including on the evening of August 31st at Prince Edward :(
For a good part of my life, August 31st was a day of celebration on account of it being Malaysia's Merdeka (Independence) Day; with not even the death of Princess Diana back on August 31st, 1997, having left a black mark on the day as far as I was concerned. But since August 31st, 2019, this has been a day whose arrival has tended to leave me in a dark mood -- and it was the same again today, two years after the Prince Edward MTR station "incident" in Hong Kong which saw riot police running amok and terrorizing train passengers inside an MTR station that was closed off for a time afterwards to first aiders and the press as well as the general public, leading to suspicion (which persists to this day) that a number of people were killed in there by the cops.
I (thankfully) was not there inside Prince Edward MTR station during the attacks but I remember watching many video clips as well as at least one live stream. Suffice to say that I will never forget the anguished screams and cries of the train passengers (not all of whom were anti-extradition bill protestors) who had the misfortune to be pepper sprayed at pretty much point blank by the riot police -- so much so that even when I watch this video on mute, I still can hear the screams of the weaponless civilians in the clip, who include at least one medic (as can be seen by a helmet with a red cross marked on it lying on the floor in still shots that were taken of the scene). And all it takes is for me to see the numbers 8.31 for me to feel like I've gone back in time to that nightmare night of August 31st, 2019.
So, really, I don't need much to "trigger" bad memories of two years ago and generally feel upset when the annivesary of the Prince Edward MTR station attack. But today also sees Malaysia in a mess politically as well as majorly troubled by the Wuhan coronavirus -- as can be seen by the newly appointed Prime Minister, Ismail Sabri Yaakob, being in quarantine this Merdeka Day -- while Hong Kong is a place where speech therapists end up in jail for publishing children's books featuring talking sheep -- with three more General Union of Hong Kong Speech Therapists members being charged with "sedition" (one of those vague national security law crimes) yesterday in addition to the union's chairwoman, Lai Man-ling, and vice-chairwoman, Melody Yeung, who had been similarly charged and denied bail back on July 23rd.
A few days after their arrest, the Niao Collective took it upon itself to translate into English one of the union's illustrated talking sheep books. The following are some excerpts from the Twitter thread translation of The Sheep Village Defenders:
Once upon a time, there were two villages. One village lived sweet-natured sheep. The other lived evil wolves.The two villages were close to each other, but the Sheep Village had a fence which kept the wolves from entering the to harm the flock.For the longest time, shepherds led the flock. Sheep Village had clean rivers, wide pastures, and a fun park. Every day after sunrise, all the sheep would go to work, while little lambs get to play in the fun park.
Be honest, now: that's not quite what you'd have thought a publication deemed so dangerous to (mighty) China's national security that the speech therapists behind it had to be put behind bars, even prior to their trial (which is scheduled to begin in earnest in late September), and be denied bail, right? But there you have it, and the fact that this all has taken place in Hong Kong really does leave the territory and its government with a PR problem; even after the United Kingdom's Supreme Court delivered the Carrie Lam administration a PR victory last week by announcing that its president and deputy president will continue to serve as non-permanent judges of Hong Kong's Court of Final Appeal after finding the territory's judiciary to still be"largely independent”.
Amidst all this are those, like Hong Kong Free Press columnist Kent Ewing, who are of the opinion that no PR "reboot" will clean up Hong Kong's damaged international image since "millions-strong anti-government protests, police brutality and incompetent leadership don’t play well on the global stage". And as the Hong Kong resident of more than two decades also asserted, "Hong Kong was once seen as a thriving, free-wheeling, free-thinking East-West success story. Now it is increasingly viewed as a city whose creativity and independent spirit have been crushed by the heavy hand of central government authorities, who see dangerous anti-China forces everywhere they look."
In addition, there are the local thugs who aren't low enough to resort to doing such as sending threatening letters, the latest accompanied by an actual blade, to a serving district councillor. "Shut up about 831 to keep your family safe" was the message delivered along with the blade to Leung Pak-kin, who was a reporter on August 31st, 2019, and whose video of riot police pepper-spraying people in MTR train carriages in Prince Edward MTR station have been widely viewed and disseminated.
So much for "the truth will set you free". Instead, in Hong Kong today, it seems that the truth will be bent and distorted as much as possible -- witness Carrie Lam stating earlier today that there is no crackdown on civil society currently going on -- in addition to the possession of it causing more than one person to be put in danger or behind bars. (With regards to the latter: I think of Leung Pak-kin's July 21st, 2019, equivalent, Gwyneth Ho currently being in detention while awaiting the commencement of a national security trial against her and 46 other politicians and political activists who took part in a democratic primary in July of last year to determine who would run in a since and still postponed Legislative Council election!)