Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Amnesty International hands the Hong Kong government a publicity victory even while other events taking place don't place in it a great light

Inside an airport that Ugyhur folks would do well to steer clear of
In a statement issued earlier today, the international NGO revealed that "Abuduwaili Abudureheman spoke with Amnesty International and told us he did not travel to Hong Kong, contrary to previous information received".  Amnesty International also stated that: "We are pleased that Abuduwaili Abudureheman is accounted for. We will continue to strive to offer support to people who reach out to us when they believe they or their loved ones are at risk of human rights violations." 
It's worth noting that the NGO's international reputation already has taken a major knock in the past year with the stance they've taken on Ukraine.  And with regards to Hong Kong: what this Abuduwaili Abudureheman incident has done is provide a stick for the authorities to attack the credibility of the news outlets that carried the disappearance story, and to be able to say "See? We were telling the truth" and have proof to show for it -- something which I'm sure they'll make a big deal of for some time to come!

Something that I'm not so sure that the Hong Kong government would like the world to take note of is the trial that began yesterday of 13 individuals accused of "rioting" when they broke into the Legislative Council on July 1st, 2019.  Among them are actor Gregory Wong (who plead not guilty along with five others), and former University of Hong Kong Student Union president Althea Suen and pro-democracy activist-politician Ventus Lau -- both of whom are not even 30 years old yet.
Another brave Hong Konger who has tried to do what he thought was best and good for Hong Kong, at his own peril is former Apple Daily boss Jimmy Lai. He too was in the news again yesterday; thanks to a Hong Kong court's denial of his "request to terminate his national security trial, pressing ahead with a landmark case seen as part of Beijing’s crackdown on the city’s pro-democracy movement."
As an Associated Press piece noted, Jimmy Lai's "lawyers [had] filed an application to halt the trial, raising concerns that his case was being heard by three judges approved by the city’s leader, instead of a jury.  When Hong Kong returned to China in 1997, it was promised that trials by jury, previously practiced in the former British colony, would be maintained under the city’s constitution. But in a departure from the city’s common law tradition, the security law allows no-jury trials for national security cases.  
But: "On Monday, Judges Esther Toh, Susana D’Almada Remedios and Alex Lee unanimously rejected Lai’s request, saying there was no reason to believe they “would be biased, actually or apparently, against” Lai."  Many people are less sure about that. After all, Jimmy Lai has long been a thorn in the flesh of their bosses, the Hong Kong government, and their bosses' bosses, the Chinese government over in Beijing.
Also, more than by the way, thus far, the jury-less national security law trials have had a 100% conviction rate -- something very different from the conviction rate of jury trials in Hong Kong. So even if the judges aren't necessarily specifically biased against Jimmy Lai, the evidence would seem to point to their having a predisposition to find all defendants of national security law trials guilty as charged.
For the record: Jimmy Lai's national security law case is the first one where the accused has been charged with "collusion against foreign forces".  Also, for the record, that's one of three national security law crimes that he has been charged with.  And, again, let the record show: this is the case for which he has been denied his choice of lawyer: Timothy Owen, King's Counsel.  When it finally gets going on September 3rd, I do hope that the world will not have forgotten this brave man and his beloved Hong Kong.  

Sunday, May 28, 2023

The Civic Party disappears from Hong Kong's political landscape, and a Ugyhur man "disappears" after arriving at Hong Kong airport

Civic Party member Audrey Eu on July 1st, 2012 -- less than 
11 years ago but which can seem like it was another lifetime ago now
In its hey day, the Civic Party was Hong Kong's second largest pro-democracy party.  Formed on March 26th, 2007, its co-founders included lawyers -- and then Legislative Councillors -- Margaret Ng, Audrey Eu and Ronny Tong (the last of whom has inexplicably defected to the pro-Beijing camp). 100 member strong at its establishment, "[t]he party was known for representing professionals in Hong Kong including lawyers, accountants and scholars, and was considered a more moderate democratic voice that appealed to the city's large ranks of middle class voters."
If truth be told though, the Civic Party's demise doesn't come as too much of a surprise since it's not been active for some months already.  Of course, it didn't help that "China's imposition of a sweeping national security law in Hong Kong in 2020... saw a number of its members arrested" and some others flee into Hong Kong.  
Representatives of the party that are now in exile include former Legislative Council members Dennis Kwok and Tanya Chan.  Civic Party members currently behind bars include three more former Legislative Councillors Alvin Yeung, Jeremy Tam and Kwok Ka-ki who, as far back as April 2021, had -- together with Lee Yue-shun, who like them was among the 47 pro-democracy politicians and activists arrested under the national security law on February 28th of that year, but had been among the few of them granted bail -- had called for its disbandment, saying that "it has completed its historical mission"
Brave words meant to encourage.  At the same time, I think many of us are only too aware that Hong Kong today is one where being pro-democracy and brave can pose dangers.  And that many people's freedoms and personal safety are at greater risk than just a few years ago; with the national security law that China imposed on Hong Kong on June 30th, 2020, having made Hong Kong (and the world at large) a scarier and less -- not more -- secure place for many folks.
If one needed any more reminders of that, consider the reports in recent days of a Ughyur man having gone missing after he arrived at Hong Kong airport from South Korea on May 10th.  According to Amnesty International: "Abuduwaili Abudureheman has not been heard from since he sent a text message to a friend on 10 May. In the message, Abudureheman said he was being interrogated by Chinese police after arriving at Hong Kong airport... The friend has made Abuduwaili’s disappearance public after becoming increasingly concerned for his safety."
Xinjiang-born Abduduwaili had spent the last seven years studying in Seoul – completing a PhD in Sports Industry and Leisure in 2022.  Amnesty International stated that it "understands that Abuduwaili was on a Chinese government “watch list” of Uyghurs and other Muslims from the Xinjiang region, based on the fact that he had a history of overseas travel. Amnesty International has documented numerous instances of the Chinese government targeting Uyghurs both at home and abroad with arbitrary incommunicado detention, lengthy imprisonment and torture purely based on the fact that they had travelled outside of China" and fears that he has been abducted and taken over the Hong Kong-Mainland China border.

Yesterday evening, the Hong Kong government issued a statement denying "Amnesty International’s accusation that a Uyghur student disappeared after being interrogated at the airport, and said that government records showed that he had not entered or been refused entry to the city."  That may indeed be the case.  But the fact of the matter is that the Hong Kong government very sadly has previous with regards to denying that people had "disappeared" from Hong Kong before they then "reappear" in Mainland China.  
I sincerely hope that Abduduwaili's whereabouts will be revealed soon, and that he will be safe.  In the meantime, his case is, as Joe McReynolds, Tweeted a "[t]ragic reminder that anyone entering Hong Kong now needs to make safety choices just the same as if they are entering the mainland; there's zero practical distinction if you're a dissident, a member of a persecuted ethnic group, or otherwise a target for the [Chinese Communist Party]."  And ditto, of course, for anyone who is already living here.

Friday, May 26, 2023

Hong Kong's not all back to normal (yet) but at least there was a parade again on Tam Kung Birthday today (Photo-essay)

Today is Buddha's Birthday in the Chinese lunar calendar (and a public holiday in Hong Kong).  It's also the first day of the Cheung Chau Bun Festival.  And it's also the birthday of Tam Kung, a Taoist sea deity worshipped in Hong Kong (and Macau) -- in whose honor there is a parade of lions, dragons and unicorns over in Shau Kei Wan.  
Thanks to the Wuhan coronavirus, there was no Tam Kung birthday parade in 2020, 2021 and 2022.  But today saw a return of that annual traditional event (which I last checked out in 2017).  If  memory serves me right, there were a lot more cops in attendance today compared to six years ago and the parade seemed less grand this year.  Still, I've got to say that I enjoyed seeing what I saw over in Shau Kei Wan for the most part this afternoon -- and I once again came away from the festivities with a bunch of photographs of what I thought were pretty cool proceedings...

One of a number of temporary (community) prayer spots 
erected in various parts of Shau Kei Wan today

Unicorn dancer and supporters/crew making its way 
along Shau Kei Wan Main Street

Dancing "lions" duelling by the entrance of 
Acrobatic lion dancers doing their thang!
The lion troupe's drummer put up an impressive show too!
And there were dragons too -- on the street, and temple roof!
It's just a few meters from the Tam Kung Temple in
Shau Kei Wan to Victoria Harbour/the area typhoon shelter
It wasn't Tin Hau's birthday but her temple (which also 
houses a Buddha statue) on Shau Kei Wan Main Street
was festively decorated today too! :)

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Making mountains out of molehills -- an adding to the mountain of resentment already felt by many people -- in Hong Kong

Flying on Cathay Pacific is not something 
many people are wont to do any more!
A few months ago, I flew on a plane for the first time since October 2019.  Like in 2019, I opted to take Cathay Pacific flights.  Something I noticed on both my flights this year: the level of English proficiency of the cabin staff appeared to have gone down.  So it came across to me as rather ironic that in recent days, reports have cropped up about a Cathay Pacific cabin crew member having made fun of a passenger's lack of English fluency (to two colleagues) after the passenger asked for a carpet (instead of a blanket).      
As it so happens, the passenger in question was from Mainland China (and probably didn't know (much) Cantonese either).  And probably because of that, the Cathay Pacific management felt obliged to take quick and dramatic action.  As chronicled by Aaron Busch over on Twitter: 9.59pm, May 22: Cathay Pacific says they are aware of a complaint aboard CX987, apologises[;] 2.28pm, May 23: CX says they have suspended the flight attendants involved for three days, pending an internal investigation[;] 9.43pm, May 23: Three flight attendants fired"!  As in not just the cabin crew member who did the mocking was fired but also the two of her colleagues who had listened to her! 
As if this wasn't already quite the reaction, the arline's CEO, Ronald Lam, also has said that he will personally lead a taskforce to conduct a review into the company's code of conduct.  But even that does not appear enough to satisfy angry Mainland Chinese social media users and Hong Kong's Chief Executive!  
Wading in to give his two cents on the matter, John Lee proclaimed that "The words and deeds of the flight attendants hurt the feelings of compatriots in Hong Kong and the mainland and destroyed Hong Kong's traditional culture and values of respect and courtesy".  And we also have Secretary for Transport and Logistics, Lam Sai-hung, weighing in to express "his deep concern to Cathay and [demand] that [the] management immediately improve the company's services. "I am very distressed by the inappropriate comments made by some of the Cathay Pacific cabin crew members," he said in a statement. "The incident is a serious breach of Hong Kong's reputation for service excellence, long-standing values, and ethical standards"!
Talk about making a mountain out of a molehill!  But that, alas, appears to be the norm as far as the Hong Kong government is concerned these days.  In recent days, John Lee also has "condemned an unusual rise in the number of requests to withdraw from the city's organ donation system, saying Tuesday that police would investigate suspicious cases.  According to the government, the city's centralized organ donation registration system received nearly 5,800 withdrawal applications in the five months since December, when the government raised the possibility of establishing an organ transplant mutual assistance program with mainland China"; a number that is significantly higher than normal.
Obviously, what is getting the goat of the government is that the withdrawals can be seen as "a form of subtle protest against proposals to establish deeper medical ties with mainland China".  As The Guardian article about this noted: "Many Hongkongers are mistrustful of the health system in mainland China. Fears about organs harvested from prisoners are especially common.
But since organ donation is a voluntary thing in Hong Kong, people surely have a right to decide to change their mind about donating their organs just as they have a right to decide whether to take part in the organ donation scheme or not in the first place?  In which case, it would again be making a mountain out of a molehill to ask the police to investigate the withdrawals.  As is getting the police (and lawyers?) to determine if laws were broken in the process?

If nothing else, this is just going to result in even more resentment along with derision at the authorities on the part of Hong Kongers.  Already, someone has been moved to post the following on the LIHKG discussion forum: "We have nothing for you to take away, you took it away, and now you even want to take our organs, right?"

Speaking of jokes: I'm not sure how long it will stay on Youtube but check out this video in which American comedian Paul Ogata pokes fun at the Hong Kong Tourism Board's "Hello Hong Kong" campaign (and slogan).   As the saying goes, sometimes you have to laugh; otherwise you'll cry.  Sadly, that's a feeling I've come to know too well as a resident of national security law-era Hong Kong. :S   

Monday, May 22, 2023

Three banes of my life are here: political oppression; the pandemic; and the summer heat!

It's (literally) hot out there again now!
The Hong Kong Observatory issued its first “very hot weather” warning of 2023 this morning at 11.45am, indicating the mercury was expected to reach at least 33 degrees Celsius today.  Before the warning was cancelled at 5.30pm, temperatures had risen to highs of 34.7 degrees Celsius in Sai Kung town, 34.4 degrees Celsius in Sheung Shui and Yuen Long Park, 34.3 degrees Celsius over at Lau Fa Shan, and 34 degrees in Tai Po and Ta Kwu Ling.  And even though I did not venture into the New Territories, I still felt on the hot side where I was!
With the issuing of the "very hot weather warning", we've got confirmation that summer has arrived in Hong Kong -- and if this one goes the way of those in recent memory, it will stay into October, some four and half long months away.  As it stands, we've already been warned by the folks over at the Hong Kong Observatory that "2023 is likely to be one of the warmest years on record"; with the possibility of record breaking heat this summer having brought about a decision to issue new "extremely hot" weather warnings when the mercury soars above 35 degrees Celsius this summer.
If it's not already clear: summer is my least favourite season of the year.  And while this has been true of all the places I've lived in which has four seasons, I must say that this is particularly so of national security law-era Hong Kong.  
This is because, along with the high heat, the summer also brings with it bad memories of events that took place on the days and nights such as July 21st, August 5th, 2019, August 31st (and not just because of what happened inside Prince Edward MTR station) and September 15th, 2019.  Oh, and no longer being able to go out and take part in the once annual June 4th candlelight vigil and any more pro-democracy marches and rallies (including on July 1st) really is frustrating and depressing; this even though I suppose I should thank the authorities for making it so that I won't sweat like a pig and risk getting heat rash while out protesting on hot summer day and nights as used to be the case!
During the summers of 2020, 2021 and 2022, I sometimes found myself wondering how much of the oppression -- and sometimes accompanying depression -- I felt was due to the authorities, how much was due to the heat and how much was due to the pandemic.  
In 2023, I have pretty much concluded that the heat does have a negative psychological effect on me; ditto the pandemic.  But, really, what upsets and oppresses me the most is what's happening to Hong Kong politically; this especially since the bad news can feel so relentless and like it will never stop coming.  (A candidate for today's lowlight, by the way, would be it having been reported in the Hong Kong Free Press today that 13 more people were found guilty by a judge on Saturday of "rioting" in 2019, including a man who claimed to be a photojournalist.) 

Professor Ivan Hung of the University of Hong Kong said that there currently are about 220 patients were in a serious or criticial condition in hospital in Hong Kong.  Note: Hong Kong no longer requires everyone who tests positive for Covid to be hospitalized though; so, hopefully, the hospitals will not be overwhelmed like they were last year.  
Also, Hong Kong no longer has a mask mandate in place; but it's noticeably so that more people are masking (again) these days than was the case a month ago.  Still, I do wish that more people masked on public transportation and enclosed spaces such as cinemas as is currently the case.  Also, why oh why are there people who wear masks under their noses and mouths?  Like, I'm sorry, but unless you breath through your mouth rather than the nose, the former option is not going to help you or anyone breathing the same air as you!  And for the latter: Masks aren't talismans, you know!

While the anti-extradition/pro-democracy protests made me really f**king love Hong Kong and feel bonded to Hong Kongers (and a part of a great community), the pandemic has left me questioning the intelligence and humanity of many of my fellow human beings; this not least when it comes to discussions of Covid vaccines as well as the Wuhan coronavirus itself.  For the record: I'm pro-mask and also pro-vaccine; and I believe that if more people were, we would have a better chance of vanquishing this coronvirus -- which, sadly, does not look like it will be just disappear and die off the way that SARS did in 2003 but, instead, will be here and plaguing us some time to come; just like China's national security law for Hong Kong. :(   

Saturday, May 20, 2023

The Hong Kong courts deal another blow to Jimmy Lai and rule in law in the territory

Remember when Apple Daily not only still existed, and people 
 "A Hong Kong court rejected an activist publisher’s latest effort Friday [i.e. yesterday] to use a British lawyer to defend him against national security charges as Beijing tries to crush a pro-democracy movement." The activist publisher in question of course being 75-year-old Jimmy Lai, the founder of the now-defunct pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily that was a thorn in the flesh of the authorities in Hong Kong and over in Mainland China for many years.
Jimmy Lai already is serving time in prison for a lesser offence that he was found guilty of last December and was already behind bars prior to that after being denied bail post being slapped with the national security law charges. He faces up to life in prison and a possible extradition to Mainland China if convicted under the national security law -- and pretty much everyone knows that's what his enemies dearly want to happen.       
In November, Hong Kong’s top court approved Lai hiring veteran lawyer Timothy Owen for the case, only to have the city’s national security authorities proceed to block that approval.  The political saga over Lai’s choice of lawyer is widely seen as part of the city’s crackdown on dissidents after the protests."
Yesterday's decision by the high court was not unexpected. But it still was upsetting nonetheless; this not least because the "explanations" that came for the decision laid bare how very powerful the national security law is.  As per the AP report: "Judge Jeremy Poon rejected Lai’s request to overturn the committee for safeguarding national security’s decision. Poon ruled courts have no jurisdiction over the committee under the security law." 
A reminder: this is the national security law that Beijing imposed on Hong Kong on June 30th, 2020.  And this is the same national security law which "criminalizes acts of succession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces [which] has led to the arrests of many prominent democracy activists and damaged faith in the future of the international financial hub."
The repercussions of this for more than Jimmy Lai is made clear in by the Wall Street Journal editorial board in a five paragraph opinion piece entitled Hong Kong's Jimmy Lai Rules which pulled few punches and is so good that I figure it's worth quoting in its entirety:
A Hong Kong court ruled Friday that imprisoned newspaperman Jimmy Lai can’t hire the British lawyer he wants for his upcoming national security trial. That came the morning after Mr. Lai’s son Sebastian accepted the Cato Institute’s prestigious Milton Friedman Prize on behalf of his father in Washington. The two events tell the story of the erosion of the rule of law that made Hong Kong a world financial center. 
Sebastian Lai spoke movingly of the father he hasn’t seen in two years because the son may also face arbitrary arrest in Hong Kong. His family’s experience attests to how rights and freedoms that were fundamental to Hong Kong’s success have been eliminated.
The Communist Party hammer is the national-security law that China imposed on Hong Kong in 2020. Hong Kong’s national-security law that was pushed through over huge public protest. It is intended to trump other laws that get in the way of what authorities want to do, such as deny Mr. Lai his choice of lawyer. Now the government will be even freer to act because the High Court said national-security issues aren’t subject to normal judicial review. 
This is a blank check to a government not shy about locking people up. It came about because when Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee was embarrassed by three courts that sided with Mr. Lai, he took his case to China. In December Beijing ruled that the Committee for Safeguarding National Security—chaired by Mr. Lee—had the power to ban foreign lawyers in national-security cases...
This is more erosion in the rule of law since any national-security charge must already be heard by special judges. And it’s more evidence that the rights that investors once took for granted are no longer protected by Hong Kong law. By awarding Mr. Lai its Milton Friedman Prize, the Cato Institute reminds us that, if a prominent man like Jimmy Lai can have his business shut down and be imprisoned, no one is safe in Hong Kong.

 (my emphasis in bold)

Thursday, May 18, 2023

A rejuvenating hike from the Peak down to Aberdeen (Photo-essay)

A Canadian friend who's visited Hong Kong many times before but not for some four years is currently here.  He told me he wanted to do more hiking than he had previously done and in parts of Hong Kong he previously had not set foot in.  After determining that he had never gone on this particular route, I took him on a hike from the Peak down to Aberdeen.
It's a route that I've been on multiple time over the years and/but enjoyed each time for the varied scenery that it offers up.  And I'm glad to say that my friend was able to appreciate its charms too.  At one point, he said, "I can see how a hike like this would help you to rejuvenate and re-appreciate Hong Kong".  And that just about sums it all up really! :)
Spotted early on in the hike: a butterfly with parts of its wings 
missing yet still is able to fly as well as is very much alive
-- a metaphor for Hong Kong in 2023? :S
As I told my friend: I'm sorry but it's well nigh impossible
to find a hike route that doesn't have ups and downs in Hong Kong!
Umbrellas at a pavillion -- I assume they were put up there by the
morning walkers that regularly visit but would it also be fair to assume 
that they are free for passersby to take and use in rainy weather?!
View of Aberdeen and the surrounding area which shows well
how urban and rural parts of Hong Kong are so close together
View of Aberdeen and Ap Lei Chau which includes the
A spot which my friend thought would be a good place
to go swimming on a hot summer's day ;b
A look back up at the fog covered Peak got us counting our
good fortune that it was less humid and wet a few hundred feet down below!
The old St Peter's Secondary School building's covered
way more greenery than when I last saw it a year or two ago! :O

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Book censorship in Hong Kong's public libraries, with the Tiananmen Square Massacre being among those subjects that is increasingly hard to read about in them

A book no longer available in Hong Kong public libraries
(but copies of which do exist in private hands in Hong Kong)
The past few days have been full of news of a number of books no longer being found in Hong Kong public libraries.  This is in addition to works by satirical cartoonist Zunzi having disappeared from them in the wake of the news of Ming Pao having suspended (and, in all likelihood, ended the four decade run of his cartoon strip last week; with a search by the Hong Kong Free Press, "including for Zunzi’s real name, Wong Kei-kwan, [having] yielded no results on the public library’s official website on Friday". (More than by the way, here's a link to his final comic, entitled "Rain and shine together" and featuring a yellow umbrella, which came out on Saturday, May 12th.) 

In the wake of this development, people have been doing searches in Hong Kong's public libraries and found that works by other notable folks -- including Hong Kong sociologist Ngok Ma and Stanford University political sociologist Larry Diamond -- have also gone missing; even those, like Chinese author Xu Zhiyuan, whose books are not banned in Mainland China!  In the words of a now exiled Hong Konger, Galileo Cheng: "A censorship system is being revived and we are drifting back to the old days" (with the old days in question being pre-turn of the 20th century British colonial Hong Kong). 

These discoveries prompted another now exiled Hong Konger, lawyer-political commentator Kevin Yam, to Tweet the following: "Today it’s banning books deemed politically unacceptable, tomorrow it will be banning of books containing politically sensitive economic, business and financial knowledge. Free information flows is a lynchpin of business and finance, which Hong Kong is en route to destroying."  That was on three days ago, May 13th, and in the days that have followed, still more books have been found to have gone missing from Hong Kong's public libraries. 
Yesterday, Ming Pao political reporter Alvin Lum Tweeted that "Hong Kong's public libraries have shelved memoir and writings of late democrat Szeto Wah as part of [a] review under [the] National Security Law" and also books by lawyer Margaret Ng.  Re the former: as Hong Kong journalist Ryan Ho Kilpatrick (now exiled in Taiwan) observed: "Szeto Wah used to be considered the archetype of the loyal opposition, every inch a patriot as much as a democrat. Even Beijing recognised this, and appointed him to the Basic Law drafting committee in 1985. The fact [that[ his work is now being censored shows how far HK has fallen."
Re the latter: If Margaret Ng wasn't already among the most respected Hong Kongers alive before she made a great speech in court in April 2021, she has become so after that.  More than incidentally, I had included a link to that speech in my blog post about her.  Sadly, Citizen News is one of the Hong Kong media sites that has felt obliged to close down in recent years; so here's providing a link to her speech at was shared on another, this time out-of-Hong Kong website.
But, as Hong Kong Free Press' chief editor Tom Grundy noted: This removal of books about the Tiananmen Square Massacre "has been going on for a couple of years. In 2021,[the Hong Kong Free Press] found that Hong Kong’s libraries had 392 fewer copies of books about the Tiananmen crackdown than they did in 2009."  And this is the thing: it's been a drip, drip process for some years now; one which too many people failed to take notice or seriously enough despite this and other examples of  "Mainlandization" having been talked and shouted about by pro-democracy activists and protestors for years before 2020, 2019 and even in 2014!  
Returning to today: Chief Executive John Lee responded to the current hoo-ha by stating that "Titles removed from the shelves of Hong Kong public libraries can still be bought from bookstores".  Also in the same Hong Kong Free Press piece covering this: "Ming Pao reported that since 2020, around 40 per cent of books and recordings about political topics or figures had been removed from public libraries.  Of 468 political books and recordings identified by Ming Pao, at least 195 had been removed – 96 of them in the past year, the newspaper reported." (And yes, this is the same Ming Pao that has suspended Zunzi's cartoon strip!)

Re the last: miraculously, independent bookstores -- a few of which are "yellow" too -- do still exist in Hong Kong; and I've actually seen copies of Louisa Lim's The People's Republic of Amnesia in one of those that still are in operation.  But the other Hong Kong bookstore where I saw copies of that book for sale is no more; with the owner of Bleak House Book having been open about the state of politics in Hong Kong having been behind his decision to return with his family to the USA back in 2021
Something else worth noting: amidst it all, it's never been outright proclaimed that mourning, never mind discussing, the Tiananmen Square Massacre is illegal.  Just yesterday, "Secretary for Security Chris Tang evaded questions from a reporter on Monday over whether members of public mourning victims of the crackdown would be committing subversion or sedition, ahead of the June 4 anniversary of the incident.  
So... tell me: why have all those books about June 4th disappeared from Hong Kong's public libraries with a number of others that it's really quite difficult to look upon as national security threats?  And this especially when none other than the Hong Kong Chief Executive maintains that they're (still) okay to sell and buy in bookstores?! 

Sunday, May 14, 2023

Still really f**king loving in Hong Kong even on gray, dark days

The umbrellas, including yellow ones, come out 
on wet days in Hong Kong
The past few weeks have been seen a number of gray and wet days in Hong Kong.  Then even have been days when it got as dark as night around midday and strong winds blowing got me wondering if a typhoon had sneaked up on us!  They're not ideal but they've also been preferable to the brutal heat wave that some parts of Asia have been experiencing.  And the wet weather helps to postpone the advent of summer: my least favorite season in Hong Kong; which, alas, feels like it's been getting longer and longer with each passing year.
In some ways, how I feel about current weather conditions can be seen as a metaphor for what I feel about how things are in Hong Kong in general: i.e., it's not ideal but, sadly, I can see how it could be worse -- and, sadly, do anticipate that it will be so in the not do distant future.  Also, liken me to the metaphorical frog in the slowly boiling water all you want but, for now, I am feeling it's bearable.  And I remain wary of -- to use another metaphor here -- jumping out of the frying pan, only to end up in the fire.

Put another way: I still am not sure that I will be able to enjoy a better life outside of Hong Kong in the parts of the world where I could easily move to and resettle.  (This aside from the issue of being reluctant to leave because my feeling is that if and when I finally do leave my heartplace, I will never (be able to) return -- even for a short holiday.)
I know people who will say: but what about all the repression and persecutions, the assault on Hong Kong's freedoms, Hong Kong not having democracy, etc.?  Here's the thing: yes, it's happening.  And it most certainly does negatively affect me.  For yeah, far from affecting just "an extremely small minority of people", the national security law affects even the likes of me -- in that that certain funds I used to donate to no longer exist, events I used to attend no longer can be held, films I want to see in Hong Kong cinemas can't be screened here, etc., etc., etc.
And yet, there still are a lot of things I can do here too that give me pleasure and also make me feel that I'm still part of a (yellow) community I care for.  I realize it might not seem like much (especially compared to what one could do just four years ago) but I still can support (existing) members of the Yellow Economic Circle, watch and support worthy Hong Kong movies, have access to -- and express myself -- on social media (I've long considered there being no access to the likes of Twitter, Facebook and Google sans VPN in Hong Kong, like is the case in Mainland China, to be a "deal breaker" for me), carry a yellow umbrella in public and -- despite what some people might want you think -- wear T-shirts with "Hong Kong ga yau" on it or, for that matter, black colored attire in Hong Kong.
To be sure, doing some of these risks harassment by the police.  (It's not for nothing that, as I've stated before, living in national security law-era Hong Kong can feel like living in a police state.)  But, okay, yes, I'm still willing to do so.  And should it not be clear: I still think life in Hong Kong is worth living, and Hong Kong still very much worth loving.  In short: yeah, despite it all, I still really f**king love Hong Kong -- and sincerely hope that the vast majority of the people who have felt obliged to leave it in recent years still do too.