Sunday, January 30, 2022

A weekend when events in Hong Kong made the international news on both Saturday and Sunday

A candle that was burning in Victoria Park on June 4th, 2016
Yesterday and today, news about Hong Kong featured on the main page of The Guardian.  To put it mildly, this helps serve up proof that Hong Kongers are living in interesting times.  Another sign of the times: earlier today, some 300 officers from the People's Liberation Army (PLA)'s Hong Kong Garrison ventured out of their barracks to gather at the Central waterfront for a Lunar New Year flag-raising ceremony.  This is not something I can recall ever happening before.  And yet, it doesn't seem to have been considered headline news by anyone and, actually, hasn't attracted all that much comment!  (It's also telling that the few comments I've seen thus far about it include ones noting that the soldiers had not been wearing any masks!)

Here's what been considered big news internationally though (and been covered by The Guardian and the BBC, among others): The University of Hong Kong following up its removal of the Pillar of Shame days before Christmas 2021 with its literally covering up another Tiananmen Square masscre memorial on its campus days before the Lunar New Year of the Tiger comes along.  And you can see how much brazen they are now about turning Hong Kong into part of the People's Republic of Amnesia by way of this latest act taking place in broad daylight rather than in the dead of night, as was the case with the removal of the Pillar of Shame.     

While we're on the subject of shame: It does no credit to Hong Kong's Legislative Council that honorable folks like Dennis Kwok (the recipient of the 5th Commonwealth Law Conference Rule of Law Award 2021) and "king of votes" Eddie Chu Hoi-dick are no longer gracing it and, instead, its members now include the likes of the Edward Leung who didn't know that Sai Wan Ho had an MTR station and Junius Ho.  And while we haven't heard much from Edward Leung (both the DAB's man and the far better known Edward Leung Ting-kei) in recent days, Junius Ho has been in the news again with some more remarks that have raised eyebrows.
While the Hong Kong government has moved to issue a clarificatory statement (in both English and Chinese) today that having an opinion favoring "living with Covid" is not a breach of the national security law, this act in and of itself is actually not all that assuring.  For, if you think about it, it looks to indicate that enough people were spooked by Junius Ho's comments for the government to feel a need to step in to clarify and try to calm things down.  And, really, if Hong Kong truly still had freedom of speech (as supposedly guaranteed under Article 27 of the Basic Law), such an action by the government would and should not be needed at all.

Friday, January 28, 2022

Pandemic woes and injustice meted out in court continue to dampen the mood in Hong Kong

Hong Kongers are trying to get in the mood for Chinese New Year
but, with less than one week to go, many are not succeeding :S
In less than a week from now, the New Year of the Tiger will come along for those who make use of a lunar calendar and observe that which is popularly known as the Chinese zodiac (but.also is known to the Japanese (even though New Year for them falls on January 1st), Vietnamese, South Koreans and a number of other Asians).  But while tiger-themed new year decorations have been hung up in many stores and malls already in Hong Kong, many people aren't feeling particularly in the mood to celebrate Chinese new year -- at least not yet.
It doesn't help matters that a number of buildings have been subject to "ambush lockdowns" seemingly nightly for much of this month -- with two overnight ones currently ongoing in Hung Hom and Tsuen Wan, and multi-day-and-night ones ongoing over in Kwai Chung.  Such is the strain that people are being subject to, particularly over in that public housing estate at the center of the largest outbreak of Hong Kong's fifth wave that a resident was motivated to go up to the rooftop of one of the blocks at Kwai Chung and attempt to commit suicide.  (It most certainly doesn't help matters that fear and paranoia has made it so that some 70 residents of Kwai Chung Estate are being barred from returning to work by their employers after the lockdowns on their buildings had been lifted.)
One positive outcome of all this is that a number of previously vaccine hesitant individuals have gone and got vaccinated in recent days -- including two of my four friends in Hong Kong who had been vaccine holdouts until now.  (With regards the two holdouts: one of them would have been willing to get the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine but she's not in the best of health and her doctor recommended that she get Sinovac, which she refuses to have in her body; while the other has multiple objections to getting vaccinated (including her being far more into homeopathy and Chinese medicine than Western medicine) but has told me that she'd feel obliged to get vaccinated if a vaccine bubble formed that would cover her workplace).
Speaking of vaccine bubbles: It was announced yesterday that "The government plans to implement a “vaccine pass” next month, requiring patrons of certain premises to have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine to enter", without any details being given as to what premises they will apply to.  While the expectation for some time has been that the "vaccine bubble" will cover restaurants, bars, gyms, cinemas and other venues that have been the subject of social distancing restrictions during the pandemic, there now are reports that the authorities are weighing requiring proof of vaccination to enter shopping malls and go on public transportation too!     
The extension of a "vaccine bubble" to include public transportation makes sense if one is thinking purely in terms of pandemic prevention.  But because of Hong Kong being the way it now is (i.e., a de facto police state), this possible move strikes me as very worrisome; this not least because over in Mainland China, such a "health code" has been used to restrict the movements of political activists

In recent days, the 47 individuals arrested back on February 28th of last year for having taken part and/or organized pro-democracy primary elections have been in court for a "committal proceeding". But their actual trial isn't due to begin until 2023 and no reporting of the primary case details is allowed until then.  A reminder: they haven't actually been provided with details as to why they have been charged with "subversion" under the national security law that China introduced to Hong Kong.  After all, having primary elections to decide who should run for election to the Legilative Council isn't actually illegal in Hong Kong.
Something else that surely isn't actually against the law is to provide medical care and assistance to people.  Yet today saw a first aider being convicted of "rioting" (in Wong Tai Sin on October 1st, 2019) along with 10 other individuals by a judge who maintained, among other things, that "no innocent person would have been at the scene, which... resembled a “mini battleground”, as protesters had thrown bricks and petrol bombs at police."  With regards to the first aider: the judge asserted that "Treating the wounds of protesters could have increased their confidence, and allowed them to carry on with their radical acts for longer"!  

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Happy 181st birthday to modern Hong Kong!

Hong Kong coins featuring a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II
One hundred and eighty one years ago today, Britain's Union Jack was raised over what was then a point of land on the northwestern coast of Hong Kong Island.  That which has come to be known as Possession Point is now an inland area due to land reclamation and it's easy to walk by it without realizing the place in history that it has.  And unlike in Australia (which commemorates the raising of the Union Jack at Sydney Cove on January 26th, 1788), January 26th is also a day that can pass by without much notice in Hong Kong since it's not a public holiday or anything like that.

This year, however, a number of exiled Hong Kong activists and politicians (among them Finn Lau and Baggio Leung) decided to bring attention to today marking the birth of "modern Hong Kong".  And when such as Promise Li took umbrage to their doing so, and decried it as "colonial nostalgia", I reckon they only succeeded in amplifying that today is indeed an anniversary of something salient to many Hong Kongers!
For the record: I'm not one of those people who wishes that the British still ruled over Hong Kong.  At the same time, I understand those folks who look back at the days before July 1st 1997 as better ones for Hong Kong than those after 1997; and this particularly so after Hong Kong effectively experienced a second, scarier Handover on June 30th, 2020.
On a not unrelated note: seeing such as the Tudor crown still atop Hong Kong's Court of Final Appeal Building, and coins and notes bearing Queen Elizabeth II's portrait continuing to be legal tender, represnts/represented for me a commitment to the "one country, two systems" principle that's supposed to (have) ensure(d) that Hong Kong would remain "largely unchanged" for 50 years after Britain "handed it over" to China in 1997.  Which is why I took some comfort for a time in seeing these colonial vestiges in Hong Kong.   

Sadly though, while those physical remnants of the British colonial era remain (including place, road and street names that are distinctly British such as Aberdeen, Stanley, Edinburgh Place and Harcourt Road), Hong Kong is a very different place from back in 1997 -- and, definitely not better in the eyes of many.  But even while there are those who've concluded that it's become just another Chinese city (especially after China imposed a national security law for Hong Kong and so many Hong Kong institutions were chipped away at, removed and/or destroyed in recent years), I still will maintain that there remains a Hong Kong which is culturally quite distinct from Mainland China.
And it is that Hong Kong whose existence makes me inclined to celebrate the founding of modern Hong Kong all those years ago.  In the words of the member of the Hong Kong Twitterverse who goes by Old China Bland (香港): "Born from a most inglorious episode of British imperial history, Hong Kong has grown into a land beloved as home for people with ancestry from across the globe. What a privilege it is to be able to say "Ngo hai Heung Gong Yan.""    

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Hong Kong's fifth coronavirus wave has arrived, close to the two year anniversary of the arrival of a Wuhan man infected with a then mystery illness!

Hong Kong's 4th vs 5th coronavirus wave chart of locally 
The following is the first paragaph of a blog entry I wrote two years and one day ago:   
A man visiting Hong Kong from Wuhan tested positive for the Wuhan coronavirus that has infected hundreds of people in Mainland China alone and now has killed seventeen people there.  He came to Hong Kong via the hated Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link which already upset people because of its co-location arrangements which gave Mainland China immigration authority on a section of Hong Kong territory and was used in the abduction of Simon Cheng last year, when the Hong Konger was working for the British consulate general in Hong Kong.
Two years and one day on, the pandemic involving the Wuhan coronavirus (which has now come to be more popularly referred to as Covid -- or, more formally, as COVID-19; which I must admit to rolling off the tongue easier than Wuhan or "novel" coronavirus) is far from over.  And, in fact, there now is little doubt that a fifth wave of it has arrived in Hong Kong after some 170 new cases were (already) discovered -- and of the Omicron variant at that -- at a single housing estate in Kwai Chung.  

For the record: Hong Kong reported 140 new Covid cases today; of which just 15 were imported.  As you may imagine, it's a shock for many in this territory since we've had just imported cases (rather than local transmissions), and often just in the single digits, for months until very recently.  An excerpt from a sample Tweet -- from artist Elizabeth Briel -- today: "OMG. Neighbors in Sham Shui Po and studio mates are terrified. Basically not going anywhere."
At the same time though, despite predictions to the contrary, I've not witnessed any panic buying in supermarkets this weekend.  (But, then, I'm one of those people who decided to stay in all day today!)  Still, as per a report by Joyce Lau this afternoon, "There’s no panic buying. The supermarket shelves are full. But people (including me) are stocking up in case our building is affected by a #covid lockdown." 
Speaking of Covid lockdowns: The latest involves one tonight at a housing estate in Tai Wo Hau.  For ther record: Hong Kong's very first "ambush lockdown" occured just one day short of two years ago.  On that day (January 24, 2021), I naively voiced my hope that it'd be Hong Kong's last as well as first "ambush lockdown".  Instead, there ended up being a total of 69 of them in Hong Kong last year and it is looking like that number could well be passed in 2020 before the end of this month (despite it just having about a week left to go!); this since the 44 counted by Nathan Hammond doesn't include the ones that are currently ongoing, including the unprecedented 5-day lockdowns of two residential blocks at Kwai Chung Estate.    

As one might expect, there are fears that Mainland Chinese-style lockdowns of entire cities will come to Hong Kong.  And it's worth bearing in mind that some of the Chinese cities subjected to lockdowns, including Wuhan (population: 13 million) and Xian (also population 13 million) have a larger population size than the Big Lychee!

At the same time, there also is a feeling that the authorities in Hong Kong may simply be too incompetent to be able to actually effect at Mainland Chinese-style lockdown in the city.  Already images have been circulating of scenes at Kwai Chung Estate that are on the chaotic side (and look like they could create further superspreader events), with garbage piling up on floors and arrangements failing to be made to supply residents in the lockdowned block with dinner last night.  (At the same time, arrangements were successfully made to have Carrie Lam go and visit Kwai Chung Estate -- though, as you can imagine, Hong Kong's most unpopular Chief Executive ever wasn't greeted with much enthusiam there!)

Meanwhile, it seems like some Hong Kong officials are starting to backpedal from the Zero Covid strategy that Hong Kong (and Mainland China) have long been pushing.  For example, we had University of Hong Kong microbiologist Yuen Kwok-yung (whose popularity has plummeted in recent weeks thanks to such as his advocating a reduction of quarantine time at Penny's Bay after government officials ended up being installed there thanks to Partygate and comments he made in relation to hamstergeddon) coming out today and stating that the ""Zero Covid" strategy itself is not sustainable, but was supposed to "buy time" for vaccination rate to increase".  
But, as pretty much every sane, intelligent person now wants to know: "If [the Zero Covid strategy] was supposed to buy time why did gov’t put so little effort into vaccine promotion compared to say the election or [national security law] promotion?"   Seriously, can you imagine how high Hong Kong's vaccine rates would be if the authorities had actually gone all out to promote and educate the public about the importance of coronavirus vaccines?  (Though, of course, one wonders how successful they would have been even if they genuinely put maximum effort into a vaccine campaign with trust and respect for the authorities being so very low.  After all, it's not like they were super successful in getting people to go out and vote at the Legislative Council "elections" last month!)

Friday, January 21, 2022

A socially distanced Hong Kong hike that helped to clear the mind and lift the spirits (Photo-essay)

It's amazing how hiking, or maybe just being out in nature, can help clear the mind and lift the spirits. After feeling upset for much of this week (thanks in no small part to hamstergeddon along with the continued persecution and emigrations), I decided to go on a midweek hike from Wan Chai Gap down to Aberdeen along a well-marked trail that, nonetheless, was on the quiet side -- so, quiet, in fact, that the sound of water flowing down hill streams found at a number of points along the trail sounded so much louder than one would expect very small waterfalls to make!
On the human side: Once I got off the paved path onto the unpaved trails, I figure I saw maybe six people, tops. (So, yeah, there really are parts of Hong Kong where social distancing is not all that difficult to enact.)  This being winter now in the Big Lychee, I didn't make any notable bug spottings either. But near the end of the hike, I saw lots of birds (kites but also crows) flying overhead -- and detected movement in the trees that turned out to be a couple of squirrels (which got me thinking once more of hamsters and their ilk -- but, fortunately, didn't completely return me to my previous black mood)!
View from Wan Chai Gap over to Aberdeen and beyond
This time around, I opted for the unpaved trail that's more
off the beaten track than the paved path that takes
In winter, about the brightest natural sights one sees
when out hiking are the red leaves
It's surprising how loud this water flowing down makes!
View from afar of one of the Aberdeen reservoirs
Way more trees than buildings and people 
in this neck of the Hong Kong woods! :)
Golden hour view towards the end of the hike
Spot the squirrel? ;b

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Hamstergeddon the day before as well as the actual day that Edward Leung Ting-kei is released from prison

TV reporter and crew at work -- undoubtedly talking about the  
hamstergeddon that the pet shop meters away is ground zero for
In the wee hours of this morning, Edward Leung Ting-kei was released from jail after having served close to four hours of the sentence he received for his part in what came to be known as the "fishball revolution" that took place over the Lunar New Year period of 2016.  In normal times, the early release of the young man who's been dubbed "the spiritual leader of the Hong Kong protests" (for his election campaign slogan, "Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times", being a much heard chant during the anti-extradition bill-turned-pro-democracy protests) would dominate the news cycle. 

To judge from this news being covered far outside Hong Kong as well as in the Big Lychee itself (and for two days straight), this came as quite the shock to many people all over the world -- and rightly so, since, as per a Reuters report, "Scientists around the world and Hong Kong health and veterinary authorities have said there was no evidence that animals play a major role in human contagion with the coronavirus".  A measure of how ridiculous many felt these actions targeting the hamsters (and their fellow pet shop creatures) are can be seen in CNN's Ivan Watson, when reporting the additional news that "The Hong Kong government wants anyone who bought a pet hamster on or after Dec[ember] 22 to surrender it to the authorities to be killed" on Twitter, feeling a need to point out that "This is not a joke".
This not being a joke was something that didn't need to be made known to the traumatized young owners of hamsters whose parents felt obliged to obey the government's call to hand over beloved pets to be killed.  A particular heartbreaking video making the social media rounds shows a young boy tearfully and loudly bidding farewell to its pet hamster, Pudding. (If you can't make it to the end: the part where the sobbing boy uses his smartphone to take final photos/videos of his obviously beloved pet is... and ya, I would dearly like to slap the parent(s) who unneccesarily subjected his/her/their child(ren) to this trauma!) 
The sense I get is that the likes of Sophia Chan from a hamster concern group -- and surely not the same Sophia Chan who is Hong Kong's health secretary! -- who "slammed the authorities' decision as unreasonable and inhumane, saying it was "genocide" that frightened every pet owner in the SAR", are speaking for the majority in Hong Kong with regards to this issue.  And the people feeling irate about this matter includes children.  A sample story from a member of the HK Twitterverse: "I explained the decision to cull hamsters to some kids. They suggested that the government should slaughter all those participants of THE BIRTHDAY PARTY"!
For those who think this much ado about nothing: the thing is that this hamster cull is being seen as a reflection of the sad state of Hong Kong today.  As a Niao Collective Tweet stated: "Don't be a dick to people who're sad about the hamsters. It's about the hamsters, but it's also about the wild boars. Which is about the wild boars, but also about a lot of other stuff."  
Back to Edward Leung: I wonder what he'll make of all this but probably will never know, since his social media accounts have been deactivated and he's declined media interviews and visits.  Soon after his leaving prison and hours before his Facebook account was deactivated, he did share that: "After four years, I want to cherish the precious time I have with my family and restore a normal life."  And, frankly, I think it's thoroughly understandable.  
The fear though is that Edward Leung remains not really free; something that's given credence by it being reported that he will be under police surveillance for some time to come.  Yet another sign that this is not the Hong Kong he knew prior to entering prison.
Adding to all this is that the number of Hong Kong's new Wuhan coronavirus cases has risen to double digits in recent days, with: 18 reported yesterday; and 16, two of them local transmissions, today.  And for the record: a total of just three (3) cases have been linked to the Little Boss pet shop in Causeway Bay to date.

Monday, January 17, 2022

A new week begins with more stories of departures from -- and jail time imposed on pro-democracy protestors in -- Hong Kong

Life and death in Hong Kong
Yet another friend announced on Facebook yesterday morning that she's left Hong Kong. The first departure of 2022, she adds to the total of eight friends who left Hong Kong in 2021 and three who left in 2020.  In the case of this friend, she and her husband actually had decided they would need to leave the city of her birth the day after China imposed a National Security Law on Hong Kong (i.e., back on July 1st, 2020 -- the 23rd anniversary of Hong Kong's handover to China by the British) but it took some time to carry out this decision.  It's not at all easy to leave one's home city, after all.
There are people who claim to not have a single friend leave Hong Kong in the past couple of years or so.  Perhaps not coincidentally, they also tend to be individuals who also claim to be politically neutral.  On the other side of the equation are people who tell of scores of friends and (former) colleagues who have departed Hong Kong, many of them with their partners and kids, and sometimes parents (too) in tow.  And a look at such as Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) withdrawals and  rising school vacancies along with British National (Overseas) (BNO) passsports confirm that Hong Kong is experiencing a population outflow.         

Among my friends who have departed from Hong Kong are individuals who had previously only ever lived in Hong Kong along with those who had done such as gone to university and/or worked in countries like Britain, Australia and the USA.  For pretty much all of them though, Hong Kong had ceased to be a place that they felt comfortable and safe in (and, in the case of those with kids, wanted their children to go to school and grow up in).  And even if they have said it in quite the same way to me, I reckon that many of them share now Taiwan-based artist Kacey Wong's feelings that "I didn't leave Hong Kong, Hong Kong left me".
And then there is the sense that things will only get worse; this even when things are pretty bad already.  And no, I really am not (just) referring to the pandemic and its attendant restrictions.  (With regards to the situation involving the Wuhan coronavirus: Hong Kong reported seven new cases today, one of them local.  This may seem like nothing, especially relative to what is being experienced in much of the world, but it is worrying that we now also have a local Delta variant case along with Omicron variants in the community.)         

The fact of the matter is though that Hong Kong's prison statistics point to a bigger problem and source of worry for many residents.  Specifically, the fact that the number of prisoners on remand (and unconvicted) has increased by over 84 percent from 2000 points to "The courts hav[ing] discarded the presumption of innocence" and, consequently, "people are being punished without trial, and not just for [national security law]".  
And when pro-democracy protestors get tried in court and sentenced upon being judged to be guilty as charged, the sense of injustice mounts at the sentences that are imposed on them.  As an example, consider the sentencing this past Saturday of nine defendants -- aged between 20 and 29 years, none of them with a criminal history previously -- to up to three years and four months in prison after being found guilty of "rioting" near the Hong Kong Polytechnic University on November 18th, 2019.    
On the subject of horrific attacks: remember that on then district councillor -- and now political prisoner -- Andrew Chiu which caused Chiu to lose part of an earThe man found guilty of that crime and others on the day, Joe Chen, is scheduled to be sentenced next month.  What's the bet that he will receive a lesser sentence than the young man who now is scheduled to spend close to eight years behind bars for attacking a police officer?      

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Continued pandemic concerns in Hong Kong, including with regards to vaccinations

Hong Kong recorded 5 new cases of the Wuhan coronvirus today, down from the previous day's 9 new cases, Thursday's 14 and Wednesday's 22.  It's also comforting to learn that today (like with Thursday, but not yesterday or Wednesday) saw zero new local cases reported.  Nonetheless, there are people who worry that we are by no means out of the woods.  E.g., epidemiologist Ben Cowling Tweeted yesterday that the "Situation now is eerily reminiscent of the start of our fourth wave, when it seemed like the outbreak was coming under control, and then it turned out it wasn't" and that "Test and trace won't break every transmission chain, even when done as well as it's done in Hong Kong".  
And the way things are going, it's also entirely possible that people can't go watch this year's edition of the tradition Chinese New Year movies in cinemas during Chinese New Year -- though let's hope not since Chinese New Year actually lasts for 15 days and the current extension of the tough covid measures that has seen cinemas being closed along with gyms, museums and a number of other facilities and venues since January 5th are due to end on the third day of Chinese New Year!
Something else that was touched on at Carrie Lam's press conference but not detailed was that the "vaccine bubble" that had previously been mooted  -- and is slated to include schools, public cultural and recreational venues, and, most importantly for many people, all restaurants -- will have its start date brought forward from the previously stated February 24th.  This is one of the rare moves by the government that I applaud; with the caveat that I actually think this is one of those things that they should have done months ago!
Earlier this week, I went and got my third shot of the mRNA vaccine most well known internationally as Pfizer but known as BioNTech and/or Cominarty here in Hong Kong.  The nurse who administered my jab told me that I was the rare person who had gone for a booster that she knew of; with her mostly seeing people getting vaccinated for the first time against the coronavirus thus far in 2022.  
Also, when I asked her whether many people were motivated to get their first shots because of the Omicron variant now being in Hong Kong, she responded in the negative.  Instead, it appears that the vast majority of people going to get vaccinated are doing so because they don't want to not be able to go out with their friends!  And while much has been made of how much yum cha means to the elderly, the nurse I was chatting with informed me that, actually, many younger folk were among the recent first time vaccinated Hong Kongers who finally felt compelled to get a jab because of the talk of the imposition of a "vaccine bubble" soon.   
The question I have now is: since the mooted "vaccine bubble"'s current requirement is just one solitary jab, are many people going to be content with getting only one jab rather than two or three?  (And this even while medical wisdom has it that three jobs are far better than two or one against Omicron.)  For the distinct feeling I'm getting is that these folks are only getting vaccinated in order to be allowed to have access to restaurants and such that will be covered by the "vaccine bubble" rather than because they actually think that the vaccines will help protect them and others from getting seriously ill, including with "long Covid", or worse.    

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Chronicle of a death foretold: Hong Kong democracy edition

Many of us who are not in prison in Hong Kong sometimes 
do feel like it's a matter of time before we all are :(
I wish I could say otherwise but the political persecution has continued in Hong Kong in recent days.  Just today alone, there's the news that activist Owen Chow -- who was one of the 47 people involved with the democratic primaries held to select opposition camp candidates for the Legislative Council arrested back on February 28th, 2021, and then one of the few (just 15 to date) subsequently released on bail -- has been arrested once more this evening.  His alleged crime(s): in official speak, "violating bail conditions and publishing remarks that endanger national security"; in reality, he posted on Facebook about the Legislative Council "election" this past December -- which, remember, he was originally in the running to run for a seat in!        
As Hong Kong's latest coronavirus cluster expands further (but still is not officially considered/described as the fifth wave), thanks in no small part to certain members of Hong Kong's political "elite", the political analyses and commentary continue to come in.  Today, we have a lengthy piece from politics professor Philip Cowley that is worth reading in its entirety; not least because it points to "the real scandal" in Hong Kong.  For those who prefer seeing just a few choice excerpts though, here's a selection:

In Hong Kong, there is anger at the behaviour of their politicians, but it is mixed with massive dollops of schadenfreude. By European standards, Hong Kong’s fifth ‘wave’ is less of a wave and more of a millpond. It has involved fewer than 50 cases thus far. In a territory of more than seven million people, one of them just happened to attend a party containing many of its most senior political figures; of all the tapas restaurants in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.

Depending on your point of view this is either a sign of how unlucky the politicos were or, and this seems to be the view taken by many of the people I speak to, it proves that that there is indeed a God. Because it is, bluntly, hugely enjoyable to see people who have inflicted such heavy-handed measures on the population hoist by their own petard like this, especially when not all of them have handled their incarceration with grace and dignity.

...[But] however enjoyable the Witman scandal is, there is a danger that it all distracts from the broader points about Hong Kong’s record of dealing with Covid.

The cautious approach that initially served it well is now crippling it. The death rate remains staggeringly low relative to the rest of the world; per capita, the UK’s death rate is 78 times higher. But this policy is becoming increasingly unsustainable, the measures required increasingly harsh. What once advertised itself as ‘Asia’s global city’ is becoming ever more isolated. Multiple travels bans are in place; even of those who can fly in, most have to spend three weeks in quarantine. Hong Kong’s airport is now a ghost town, save for the families leaving. The goal of reopening the border with the mainland — which Lam and others see as their priority — appears no closer to fruition either.
...The inter-generational tensions caused by Covid are evident all around the globe, with the young, mostly safe, forced to undergo restrictions to protect the more elderly. But nowhere is this issue starker than in Hong Kong, where the youngest are again being punished to protect an elderly population that has done next to nothing to protect themselves — and by a government that has also done next to nothing to make them protect themselves. This, rather than a piss-up in a tapas restaurant, is the real scandal.
 And if all this wasn't enough: today also saw Carrie Lam announce that Hong Kong will create a host of new national security crimes -- and no, I am not kidding though I very much wish I was!  More specifically, Carrie Lam confirmed that her government would create new "local legislation" that meets Article 23 of Hong Kong's mini-constitution, which calls for the city to pass its own national security laws in addition to the Chinese one imposed on Hong Kong on June 30th, 2020.

Interestingly, Lam did not outline what these new security law crimes would be.  "But the specific offences Article 23 lists are treason, secession, sedition, subversion and theft of state secrets.  It also includes prohibiting any foreign political organisations from conducting activities in Hong Kong or local political organisations establishing ties with similar overseas bodies."
If truth be told, the threat to pass Article 23 has been there for a long time.  A reminder: opposition to Article 23 is what got hundreds of thousands of Hong Kongers out protesting on the streets back in 2003Back then, the Hong Kong government backed down.  The chances that Carrie Lam's administration will listen to the people, however, are pretty much nil.  And "[o]nce the Article 23 legislation is implemented it will complete the cycle of what was once a free liberal society and turning it into an authoritarian one," former legislative councillor Dennis Kwok has warned. :(