It's heating up in Hong Kong!
For much of this month, it's been unseasonably as well as pleasantly cool. But today saw the "very hot weather warning" issued a little after 11am and only cancelled close to 6pm; a sign that summer's arriving, if not arrived. Coincidentally, today also saw a whole load of hot air coming out of the mouths of Xi Jinping over in Beijing and Carrie Lam here in Hong Kong.
At a meeting with Chief Executive-to-be John Lee, the Chinese leader asserted that Lee's "incoming administration will “write a new chapter” for the city’s development" as well as "fully endorsed" the former police chief turned security chief. In turn, Lee was inspired to spout the following: “I am deeply honoured by the appointment and fully aware of the great responsibility upon me. I will do my utmost to live up to the expectations of the country and the people of Hong Kong... Together, we will build Hong Kong into a city with long-term prosperity and a caring and inclusive society." (See what I mean about a whole load of hot air?)
Meanwhile, here in Hong Kong, the outgoing Chief Executive had some words of her own to share. Speaking at a legal forum on the national security law (which a senior representative of a prestigious US-headquartered international law firm felt obliged to withdraw from in the wake of international criticism), Carrie Lam described the passing of the draconian law (by Beijing, not by her, remember) as the accomplishing of a "glorious mission". Hong Kong's most unpopular Chief Executive by far (to date) also "claimed, without pointing to evidence, that there were “local radicals” and “underground organisations advocating terrorism” who were still “lurking around.”
How all this was received can be summed up by this Tweet from Renauld Harccart: "The levels of disinformation here in the mouth of [Hong Kong]’s first official. Nothing different from the PRC across the border in that regard."
On the subject of disinformation: The Hong Kong government has been expressing its concern for some time now with "disinformation" and "fake news" being spread on the internet. And it looks like it'll be making its move to stem what it perceives to be "fake news" and "disinformation" sooner rather than later.
A report in The Standard yesterday had Deputy Police Commissioner Edwina Lau stating that "Hong Kong should step up regulation of internet security" and mount a "consultation on internet security law by the end of this year". Zeroing in on the comments recorded in the article that "‘Suggestions include having service operators monitor content, keep records and inspect users and report violations… Hong Kong has no room for “lying flat” as the city may become a battlefield of geo-politics’, now Taiwan-based journalist Ryan Ho Kilpatrick was moved to state that "If that sounds ominous, it’s because it is."
Meanwhile, Hong Kong-based lawyer Kevin Yam had this comment to make about the same mooted development: "Any authoritarian national security apparatus would need to justify its continued existence even after all “immediate” political dissent have been stifled. One of the ways for doing so is to grant itself ever widening powers to oppress people."
All pretty doom and gloom, right? So let's end on a positive note: The League of Social Democrats' Raphael Wong has been released from jail after serving time for extradition protest-related charges! And the man who had bravely stated as his trial last August that "I have nothing to be ashamed of and no remorse for what I did on that day” affirmed today that he's still willing to fight the good fight.
At the risk of sounding overly dramatic, Raphael Wong's stance reminds me of the following lines in Nelson Mandela's favorite poem, Invictus:
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.