Photo and messages from late 2014
from December 2019
Twenty-one of the 47 democrats who have been charged under the national security law learnt yesterday that they will remain in custody after chief magistrate Victor So either denied bail for them once again or they withdrew their applications, presumably after deciding that he was not going to change his mind one week on after making the judgements that he did two Thursdays ago. Lest we forget, those 21 democrats include the likes of former legislative councillors Claudia Mo and "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung, former Civil Human Rights Front convenor Jimmy Sham and Umbrella Movement student leader Lester Shum -- people who would fit the bill of idealists who would have been allowed to flourish in a kinder, better Hong Kong.
Another reminder: "Defendants who fail to secure bail could be held in custody for months awaiting trial. The national security law, which authorises a maximum punishment of life imprisonment, sets tougher conditions for bail than in regular criminal cases".
Today, attention shifted from the West Kowloon Magistrates Court in Sham Shui Po over to the High Court at Admiralty, where Madame Justice Esther Toh continued with her assessments of which of the 11 of the 47 granted bail by chief magistrate Victor So did indeed deserve to be let out of jail prior to the actual judgement being made as to whether or not they are guilty as charged. On Thursday, the judge had ruled in favor of ex-legislative councillor Helena Wong (though not Yuen Long district councillor Ng Kin-wai) on Thursday So I was hoping that she would her rule similarly with regards to Helena Wong's ex-legislative colleagues, Dr. Kwok Ka-ki and Jeremy Tam today.
It thus was a shock that this was not the case. And while it was a welcome surprise that the three others of the 47 who had bail hearings today, district councillors, Tat Cheng, Michael Pang and Ricky Or, had their bail terms accepted, I can't say that I'm super happy; this not least since, if the majority of the 47 are having problems getting out on bail, the signs are pointing to the majority -- if not all -- of them going to be found guilty of violating China's security law for Hong Kong despite all their having actually done having been to organize or take part in democratic primaries for an election that ended up being postponed and may well end up being cancelled altogether!
Even before the trial of the 47 actually begins, it's already being described as "the court case that marked Hong Kong's fall". At the same time though, there seems to be much less open discussion about it among many Hong Kongers than, say, the news involving the Hong Kong 12 -- and, even now, I see more "Save 12" signs than ones urging for the Democracy 47 to be freed. I hope this is not a sign of people having become numb to political persecution in Hong Kong or even having downright given up. I also hope that people won't only act when it's too late to save the Democracy 47 as well as others.
Because, sooner or later, those who think they won't be affected by the security law and political persecutions will be too. Just like those people who thought they were too elite to get infected by the Wuhan coronavirus. Exhibit A: the dance cluster responsible for starting Hong Kong's fourth wave. Exhibit B: the gym cluster that either has given new life to the fourth wave or begun a fifth wave (Hong Kong reported 47 new coronavirus cases today; with the gym cluster now standing involving 99 infected people) -- and involves lots of people in the financial sector, whose children attend international schools, and who reside in places such as the Mid-Levels.
Earlier today, Hong Kong was treated to the unusual sight of a mobile testing center having been set up in Edinburgh Place and people who wouldn't consider themselves to be regular hoi polloi forming long lines there. And this evening, an "ambush lockdown" is taking place -- not in, say, the lower income neighborhoods of Jordan, Yau Ma Tei and Sham Shui Po but the considerably higher income-level Mid-Levels!
If truth be told, a good number of people are watching events this evening with a sense of schadenfreude as the residents of this area have tended to feel, and act, like they are removed from much of what goes on in other parts of Hong Kong. Comments and observations on Twitter tonight include such as: "Citizen reporters Egg Egg Club joking that the government have listened to demands for lockdown ambushes in Mid-Levels to balance out those in low-income districts"!
For the record, back in January, reactions to lockdowns in other parts of Hong Kong included such as "Remember the mid-levels lockdown when the tai-tais got Covid? No. Because that didn't happen." It may have come two months late but, hey, it's finally happened!