Tuesday, February 28, 2023

On the eve of Hong Kong's mask mandate coming to an end and the second anniversary of the arrest of 47 Hong Kong democrats

On the final day that Hong Kong's mask mandate is in effect

Speaking of Joshua Wong: today is the second anniversary of his arrest along with 46 other people who took part in and/or organised the democratic primaries of July 12th, 2020AFP's Xinqi Su has a thread on Twitter about this that includes a reminder that today is day 16 of their trial, which is scheduled to go on for 90 days (a mere drop in the bucket in time compared to the 2 years the majority of the defendants have already spent behind bars) and, also, pertinent queries as to whether the "conspiracies" that the defendants are accused of taking part in are unlawful at all.  
Two years on from their arrest and being put behind bars (despite not having been found guilty of their alleged national security law crimes), I think it's also worth reminding people that those currently behind bars include journalist turned political activist Gwyneth Ho, British Airways staffer turned trade unionist Carol Ng, nurse-union head Winnie Yu, former journalist and legislative councillor Claudia Mo, and former district councillor Tiffany Yuen.  By the way, some 19.7% of Hong Kong's prisoners are female -- and their ranks (and those of Hong Kong political prisoners) also include the likes of lawyer and human rights activist Chow Hang-tung, and Apple Daily's deputy-chief editor Chan Pui-man (the latter of whom also happens to be the wife of Stand News' Chung Pui-kuen).
As I've long maintained, in a just and better world, these folks wouldn't only be free but also among Hong Kong's leaders and chief influencers.  That this is not the case is a tragedy as well as speaks ill of Hong Kong's state of affairs -- and no amount of propaganda from the authorities can mask this fact.

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Hong Kong is sadly not without its share of ugliness in the national security law era

A no longer uncommon occurence in national security law era 
Hong Kong: people (dressed in black and/or on the young side
being stopped and having their ID checked by the police)
In my previous blog entry, I mentioned how much I still really f**king love Hong Kong and find much of it to be really beautiful.  This doesn't mean though that I am blind to the ugliness that's become part and parcel of national security law era Hong Kong. 
Even before I got back to the Big Lychee, the police state aspect of the regime currently installed here appeared to rear its ugly head.  And no, I'm not talking about people boarding a flight to the city being required to take a rapid antigen test (RAT) still (though, interestingly enough, no one seemed interested in seeing my photo evidence of my negative result!). 
Rather, for the first time ever, I observed at least one passenger on my Cathay Pacific flight (back) to Hong Kong -- or more, since the airline's staff told me that this is now the case for some 5 percent of their passengers -- being called to the counter at the gate for an additional passport check on top of  the same travel document being looked at at the check-in counter and again while passengers are in a queue to board the plane.  
And although the airline staff informed me that this was a Cathay Pacific requirement rather than one made by either the Hong Kong government or that of the government of the country that I was in, I can't help but wonder if this has to do with China's national security law for Hong Kong, which the regime has stated is extra-territorial.  
Then, when one deplanes at Hong Kong International Airport, one is greeted by a row of customs officials and security types who look like they're waiting to make some arrests -- NOT a welcome sight, I assure you!  And something I'm sure that many tourists (Hello Hong Kong!) along with returning residents who have not travelled outside Hong Kong for a time expect nor want to see.

Something else that I think many tourists to Hong Kong are not prepared to see -- and which many Hong Kong residents (continue to) find disturbing as well as sad -- is the now fairly regular stopping and searching of individuals (be they because they are dressed in black, on the young side, or a darker skin color than the majority of the populace).  And for the record: this happens all over the territory; on Hong Kong Island, Kowloonside and the New Territories; and during the day as well as at night. 
And then, of course, we have the continuing political persecution and prosecution -- including in the courts themselves. Currently, there are two high profile trials going on. The one that's caught more international attention involves the national security law trial involving 47 participants and organizers of pro-democratic primaries for the Legislative Council Election. (Note that that Election was subsequently postponed by a year (due to Covid, officially), at which point no pro-democracy candidates ended up taking part in -- thanks to the bulk of the Hong Kong pro-democracy politicians having been behind bars by then.)
There's also the sedition trial involving former chief editors of the now defunct independent/pro-democracy media outlet, Stand News, "which began last October and was supposed to last 20 days, will continue until the end of March, the court has heard".  Already, there have been many ridiculous moves on the part of the Department of Justice, whose lead prosecutor for the case, Laura Ng, has shown herself to be quite the... idiot. Take the exchange that occured in court on Friday (and was reported by the Hong Kong Free Press) as just one example: 
Ng "asked [former chief editor] Chung [Pui-kuen] why Stand News featured a segment labelled “Hong Kong Independent Bookstores” – the Chinese characters of which were the same as “Hong Kong Independence Bookstore.”
“Was there any special meaning in it?” Ng asked.
Chung paused for a moment before telling her that the term referred to bookshops which were not part of a franchise. He said that Stand News had invited independent bookstores to recommend books to its readers.
“Oh…maybe I saw ‘Hong Kong Independence’ and thought too much into it,” Ng said, before moving on to the next article"!!!!!
More than by the way, Chung Pui-kuen's comments in court have been exemplary, particular those that explain what journalists do and press freedom is supposed to mean/entail/involve. Laura Ng, on the other hand, shows that the best brains in Hong Kong most definitely do not belong to those who choose to work for Hong Kong's Department of Justice. 
And yet, the Department of Justice will probably win the case; thanks to the judges being handpicked by the authorities and the trial being jury-less (since the authorities don't seem to trust that ordinary folks/the peers of the accused will find them guilty).  Something of note: to date, every national security law and sedition trial presided over by designated (think hand-picked) national security judges in recent years has been ruled in favor of the proesecution.  
Still, never say never.  As the proverbial "they" have advised: Prepare for the worst but hope for the best.  And yes, Hong Kongers are still hoping, against the odds.  We persist.    

Friday, February 24, 2023

Hong Kong is beautiful from the air (Photo-essay)

I spent some time away from Hong Kong recently.  Up until the pandemic, I regularly travelled out of Hong Kong between three to four times a year.  But this was the first time I did so in around three and half years; with the previous time prior to this being back a trip to Japan back in October 2019.  
I know many Hong Kongers' first destination once international travel became a thing again recently was Japan.  But this wasn't the case with me.  And neither was this first trip primarily motivated by an urge to be on foreign soil for fun once more.  Rather, there were certain things I needed to get done that involved having to spend some time in another part of the world.  So off I went; with some reluctance -- and, if truth be told, some (probably) irrational fear that I'd get stopped by immigration officials when going out or prevented somehow from returning!    

As it turned out, I ended up having a good as well as productive time these past couple of weeks or so.  But it also is good to be back in a Hong Kong which, while it most certainly has its problems, including continued political repression, is the part of the world I truly feel most psychologically connected to still.  This feeling was hammered home as the plane I was on made its descent into Hong Kong air space and I (and my fellow passengers) were treated to the kind of views that affirmed my sense that Hong Kong is really beautiful, and I really f**king love this indelible city:   

When I saw the Po Toi Islands (which include Hong Kong's
southern most island), I swear I felt my heart flutter!
My feeling that I really do know Hong Kong was
strenghtened with my being able to easily identify
sections of the territory while being miles above it! :)
Here's taking the opportunity once more to say that 
I really love Hong Kong's mix of urban and rural scapes
It was interesting to see the aircraft take a route that saw it 
go from southern up to eastern Hong Kong (including over 
the Sai Kung Peninsula) before veering west over to Lantau
Flying over Sha Tin, whose very recognisable landmarks
include the Sha Tin River and racecourse
and surrounding green hills
The grayest of my photos but I still have to include
it thanks to Lion Rock being in the frame!
I know the current regime is trying but I still do feel -- and hope 
I'm right -- that it's really hard to majorly ruin Hong Kong

Thursday, February 9, 2023

Sights seen while walking along the Central harbourfront that I gave metaphorical meaning to (Photo-essay)

After lunch yesterday afternoon, I walked on the Victoria Harbourfront from Central to Tin Hau.  Regular readers of this blog will know that I do so fairly often (on both sides of the harbour, in fact), and generally enjoy the experience.  And I did so again for some of the time yesterday -- but what I'd like to focus on this time around is less my experience of how beautiful Hong Kong is but also coming across sights in Central that caused me to ponder about Hong Kong's current situation and got me thinking of metaphors for it! 
As the proverbial "they" say, a picture says a thousand words.  And maybe the photos that follow might well be able communicate more than I ever can in words about what's going in this place, and my feelings about it:
At Central, I came across what I initially thought was 
a film crew at work...
...but on further thought, they might be among those 
who've been charged with making promotional/propaganda 
One gets the distinct feeling that the authorities are desperate 
to reassert Hong Kong's "Asia's World City" status... but I'm not 
sure how many people are actually seeing, hearing 
and agreeing with that assertion these days!
The gray skies overhead emphasised the gloomy outlook
...But wait, I also did see some light trying to break through
(along with the sun, which resembled the moon in the sky at times)!
With more light and less darkess, Hong Kong really does
look (more) beautiful! :)
One more point for you to ponder: the People's Liberation Army 
has -- and its CCP masters have -- been 
ensconced in Hong Kong since July 1st, 1997...
But even now, yellow flowers bloom in Hong Kong...
 (And yes, I'm reading metaphors into this!)

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

On the third anniversary of the death of Dr Li Wenliang and the second day of Hong Kong's largest national security law trial

Lady Justice is usually portrayed as blindfolded;
justice being blind is supposed to be a good thing, not bad
Today is the third anniversary of the death of Dr Li Wenliang, the Covid whistleblower who died from a then mysterious virus he had tried to warn others about.  In late December 2020, the Wuhan opthamologist told fellow doctors in a group chat about a new pathogen he had been hearing about. He was soon summoned by the local authorities, who accused him of making "false comments" and "disturbing the social order," and forced him to sign a statement agreeing to keep silent.
"Li later shared the statement online: "We solemnly warn you: If you keep being stubborn, with such impertinence, and continue this illegal activity, you will be brought to justice—is that understood?""  With the implicit insinuation being that "justice" meant "punishment" for the likes of him.
As a Deutsche Welle (DW) piece from February 2020 noted: Li Wenliang "was not a dissident. He wasn't even political. He was simply a doctor doing his job. But as he became more ill, he began to speak more openly, even granting an interview to The New York Times." And: "Just days before he died, Li said from his hospital bed: "I think there should be more than one voice in a healthy society, and I don't approve of using public power for excessive interference.”"  Something that I think many of us would totally agree with.
Today is also the second day of Hong Kong's largest national security law trial; of which there has been much coverage in the international media (e.g., CNN, Al Jazeera, the New York Times, Nikkei Asia and The Guardian).  There are 47 defendants: all of whom were arrested and charged close to two years ago on February 28th, 2021; and most of whom have been denied bail and held behind bars all this time.
"Joshua Wong, Benny Tsai, Claudia Mo, Au Nok-hin, Ray Chan, Tat Cheng, Sam Cheung, Andrew Chiu, Owen Chow, Eddie Chu, Andy Chui, Ben Chung, Gary Fan, Frankie Fung, Kalvin Ho, Gwyneth Ho, Kwok Ka-ki, Lam Cheuk-ting, Mike Lam, Nathan Lau, Lawrence Lau, Ventus Lau, Shun Lee, Fergus Leung, Leung Kwok-hung, Kinda Li, Hendrick Lui, Gordon Ng, Ng Kin-wai, Carol Ng, Ricky Or, Michael Pang, Jimmy Sham, Lester Shum, Sze Tak-loy, Roy Tam, Jeremy Tam, Tam Tak-chi, Andrew Wan, Prince Wong, Henry Wong, Helena Wong, Wu Chi-wai, Alvin Yeung, Clarisse Yeung, Winnie Yu, Tiffany Yuen.
"These are the names of all 47 people appearing in court today in Hong Kong. Remember their names. They are all people with families, people who had dreams and ambitions that were curtailed as Hong Kong went from being one of Asia’s most liberal cities to a tightly controlled state in just a matter of years. Amongst them are former politicians, democracy leaders, scholars, health care workers, even a disability activist. These people are the best of us and we could be them tomorrow. Rights are fragile – their examples are case in point."
Jemimah Steinfeld, Editor-in-chief of Index on Censorship magazine, let rip in a piece out yesterday entitled Hong Kong's travesty of a show trial begins. She also was moved to Tweet this as context: "Lots of tempered wording in the coverage of the #HongKong47 trial, but I couldn't contain my fury at it all." The following are a few more paragraphs from the piece: 
The 47 are accused of “conspiracy to commit subversion” over the holding of unofficial pre-election primaries in July 2020. The primaries aimed to select the strongest candidates among Hong Kong’s then robust pro-democracy movement to run against the CCP-aligned parties. Until then, unofficial primary polls had been a common feature in Hong Kong political landscape, but in the wake of the draconian National Security Law which was passed at the end of June that year, Beijing labelled the democracy camp’s event illegal. In dawn raids on 6 January 2021, the organisers, candidates and campaigners were arrested. Many have been in jail since, denied bail.
The Hong Kong government labels them dangerous criminals and for that they could be behind bars for anything from three years to their whole lives. They are anything but.
The trial is a sham. There is no jury, going against a long tradition in Hong Kong’s legal system, which was established in line with British common law. The judges are handpicked by Beijing. There are reports that some who are taking up the 39 seats reserved for the public in the main courtroom don’t even know who is on trial.
Re the last: indeed. Not only that but many, if not all, of those folks waiting in line to take those precious limited seats are being paid to do so -- or, at the very least, expecting to be paid for their efforts.  The Hong Kong Free Press' editor-in-chief, Tom Grundy, Tweeted yesterday afternoon that: "One court goer approached journalists (including @HKFP's) outside the courthouse asking where she could pick up payment... Emilia Wong, [the legally-trained] partner of a defendant [Ventus Lau], said: “It is obvious that someone is trying to stop the general public from observing the case.""
And today, according to at least one report, "[a m]an said he received HK$1500 for queuing, taking the ticket for the seat and leaving the court before court starts - blocking others from using the seat. He also said he brought friends to queue to get HK$1000 each".  Something which I don't only find disgusting but reckon helps to explain why many pro-government/Beijing folks are unable to believe that millions of people voluntarily took part in pro-democracy protests (in the hot sun, rain, braving tear gas, pepper spray, etc. in the process) without getting paid! 
Returning to the subject of the trial proper, here's sharing two more statements from Jemimah Steinfeld: "The 47 are walking into court with their guilt presumed"; and "This is a show trial masquerading as justice. It is a joke."  But one that will have few people laughing, especially over here in Hong Kong.  

As the blogger behind the Big Lychee was moved to sum up in his blog post today: "In short, the trial is likely to reflect badly on a city trying to convince the world it is free and open. To Hongkongers, the dissonance or contradiction between the political prosecutions and jailings and the Hello Hong Kong tourism campaign is both absurd and tragic. But not too puzzling if you can grasp the new-look ‘One Country, Two Systems’ model: Beijing is in charge of this stuff, leaving Hong Kong officials to flail helplessly doing that stuff."

Sunday, February 5, 2023

Looking at (a video about) people who have chosen to stay in Hong Kong

Wishing readers of this blog "All the best" on 
I've spent the 15th day of Chinese New Year in a not particularly festive manner; including doing such as viewing a CNA documentary entitled Changed Lives in Hong Kong: Why Have They Chosen To Stay? Year of Ren Yin.  Produced by the same team that previously made a video entitled One Way Ticket Out: A Family's Journey, about Hong Kong’s great national security law-era exodus, this circa 45 minute video profiles four people who have chosen to stay rather than leave.  (Something worth noting: some 7.29 million people remain in Hong Kong.  The majority, rather than minority, in fact.)
I have a few quibbles with this CNA video, including: its description of the pro-democracy protests that began in 2019 having begun on June 12th, 2019, rather than an earlier date (say, late March; and talk of all Covid rules and regulations having been lifted as of December 2022.  Re the latter:  Actually, they have not all been lifted.  Even in February, I can say one word to disprove this: masks.  Also, it seems to imply that 2022, "the year of Ren Yin", has been Hong Kong's worst in a while.  But I feel like 2022 was just another terrible year after 2019, 2020 and 2021.  And I have little confidence that 2023 is going to be that much better. 
Still, the overall presentation is watchable, thoughtful and thought-provoking; and I must say that I do like the choice of quartet of people to focus on: two local born Hong Kongers; one Mainland Chinese transplant; and one Japanese expatriate.  This is not least because it offers up some diversity of experiences that is quite representative of that whose government likes to think of it as Asia's World City but actually is more of an East Asian city than anything else (including "just another Chinese city").
Ronson Chan is the chairperson of the city's largest journalist group, the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA).  He formerly worked for Apple Daily and Stand News, both of which no longer exist.  Midway through the filming of this documentary, he gets arrested -- but he is released and is (even) allowed to leave Hong Kong for a time to take part in a program at Oxford University.  
But even though some people, including his wife(!), urge him to stay abroad permanently, he is adamant that he wants to return to Hong Kong -- to do such as bear witness to what's happening to his home city.  He says of Hong Kong: "It's like the girl's not into you anymore but you still long for the sight of her".  It's pretty obvious from what he says, and his actions too, that this is a man who really f**king loves Hong Kong.  He knows that "It's not rational", but it is what it is.      
Stanley Lai is a photographer turned taxi driver.  He's had friends leave but he seems unwilling to do so himself.  Even though times are rough, and he finds it difficult to make a living.  He's not specifically asked, so doesn't explicitly state his reasons for staying.  My sense from the video is that he's one of those Hong Kongers who would not be comfortable anywhere simply because Hong Kong has been his whole world all of his life.  And for all the talk of Hong Kong being an international city, the fact of the matter is that there are many more people like him here than folks who have spent time elsewhere as well as here.
In contrast, Japanese bartender-bar owner Masahiko Endo has spent more time outside of Hong Kong than in it.  And yet, he's elected to stay.  This even with/after his wife, a fellow bartender by profession who lived and worked in Hong Kong for a time with him, returned to Japan one and a half years ago.  "Hong Kong has given a lot," he told the interviewer (Wei Du), "It's given me a stage to show my true skills".  It's been a place for him where, "I don't need to hide" -- unlike as would be the case, for whatever reason, in his native Japan.
I personally know Japanese people who've spent years here in Hong Kong but never considered it home nor feel that they owe it anything.  Somehow, Endo-san seems to feel differently.  I'm not sure for how long more he'll stay in Hong Kong.  But having endured through the times where bars were closed and he couldn't work as a result of pandemic restrictions, it sounds like he'll stay for a time.
The segments involving Ronson Chan and Stanley Lai are primarily in Cantonese; the ones with Endo-san mainly in English (with a bit of Japanese when he speaks to his wife -- over the phone -- or Japanese friends in Hong Kong; one of whom I personally know has since returned to Japan).  In contrast, three languages -- Mandarin, Cantonese and English -- are used in the segment involving Suki Liu, a Mainland Chinese insurance agent who came to Hong Kong for graduate studies and has stayed (like a Mainland Chinese-born friend of mine).

Also, like my friend, Suki Liu speaks in Cantonese, not Mandarin, with her parents -- who still live in Mainland China (though she can be seen in the video trying to persuade them to move to Hong Kong).  And the sense one gets is that she actually loves being in Hong Kong more because Hong Kong offers her more professional opportunities but, also, to be herself.  A reminder that even as many people leave Hong Kong because they feel it has become less free, there are others for whom it is freer than their homelands.

On the subject of freedom and restrictions: it's worth noting that the principal interviewer in this documentary, Wei Du, is a Mainland China-born journalist who used to be based in Hong Kong but currently "travels in the region to cover major news events and produce feature stories."  She also happens to be the wife of Tim Owen, the British barrister who's been barred from representing Jimmy Lai -- and even barred for a time from entering Hong Kong.  So it's kind of ironic that she's involved in making a documentary about Hong Kongers in Hong Kong, eh?!

Friday, February 3, 2023

Hello to a Hong Kong that's slipped down to 88th in the Economist Intelligence Unit's Democracy Index

Hong Kong is really beautiful -- but is not without its problems;
and, in all honesty, I'm not sure it's currently a place which
many tourists will truly be able to get to know and thoroughly enjoy
In a (desperate) bid to attract tourists to Hong Kong, the Hong Kong government announced yesterday that it will offer 500,000 visitors free air tickets to Hong Kong from next month on. "“I will personally carry the promotional messages of our proudest [sic.] as the world's freest economy and China's international financial center when I visit Saudi Arabia and the UAE in the coming week,” Chief Executive John Lee also was reported as saying (in a piece in The Standard).
As the official launch of the "Hello Hong Kong" campaign yesterday, unmasked performers danced and a super cringey promotional video featuring John Lee was played (which I will spare you the pain of viewing by NOT linking to it).  The "[a]uthorities also played a promotional video featuring famous celebrities, including Aaron Kwok Fu-shing, Sammi Cheng Sau-man, and Kelly Chen Wai-lam, saying hello to tourists and calling on them to come visit" that some critics have likened to Chinese propaganda videos featuring dancing Uyghurs.
Note to people thinking of visiting Hong Kong: many Hong Kongers -- for a number of reasons, including our preferring the city's streets to be relatively uncrowded and unclogged like they have been during the pandemic -- will be less welcoming of tourists than those folks who, let's face it, have been paid to try to lure tourists to the city.  Potential visitors would also do well to realize that it was reported yesterday afternoon too that "Hong Kong has slipped three positions in the Economist Intelligence Unit's Democracy Index, falling to 88th out of 167 countries and territories."  Its ranking and "overall score of 5.28 out of 10 [is] an all-time low since 2006", the first year that the Democracy Index was compiled. 
So... who will want to respond to the government's "Hello Hong Kong"?  Definitely not those living outside of Hong Kong who (still/nonetheless) really f**king love Hong Kong; this not least because they fear getting arrested upon their arrival/return (or, at the very least, being barred from entering the city -- like has happened to such as Human Rights Watch founder, Kenneth Roth, back in January 2020).

As human rights activist Xun-ling Au Tweeted in response to a suggestion that people consider visiting Hong Kong: "Reminder that the [national security law (NSL)] is both retroactive and extraterritorial.  Sooo nah."   And should anyone need further reminders of how draconian it is, consider the case of the 47 democratic politicians and activists arrested back on February 28th, 2021, for having participated in and/or organised the democratic primaries that took place in July 2020.  

Their national security law trial is set to finally commence on Monday (February 6th), close to two years after their arrest and getting charged with trying to topple the  government.  In these two years, the majority of the defendants (who include Joshua Wong, Gwyneth Ho and Lee Cheuk-yan -- three of the six Hongkongers that the Congressional-Executive Commission on China have nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize) have been denied bail -- and thus been behind bars.
As per an AFP report: "The proceedings are expected to last more than four months, and the defendants face sentences of up to life imprisonment if convicted."  Also reported in the article is this: "The defendants say they have been targeted for normal opposition politics, with observers saying the trial illustrates how little room there is left to criticise China's rule since huge pro-democracy protests in 2019 were stamped out".  And this too: "China says the law was needed to curb political unrest, but rights groups and Hong Kong opposition figures say an ensuing crackdown has all but ended the city's autonomy and political freedoms."
A couple of other things worth noting: This trial -- like all of the national security trials that have taken place in Hong Kong to date -- is a jury-less trial.  Instead, it will be decided by the judges.  And is noted in the AFP report:  "Judges who sit on national security cases are handpicked by the city's leader and there has not yet been a trial in front of a jury.  In December, Beijing said Hong Kong's leader could also bar foreign lawyers from taking part in national security trials."  
Put another way: the odds are very much stacked in favour of the prosecutors and it also not a case of "Innocent until proven guilty" in the new Hong Kong that I cannot, in good conscience, tell people is a great place to visit and have a fun time.  This even though I really do think that Hong Kong is very beautiful and I have come to really  f**king love this place so very much. :S

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Trying to stay hopeful in a Hong Kong with too many political prisoners, and where lawfare continues to be waged against those seeking justice

An exhibition that serves up good reminders and hope
As life returns to "normal" after the break that the first few days of the New Year of the Rabbit gave to Hong Kongers, the wheels of injustice have returned to grinding tortuously as well as slowly. Yesterday came news of a 68-year-old woman being sent to prison for 3 months for "seditious remarks" made against a magistrate (which, if you looked closely at the charge sheet, included her clapping (presumably sarcastically) in court!). 
After withdrawing an appeal against her conviction, Chu Mei-ying appeared in front of Judge Anna Lai at the High Court yesterday.  "Before [her] court hearing began, over 30 people gathered outside the courtroom, with many hugging Chiu. With help from her daughter, the 68-year-old removed the shoelaces from her shoes outside the courtroom to prepare herself for prison."
I don't know about you but my heart ached upon reading about this.  I also got to recalling that in a video made by the now defunct Stand News about how the 47 participants and organisers arrested for taking part in the 2020 pro-democratic primaries back on February 28th, 2020 (the majority of whom have remained behind bars after not being granted bail all this time) had spent their last full day of freedom before going to prison.  This is because one of them, Lee Chi-yung, had spent time buying a new pair of shoes without laces -- since, as the Hong Kong Free Press article about Chu Mei-ying noted, "People going into custody must remove items that could be used to harm themselves or others, including belts and shoelaces."
Also reported yesterday was that an even older pro-democracy supporter, 77-year-old activist Chan Ki-kau (AKA Grandpa Chan of the Protect Our Kids group), having been ordered to pay the Hong Kong government HK$510,000 after his attempt to mounta legal challenge against the police over their display of identification during the 2019 protests was dismissed by the court . Further confirmation that lawfare is being waged against older pro-democracy folks in Hong Kong, not "just" the young. 
As per a Hong Kong Free Press report: "The 77-year-old filed the initial challenge in June 2019 and alleged that it was “unlawful and/or unconstitutional” for the police Special Tactical Contingent (STC), also known as “raptors,” not to display their unique identification numbers during operations on June 12, 2019" -- the day that I suggested then marked the end of Hong Kong as we knew it.  (And yes, I believe I was right, sadly enough.)

"Chan said he had filed the legal challenge because he saw “injustice,” but was unsuccessful due to his education level", the report continues.  "According to Ming Pao, the Department of Justice had initially asked for around HK$510,000. [The presiding judge] reportedly reduced that amount by about HK$2,000."  So generous -- not!
When reading about cases like these, it's hard to not feel psychologically battered and down if you really f**king love Hong Kong and care about what's happening to this place. Which is why little things like the existence of the You are Not Forgotten exhibition taking place at an independent bookstore cum exhibition space called The Hiding Place are appreciated.  (More than incidentally, Hong Kong's The Hiding Place got its name from Corrie ten Boom's book about the hiding place her family used to keep Jews safe in Nazi-occupied Haarlem.)
Organised by the Cup of Color NGO, the exhibition -- which is on until this Friday -- consists of 180 artworks telling 20 stories of hope co-created by 170 artists from 68 countries and territories, including Hong Kong.  Among the Hong Kong representatives are Joanne of All Things Bright and Beautiful.  And among the messages of hope are those entitled "Passing the Hope" (whose lit candle theme got me thinking of Hong Kong's (once) annual June 4th candelight vigils in Victoria Park) and "Hope in the Prison" (which I sincerely hope Hong Kong's political prisoners do indeed (still) have).  
It is upsetting to me that, as of the end of last month, there were/are 1,337 political prisoners in Hong Kong.  And it also is upsetting to me that there are Hong Kongers who actually think that the situation in Hong Kong is actually "not as bad as many people think" -- something I actually heard with my own ears (and voiced by a friend of a friend) at dinner earlier this evening.  
Frankly, people like that can add to my sense of despair as well as anger.  Which is why I feel it is important to remind myself that I am indeed NOT alone, and that hope exists.  Incidentally, two of the themed messages in the You Are Not Forgotten exhibition which personally spoke to me (the most) were about "Hope in the Valley of Death" and "A Forgotten Hope": the former of which I read as hope being alive even when you think it's been extinguished; the latter because some people appear to have given up hoping (that Hong Kong can ever be a good place again) but our being served by our not forgetting what was, and what remains possible.