Kong government or more directly): prosecution for thought crimes? 
Against the odds, I still want to have some hope for Hong Kong.  This because, actually, my love for this place and its people remains so very much alive.  And, also, because I really don't want to think that the rest of the world would be so callous as to decide that it's abandonable and stupid enough to think that doing so would actually not hurt them in the long run.  

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

An eventful start to the week in Hong Kong and over in Mainland China

Restaurant shutters emblazoned with a plea 
Hong Kong is beautiful but also behind bars 
After a period of relative calm over the Christmas period, things went back to "normal" -- or, rather, what passes for normal in Hong Kong these days -- yesterday morning with the news of Lam Cheuk-ting being arrested yet again, this time for allegedly disclosing the personal information of individuals being investigated by police in relation to the July 21st, 2019, mob attacks in Yuen Long.  Apart from the ridiculousness of a victim of the attacks being accused of breaking the law for revealing details about that evening's attackers, we also have the twist this time around of  Independent Commission against Corruption (ICAC) -- rather than police -- officers doing the arresting and the irony that comes from Lam Cheuk-ting being a former ICAC investigator himself!   
Meanwhile, over on the other side of the Hong Kong-Mainland China border, Zhang Zhan, a former lawyer turned citizen journalist, was jailed for four years for "picking quarrels and provoking trouble".  Put in a very different way: she had conducted livestream reporting from Wuhan in the early days of the coronavirus outbreak there.  In other words: she had been, at great risk to herself, seeking to find out and let people know what was going on in that Mainland Chinese city. 
As was noted in The Guardian's article about her arrest, she is not the only one who has gotten into trouble with the authorities in China over her Wuhan coronavirus reportage.  "Among at least half a dozen citizen journalists targeted in Wuhan, Fang Bin, was arrested in February but his detention location remains secret. Chen Mei and Cai Wei are awaiting trial in Beijing after they were arrested in April for archiving censored information about the virus. Chen Qiushi, detained in Wuhan in February, was released to his parents’ home under close surveillance." 
As bad as things have become in Hong Kong, it ought to be realized that things have not become as bad as over in Mainland China.  Yet.  I'm not just talking about what's being done to the Uighurs.  Rather, to quote from that piece in The Guardian about Zhang Zhan once more:  

China’s notoriously opaque justice system has a conviction rate of about 99%, and often sees defendants denied full legal assistance. The last-minute trials of the Hong Kong 12 and Zhang came amid a flurry of activity by Chinese authorities, who have a history of using the holiday period, when many western governments and NGOs are on Christmas break, to run trials and make arrests.

In December alone, authorities have arrested a Bloomberg journalist, Haze Fan, on unspecified national security allegations; human rights activist, Ou Biaofen, after he publicised the case of an activist sent to a psychiatric facility; and documentary journalist Du Bin. Ou and Du were both arrested for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”.

Authorities also reportedly delayed the trial of Australian writer Yang Henjun, charged with espionage and allegedly tortured during his two years in detention. On Sunday a court refused to hear an appeal against the four-year sentence for human rights lawyer Yu Wensheng, who publicly called for constitutional reforms including multi-candidate elections.

Even while Hong Kong's judiciary is seen as having its independence being chipped away, it still is by no means a given that Hong Kong judges will act the way that the government wants it to.  To be sure, there are verdicts that go in favor of the authorities (including the denial of bail to security law suspect Ma Chun-man today and another security law suspect, teenage activist Tony Chung, being sentenced to four months in prison for unlawful assembly and desecrating the national flag also earlier in the day).  But there also are ones that are not as well as those whose verdicts don't completely please anyone: such as that at a trial yesterday which saw the judge hand in "not guilty" verdicts to six people accused of rioting but convicted one man -- who had identified himself as having been a first aider -- of the charge after noting that he had tried to run away from the police
If only the Hong Kong government had been as prompt to reverse its decision in the face of public pressure with regards to the extradition bill.  *Sigh*  Instead, we have a situation where a chief executive beholden to Beijing has done so much in the past couple of years or so to, if not (yet) outright kill her city, done so much damage to it.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Seasonal musings about the actions of a government that is not for the people as well as by and of it

 Barbecueing or even venturing into barbecue sites in country parks 
is not allowed in the time of the Wuhan coronavirus...
...but eating and sitting on benches at picnic sites is allowed; 
why this is okay but not so in barbecue sites no one seems to really know! 
Despite reports that it was going to happen, there was no announcement yesterday that any official  move has been made to disqualify some pro-democracy members of Hong Kong's overwhelmingly pro-democracy district councils.  Instead, Hong Kong's sole representative to China's National People's Congress standing committee (NPCSC) stated that Hong Kong was not on the agenda at all of its latest meeting (which took place yesterday) (even while also declining to say whether the NPCSC would discuss the district councillors' qualification in future, included at the next expected meeting in February). 
At the same time, steps have clearly been taken to hamper the work of a number of district councils and their members.  As an example, earlier this week, Yau Tsim Mong district councillor Ben Lam posted that the Home Affairs Department had refused to allow his district council to include the slogan “Hong Kong add oil” in a festive lights display on the grounds that it may “affect social harmony”.  
This government action is particularly laughable because the phrase "add oil" is allowed to be used in official capacities in Mainland China.  As a matter of fact, the first time I heard this phase being used was during the 2008 Beijing Olympics by those cheering on the Chinese Olympic team!  Sadly, it's entirely in keeping with the kind of paranoia and pettiness that saw the authorities also deny an application to have Bruce Lee's famous “Be Water” on a license plate last month; with their justification in that instance being -- without explaining how exactly -- that having those two words on a vehicle “may cause danger to the safety of any user of the road.”
On a more serious note, many Hong Kongers have additionally been perplexed by the Hong Kong government's thinking and actions with regards to combating the Wuhan coronavirus.  Among other things, it's hard to understand why the beaches seem to be so readily closed, thus far more quickly and for longer periods so than enclosed spaces such as bars, gyms and beauty salons.  Also, why do the authorities seem to target domestic helpers even while they have in no way been responsible for infections as much as, say, the dancing tai tais
In all honesty, I do reckon that Hong Kongers do want a government they can trust and respect.  Put another way: I genuinely believe that Hong Kongers are not naturally disposed to be rebellious or anti-government.  As things stand though, pollsters have consistently found that 90% of those Hong Kongers who value democracy stand opposed to the government!
One of the people in charge of the Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute (PORI)'s “We Hongkongers” project, Leung Kai-chi, posits some reasons for this being so.  The following appears to be the one that he appears to personally believe: "today’s Hong Kong government no longer cares about what the pro-democracy sector thinks, so it has no qualms about constantly introducing practices that are utterly unacceptable to them. This explanation seems to be the most consistent with what many Hong Kong people have been experiencing in recent months, as they feel that the government’s policy goes against the people when they watch the government’s press conferences every day." 
In summary: Hong Kongers don't feel that the Hong Kong government is for the people as well as know that it most definitely is not by the people and of the people.  Hmmm... I wonder what Abraham Lincoln would have thought as to how long this kind of government would last before it perished from this Earth?!    

Friday, December 25, 2020

A tension-relieving Christmas Day hike in Tai Tam Country Park (Photo-essay)

I spent a good part of last night feeling tense after seeing a Facebook post from a journalist friend signalling how upset he was and learning from another friend that the area where the Office for Safeguarding National Security is located was crawling with cops.  Scanning Twitter and other news sources, I found that the police were indeed out in force in various parts of Hong Kong and that the Department of Justice -- not content with Jimmy Lai being under de facto house arrest and having bail conditions that included the media mogul deleting his Twitter account -- had filed for an urgent hearing at Hong Kong's top court in a bid to return him to jail.
As for me: I spent a few hours of this Christmas doing what has become a festive ritual of sorts for me (as well as have found to be a great way to relieve tension and stress): hiking; this year, on my own, unlike previous ones.  With today's daily new case number at 57, I am hoping that Hong Kong's fourth Wuhan coronavirus wave will soon subside and I'll not feel obliged to socially distance so much.  Hopefully, the new tougher quarantine rulings (which includes an outright ban on anyone coming in from South Africa) announced late last night also will ensure that there won't be a fifth wave coming anytime soon even while I do feel for those Hong Kongers stranded overseas after the Hong Kong government effectively closed the territory's borders to all but residents in Mainland China and Macau...
Minutes after entering Tai Tam Country Park, I came across this 
wild boar nosing through the contents of a rubbish bin it had upended!
It was a cloudy but not all that cold day this Christmas
Visibility was less high than I'd have liked but the air
still fresh enough in the middle of the country park
Upon seeing that the main trails were more crowded
than I would have liked, I opted to go on the less well known 
trails -- and was rewarded by quiet and calm scenes :)

An unprecedented Chinese New Year flower spotting in December!
Seeing as exercise is good for relieving stress, I decided 
mid hike to add a climb up Violet Hill to today's excursion!
At this point in the hike, I already had passed one trigonometrical station
and decided I didn't need to go up to another on another of Violet Hill's peaks ;)
Near the end of what turned out to be a satisfying hike, with sightings 
of buildings that showed that I'd be returning soon to "civilization" :)

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

What passes for good news these days in Hong Kong

The scene at Edinburgh Place one year ago today
The daily new Wuhan coronavirus case numbers for Hong Kong dropped to 63 yesterday; the lowest in a month.  And today's daily number is lower by 10 at 53.  That passes for good news in the Big Lychee these days as well as fuels hopes that our fourth coronavirus wave may have peaked.
Further positive news on the pandemic front came today with the announcements that: the Hong Kong government has now procured enough coronavirus vaccines to cover the territory's entire population; and the first vaccinations may take place as early as next monthIn addition, an indemnity fund will be established to provide financial assistance to anyone who suffers from serious complications as a result of the jabs.  
Another welcome bit of news for many Hong Kongers comes in the form of Jimmy Lai having been (belatedly) granted bail after spending 20 days in jail on charges of fraud and the security law crime of "foreign collusion".  It is a measure of how bad things have become in Hong Kong though that people are breathing sighs of relief, even if not celebrating, despite unprecedentedly harsh bail conditions having been set for the pro-democracy media tycoon who Hong Kong's last British governor, Chris Patten, has designated as his "man of the year".  
In summary: Jimmy Lai's effectively under house arrest; he has to put up a cash bail of HK$10 million (~US$1.29 million) and HK$100,000 in surety; and he is barred from meeting foreign officials, accepting media interviews, publishing articles in newspapers or online platforms and or uploading posts on social media.  Oh, and he's also banned from asking foreign countries or institutions, organizations or individuals to impose sanctions or engage in other hostile activities against Hong Kong and China; and has had to surrender his passport to the authorities.
Fingers crossed that he will remain out for a time.  At the very least, the devout Catholic -- who the Pope looks to have foresaken -- ought to be able to celebrate Christmas at home with his loved ones.  Which is more than can be said, sadly enough, for a good number of other pro-democracy Hong Kongers -- some of whom remain behind bars, others of whom have left home (with one of the latest announced to have gone into exile being Tsang Chi-kin, the teenaged protestor who was shot on October 1st, 2019, by a police officer).    

It also would be lovely if the Communist Chinese authorities also would forego their inclination to drop news that will be unpopular with the West over the holiday season.  However, it really would not be a surprise if they were to pile on the misery in Hong Kong in the coming days.  Indeed, it's already being reported by the local press that Beijing is planning a crackdown on local district councillors (the vast majority of whom are members of the democratic camp) this Saturday (Boxing Day, a public holiday in Hong Kong but -- almost needless to say -- not Mainland China).    
It's a measure though of how embattled, even resigned, many people are about the continued repression that all this has now come to be seen as inevitablePeople are hoping against hope but they also aren't blind to what's going on, after all.  Among other things, each day, it seems that more and more people are bidding farewell to, and leaving, Hong KongMatthew Brooker's piece is so moving, and his writing so beautiful, that I can't not quote from it.  Here are a few passages that particular resonated:-
Now it is 2020. In this year of so much death, so many grim landmarks, the curtain has fallen with startling rapidity. I mourn for the extinguishing of an exuberantly free society that, over three decades, taught me so much: about resilience, pragmatism, humor, adaptability and optimism...

Hong Kong as an entity distinct from mainland China was the product of an act of international piracy yet became for a while perhaps the place in China that was most stable and orderly, and where people were the most free. Denied real democracy under the British and then under Beijing, it is the most democratically minded of societies. Flowers grow in compost; the darkness shows up the light...

Hong Kong will never go back to what it was, that much seems clear. Its fate will be dissolved into a larger destiny, as was always likely and perhaps inevitable. My poor adopted city. Designed for obsolescence but wanting more life, it did burn so very brightly.

Monday, December 21, 2020

A winter solstice that felt punishingly long here in Hong Kong

Old graffiti imploring people to "Never forget 
New shutter art paying tribute to Hong Kong pro-democracy 
protestors at the newest branch of Herbert Chow's Chickeeduck
For a (short) time today, I found myself cheering the Hong Kong police's successful tracking down and capture of a wanted individual.  It took "Asia's finest" (not) some 54 hours to find a 63-year-old man infected with the Wuhan coronavirus who fled from his isolation room at Queen Elizabeth Hospital on Friday evening -- but, hey, they did get their man and, in so doing, get an infectious as well as infected individual off the streets.
All too soon though, I was back to feeling less than happy with the authorities.  First, came the news that the Court of Final Appeal had ruled that the mask ban Chief Executive Carrie Lam introduced back in October of last year was constitutional, along with the colonial-era law she used to bring it in.  Coming as it does at a time when people are required to wear masks in public (to protect against the Wuhan coronavirus), this means that Hong Kong's top court has made it so that it would be illegal to wear a mask but also illegal to not wear a mask should one take part in a protest, regardless of whether said protest is authorized or not!  

Adding to the worries is that when the likes of Holmes Chan and Antony Dapiran looked at the fine print of the ruling, they saw quite a few problems with it.  One big one is that the judgement privileges one narrative about the protests over the other; and, in so doing, Hong Kong's top court is aiding in the erasure of alternative accounts and rewriting of history before our eyes.  Then there's the narrative that has been favored actually being founded on falsehoods.  For example, the Court of Final Appeal ruling mentions that acts of protestor violence in 2019 included "stopping motorists and extorting mobile phones or money by threatening to damage their vehicles"; something that I, for one, am hearing about for the very first time today -- in no large part because I am not party to pro-Beijing propaganda and misinformation.    
Another upsetting court ruling came in the afternoon when the High Court dismissed a challenge by the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) over claims that police had acted unlawfully by failing to make sure the media could carry out their duties while reporting on protests.  In the aftermath, the HKJA argued that there are deficiencies in the current mechanism for filing complaints against the police, and it is very difficult to hold officers accountable through existing channels and legal remedies.  It also stated that while journalists could not give evidence in court to back up their claims, the public can decide for themselves whether police have obstructed the media, by looking at all the footage available (some of which I am presenting here, here and here).  
Outside of the courts, there also was dismaying news that came by way of  Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan.  In addition to stating this afternoon that all existing social distancing measures – such as the restaurant dine-in ban from 6pm, and the closure of facilities such as gyms and entertainment venues – will be extended to at least January 6th, 2021, she also announced that Hong Kong will suspend flights from Britain from midnight after a more infectious coronavirus variant was found there.  And while the ruling "only" restricts arrivals from Britain, Cathay Pacific has gone ahead and announced that it is cancelling all of its passenger flights to as well as from Britain until (at least) January 10th, 2021.

One last development that I'll mention on a winter solstice that has ended up feeling plenty long: Nathan Law has revealed in an article he wrote for The Guardian that he has submitted a refugee claim to the British governmentSix months after he fled Hong Kong, he continues to speak out for Hong Kong -- from outside of Hong Kong, where he is able to speak more freely.
Among one of his messages he seeks to impart to the world is that: "For a long time too many laboured under the fantasy that China would be a strategic partner to the west, perhaps even one part of the democratic world.  The process of awakening from this illusion takes time."  The substantial time it is taking may result in Hong Kong not being able to be "saved".  But it may be thanks in no small part to Hong Kong that the world is waking up to the Chinese nightmare.  
The way Peter Dahlin sees it, this is down to Xi Jinping being far from the great leader he wants people to believe he is.  Instead: 
In handling China’s foreign relations especially, Xi has been nothing but incompetent. Domestically too, he has virtually shunned all reform, other than bolstering his grip and that of the CCP. This points to a leader who has no idea how to move the country forward.

It’s not that China’s power is not growing under Xi’s leadership, but rather that its power is growing significantly more slowly because of his leadership failures. That slowdown has in effect thrown the West a lifeline of sorts, giving it the time needed to get its act together and offer an alternative to China’s nightmarish vision of a world order.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Adding brightness and color to one's day at Sai Ying Pun's Art Lane (Photo-essay)

 “On the day-to-day, things are okay- if you avoid reading the news.”  That's what a Hong Konger told a friend living in San Francisco when the latter asked her what it's like living in Hong Kong these days.  As far as I am concerned though, I find it impossible to avoid reading the news.  In fact, I make it a point to do so at various points in the day, and from a number -- and wide variety -- of sources too (including blogs such as those at The Fragrant Harbour and The Big Lychee).  This in spite there being so many days when the bad news can feel relentless and so hard to take.
If truth be told, there are days when things can feel so bad that I don't want to get out of bed when I wake up in the morning.  At the same time, I thus far have managed to eventually force myself out of bed even when I've been in a dark mood -- and, after doing so, I find it helps a lot to get out of my apartment to do such as go meet up with a friend, have a good meal or just go for a walk in the city or hike out in the countryside.  
Earlier this week, I met up with a friend for a meal and then decided to walk for a bit before heading home.  Not too far away from the China Liason Office, in whose vicinity I've been to on a number of occasions, I stumbled into Art Lane (which actually is more than one lane). A cultural project initiated by a property developer which actually works (or, at the very least, looks pretty cool and colorful), coming across it actually helped brighten my day; this not least because it served to remind me that there's still so much of -- and to -- Hong Kong to "discover" and appreciate...
The vision that greets you on one side of one of 
the entryways to Art Lane
A very different scene on the other side of the same entryway
Even the steps are artistic canvas here :)
Ditto re pipes, not just the walls... :b
Also, in some cases, doors and door grills!
A two storey high mural

I guess it was inevitable that this space would attract
the attention of at least one film crew ;)
Continuing on a film note: it was cool to see a Hong Kong 
film icon getting represented there -- and it just had to be
Bruce Lee, despite Henderson Land being "blue"! ;b

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Justice sought and still sometimes found

A place many pro-democracy activists now have been
to more times than they care to do so 
Using their day in a Hong Kong court to cast more attention
Until this past May, I had never paid a visit to the West Kowloon Magistrates' Court.  Now the way there has become familiar and I'm even able to recognize the voice as well as face of at least one presiding magistrate.  Fortunately for me, I've only ever been there to view judicial proceedings.  Consider it one way to support people who I believe in along with our common cause.         

On this occasion, I was there to attend the hearing of eight pro-democracy activists who were arrested two Tuesdays ago (December 8th) and formally charged today with holding or organising, or inciting others to taking part in an "illegal assembly" on July 1st.  With bail having been denied to Joshua Wong, Agnes Chow and Ivan Lam when they faced similar charges, there was a genuine possibility that the same would be the case for today's eight defendants.  So it was considered a minor victory that they all were granted bail of HK$1,000 -- even though not so long ago, this would have been considered just par for the course.    
Still, after the prosecutors argued that there was high risk that some of the defendants would "do a runner" and flee Hong Kong (to go into exile), a la Ted Hui, the magistrate imposed some restrictions on the octet.  Wu Chi-wai, Eddie Chu Hoi-dick and Leung Kwok-hung (all former legislative councillors), Civil Human Rights Front convenor Figo Chan, Eastern District Council members Bull Tsang Kin-shing, Andy Chui and Chan Wing-tai, and League of Social Democrats member Tang Sai-lai have been explicitly forbidden to leave Hong Kong, had to surrender their travel documents, are to stay at their addresses and have to report to specified police stations once a week until the court reconvenes to hear this particular case on the afternoon of  February 8th of next year.

Some of the eight took their court appearance this afternoon to post reminders about "five demands, not one less" and also draw attention to the plight of the 12 Hong Kongers who tried unsuccessfully to flee to Taiwan by sea, 10 of whom were formally charged by the Mainland Chinese authorities yesterday (while the remaining two, both of whom are minors, will hear their fate at a later date).  With regards to the latter: some might say that surely those facing prosecution in Hong Kong have enough worries of their own?  Here's the thing though: as much as what's happening to Hong Kong is pretty alarming, it also is the case that things are considerably worse over in Mainland China (particularly Xinjiang and Tibet but by no means just there) as far as justice as well as freedom is concerned.       
In recent days, there have been reports indicating that more than half a million people from ethnic minority groups have been coerced into picking cotton in Xinjiang (further lending credence to arguments that modern slavery is being practiced by the Communist Chinese authorities) and China's Alibaba offering facial recognition software to clients which can identify the face of a Uighur person and consequently track individual members of this ethnic group who face wholesale persecution over in Xinjiang and associated regions of Mainland China.  While there are serious fears that Beijing wishes to turn Hong Kong into another Xinjiang, can anyone really see such things happening in this part of the world (in at least the short term)?       
Also, even while there are genuine worries that key Hong Kong sectors, including the judiciary, are becoming Mainlandized (something that's not helped by the Hong Kong government increasingly adopting "Mainland-speak" and staging oath-taking ceremonies for civil servants that look creepily authoritarian), there still are battles being won daily in court (and elsewhere).  For example, yesterday saw a social worker acquitted on the charge of obstructing police during a protest last year, with the presiding magistrate judging that the police officer who gave testimony in court was an unreliable witness.  In addition, on the previous day, another individual (presumed to be a pro-democracy protestor) was acquitted -- of charges of possessing items that could be used to "destroy or damage property" -- by a different magistrate after she, too, ruled that a police officer's testimony was untrustworthy.  
Okay, sure, the victories cited in the previous paragraph may seem on the small side.  But small things can lift up the spirit quite a bit.  And this perhaps especially when they give one the sense that there still is justice in the world, including that which could have come from on high: such as that involving the notorious Leticia Lee, who died yesterday after being infected by the Wuhan coronavirus, just four days after she went on Facebook to mock yet another Hong Konger for having gone into exile rather than face political persecution at home!