Tuesday, August 29, 2023

For members of the Yellow Economic Circle (and their supporters), this really is not "Our Time" -- alas!

A yellow Hong Kong phoenix that I'll take as a sign that there are
yellow Hong Kongers who have not given up on their hopes and dreams
Last week, I had my final meal at a member of the Yellow Economic Circle that had announced that it would close at the end of the week. Sadly, closing announcements have become all too frequent in the past year or so.  Yesterday, I walked by another "yellow shop" and saw that it had a notice up that its last day will be on September 25th.
The fact of the matter is that the Hong Kong economy's not doing well, and hasn't been doing well for some time now.  So, as the case of such as the "blue" (i.e., pro-Beijing) Jumbo floating restaurant's closure showed, it's not just the Yellow Economic Circle that's been struggling to stay afloat and even sank (in the case of the Jumbo, literally!).     

Still, there can't be denying that members of the Yellow Economic Circle also face extra obstacles in the case of such as de facto harassment by the authorities by way of their going and doing such as checking on a variety of issues.  And while there no longer are Covid restrictions to worry about, the visits by such as the police or other government branches have not ceased.  
By the way, the "yellow" restaurant chain in question's name translates into English as the Kwong Wing Catering Company but also is known in English as Glory Cafe.  And in the wake of the whole Glory to Hong Kong insanity, one can't help but wonder if this very existence of this restaurant chain in question was irritating the authorities by way of the name it had as well as it being openly "yellow".  This particularly after another eatery with a similar name attracted the attention of the authorities in recent days. 

The case of Glorious Fast Food is another one that shows how surreal -- and ridiculous life in -- Hong Kong has become.  Specifically, for at least a decade, its walls had featured art work of construction workers in yellow hard hats eating -- because "[c[onstruction workers are commonly customers at the restaurant", its owner told the Hong Kong Free Press: "There is actually no other meaning."  But the powers that be decided that "the image “may violate” the 2020 national security law" as yellow hard hats were associated with pro-democracy protestors (not just construction workers) "since construction helmets were often used as protection by protesters during the 2019 demonstrations and unrest"!
Speaking of surreal and ridiculous, here's another example for you that comes by way of a report by Quartz's Mary Hui
Gongjyuhok, a Hong Kong advocacy group that promotes the use of Cantonese, announced on Monday (Aug. 28) it is shutting down after national security police last week entered the founder’s former home, where his relatives now live. The group—whose name translates to “Cantonese study”—was founded in 2013 with the mission of “protecting the language rights of Hong Kong people." 
In a statement (link in Chinese), Gongjyuhok founder Andrew Chan said authorities conducted a warrantless search of the home and accused the group of violating Hong Kong’s national security law by publishing a fictional story.

In an email to Quartz, Chan confirmed that the story in question is “Our Time,” by an author named Siu Gaa. It was one of 18 shortlisted entries in a 2020 writing competition hosted by Gongjyuhok and sponsored by the Hong Kong government. Citing legal pressures, Chan took down the story from the Gongjyuhok website, but an archived version (link in Chinese; translation here) is still available.

"Our Time" is very much worth your time to read.  But if you prefer to have the short story summarized, Mary Hui's done that too in five paragraphs that I'm hereby quoting in their entirety:

The short story accused of violating the national security law, “Our Time,” is set in a dystopian 2050. It tells of an authoritarian future in which vast swaths of Hong Kong history have been erased from both the city’s structures and the public consciousness, and all aspects of life are subsumed under the Chinese Communist Party.

One of the two characters is a twenty-something named Gwong Zai, whose parents emigrated to the UK in 2020—the year the national security law was enforced. The parents recently passed away due to health complications caused by “[inhaling] too much Chinese-made tear gas in their youth.”

After finding an old notebook filled with his parents’ writings from decades prior describing pre-authoritarian Hong Kong, Gwong Zai travels to the city for the first time to retrace his parents’ footsteps.

He encounters a young woman, Siu Sze, who is surprised by how much he knows about Hong Kong’s past. “I have not seen local people so familiar with Hong Kong’s stories for a long time,” she tells him, hinting at a mass state-enforced amnesia.

Before they part, she gives him a book she had been reading. In the book is a poem that reads: “The struggle between man and totalitarianism is the struggle between memory and forgetting.”

I also think the following lines from "Our Time" is worth sharing: "We live in this city, and every street and every building around us tells its own stories".  And as I continue to live in Hong Kong, I take these words to heart and feel that it's important to know and tell and remember the stories of that which a friend recognized long ago was, and remains (despite it often hurting to be so -- including today, when there's also been news of two more national security law arrests and ), my "heartplace".

Sunday, August 27, 2023

A Japanese feast in Hong Kong (which currently could not be offered in Mainland China!) (Photo-essay)

Clearly, it's a political decision.  As noted in a BBC report: "Beyond China, no other country has even hinted at a total ban".  And with anti-Japan sentiments being whipped up in China, "Japan [has] told its citizens living in China to keep a low profile on Friday, including talking quietly in public".  
Over in Hong Kong, however, I really don't think Japanese folks have much to fear from the locals (who tend to be big fans of Japanese food and pop culture).  On a personal note: I've been partaking in quite a bit of Japanese culture in recent days; thanks to such as the ongoing Summer International Film Festival screening a number of Japanese films (including five works by master auteur Yazujiro Ozu) and a delicious (as well as visually enjoyable) omakase sushi dinner featuring seafood and other food items from those parts of Japan whose seafood products remain unbanned by the Hong Kong government -- a selection of which can be seen in the following photo-essay! ;b
Tako (octopus) that has been tenderised (I'd like to imagine,
by way of being massaged like shown in Jiro Dreams of Sushi ;b)
Onikasago (Japanese demon scorpion fish) sashimi (served with a slice 
of mushroom and wasabi) -- a fish I ate for the first time ever this week!
One of my all time favorite sushi toppings: 
-- tasty and also beautiful, right? :)
Botan ebi (Botan shrimp) -- which was amazingly sweet and juicy!
Shinko (baby gizzard shad) -- a much looked forward to 
seasonal item, and so rare that only I was given it in my
party of five (because the chef knows I really love it)!
A decadent handroll featuring
negi toro (chopped tuna mixed
along with rice and seaweed
A fat piece of rolled
saba (mackerel) sushi! :)

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

On the eve of Hong Kong enacting a ban on seafood (and sea salt and seaweed) from 10 Japanese prefectures

Akami (red tuna meat) from Nagasaki served with tororo 
(grated mountain yam), negi (Japanese leek) and wasabi
(Japanese horseradish) at the Sheung Wan branch of Sushi Masa 
"Secretary for Environment and Ecology Tse Chin-wan [also] said on Tuesday, adding that the government will monitor radiation levels to determinate how long the ban will last".  What's left unsaid though is how the four landlocked prefectures of Tochigi, Gunma, Nagano and Saitama would have those kinds of products -- and also why Niigata's seafood products are considered unsafe despite it being on the Sea of Japan side of Honshu Island: that is, the opposite side from where Fukushima is!
Of course, it's easy enough to accuse the Hong Kong government's decision to ban seafood imports from these 10 Japanese prefectures as being political rather than truly scientific.  But here's offering up some suggestions as to how they've come to target these particular prefectures (rather than others of Japan's 47 prefectures).
Firstly, as I previously noted, the 10 affected Japanese prefectures are the same ones that the (Mainland) Chinese government has also targeted.  But, as Environment minister Tse Chin-wan was quoted in a RTHK article as saying, Hong Kong "is taking a relatively conservative approach with the imports ban".  

On one level, I applaud this "conservative" approach -- in that I wouldn't like Hong Kong to be like Mainland China in banning all food products from the Fukushima, Tokyo, Chiba, Tochigi, Ibaraki, Gunma, Miyagi, Niigata, Nagano and Saitama.  And his especially if they also are banning drinks too as there are a number of really good sake breweries located in those prefectures!

However, after deciding to deviate from China in being more "conservative" and just specifying that they would be banning seafood products, the Hong Kong government should have more carefully looked at the list of prefectures affected rather than just follow China's lead in terms of which prefectures to ban products from!  This way, it wouldn't end up having egg on its face as a result of banning seafood products from landlocked prefectures and from Niigata too!
In addition, I have a feeling that the Chinese government first came up with this list of 10 prefectures in March 2011, when there were fears that radioactive waste from Fukushima was airborne as well as flowing into the ocean.  For if this were so, having Niigata and Nagano on the list makes more sense.
In any case, even though the ban is due to take effect tomorrow, it apparently remains unclear still to such as Martin Chan – a member of the board of directors of the Hong Kong Federation of Restaurants & Related Trades -- whether seafood coming from other Japanese regions – via Tokyo (one of the prefectures on the ban list) – are exempt from the prohibition.  For as Chan's pointed out, " 80 to 90 per cent of all exports from Japan to the world transit via Tokyo".  And as it so happens, Japan's (and the world's) largest seafood market, Toyosu, is located in Tokyo prefecture!

If seafood coming from other Japanese regions (even if they transit through Tokyo) is allowed to come into Hong Kong, then I think many restauranteurs and food purveyors here will thank goodness for small mercies.  At the same time though, I think many -- if not all -- of them would, given the choice, continue importing seafood, sea salt and seaweed from whichever part of Japan they've thus far been doing; with few, if any of them, seriously worrying about the impact of Fukushima wastewater on those items.
As has been reported (including in a recent piece in The Guardian), "the UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), approved the discharge, saying that the radiological impact on people and the environment would be “negligible”.  [And s]ome experts point out that nuclear plants around the world use a similar process to dispose of wastewater containing low-level concentrations of tritium and other radionuclides."  As an example: "“Tritium has been released [by nuclear power plants] for decades with no evidential detrimental environmental or health effects,” said Tony Hooker, a nuclear expert from the University of Adelaide."
And for the record: "Tepco’s advanced liquid processing system removes most radioactive elements except for tritium, an isotope of hydrogen that is difficult to separate from water.  The water will be diluted to one 40th of the concentration permitted under Japanese safety standards before being pumped into the ocean over the next 30 to 40 years via an underwater tunnel 1km from the coast."      
On a personal note: as it so happens, I'm due to have an omakase meal this Friday at a high end sushi-ya here in Hong Kong.  It will be interesting to see how different it is from previous ones I've had at the same establishment: in terms of what is served (this not least because I'd been served tuna from Shiogama and Miyagi oysters there previously); and, also, if there will be more, fewer or the same number of diners there.    

Monday, August 21, 2023

Hong Kong national security police "scare tactics" affecting families that have become all too familiar

A protest piece put up back in 2019 
and still, amazingly, up in 2023!
As of Monday evening, I've not seen reports of the woman having been arrested (and charged) or let go.  I'm going to presume that it's the latter, as that has been the case for Nathan Law's other relatives and friends, and the relatives and friends of Anna Kwok, Dennis Kwok, Christopher Mung and Elmer Yung, who have been taken in questioning in recent weeks: a total of 40 individuals since July 3rd.  For as was noted in a recent article in The Guardian about these occurrences: "Observers and supporters say while there is still fear that could happen, it isn’t really the point."
Rather, "“It’s essentially hostage-taking, sending a message to activists and potential activists abroad that if you stand up to the Hong Kong government they’ll go after your family,” says Samuel Bickett, a US-based fellow at Georgetown’s centre for Asian law, and a former activist who was previously jailed in Hong Kong. “Whatever [the authorities] do to couch this in terms of the law – saying they’re interviewing witness and things like that – that’s not what this is. They know exactly where these [activists] are and what they’re doing, there is absolutely no reason to question the families.”"
As pointed out in the article: what the Hong Kong national security police are doing/have done is to apply "gangster tactics" as well as borrow a leaf from their Chinese compatriots; one whose true objective is to scare overseas activists and potential activists into silence.  But while they may have achieved their aim with regards to some individuals, the eight who have HK$1 million bounties on their heads (and thus would seem to be the most wanted) do not appear to have been cowed and, in fact, are continuing to speak out and otherwise continue their activities.
As an example, Kevin Yam continues to keep an eye on, and Tweet about, Hong Kong.  Today, he also Tweeted his congratulations to Ted Hui -- complete with a smart looking photo of Hui at the Australian Supreme Court -- on his recently becoming a barrister and solicitor of South Australia, pointing out that Hong Kong "might consider him a criminal, but Australia sees him as fit and proper to practise law!"
In The Guardian piece I previously mentioned, Elmer Yuen was reported as stating that "he worries about his children in Hong Kong more than they worry about him overseas.“Hong Kong is like big prison. If they don’t allow you to leave the airport, there’s nothing you can do,” he said."  I'm not sure how much truth there was in his former statement but I do reckon he's got a point about Hong Kong being -- or, at least, feeling -- like a big prison at times.  And yes, I do know people who worry when they go to the airport that they won't be allowed to leave Hong Kong, even arrested when trying to do so.
The worst of it all with regards to national security law arrests is that, thus far, there has been a 100% conviction rate with regards to people charged with violating it.  Speaking of convictions: Hong Kong gained one new political prisoner last Thursday; bringing the total number of political prisoners in Hong Kong to 1,614 as of August 17th.  And sadly, we know that number will increase rather decrease in the coming days and weeks and months.  (So much for Carrie Lam's assurances about the national security law targeting only "a small group of people" and all that jazz!)

Returning to the families of the eight Hong Kongers with HK$1 million dollar bounties on their head and The Guardian's piece: "Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch, remains worried that the targeting of families could escalate to arrests or even criminal charges under the very broad national security law and sedition ordinance.

“We’ve seen this in many other circumstances across the mainland,” Richardson said. “Every time people ask a question like that I’ve taught myself to think back five, 10, 20 years and see if we saw this [crackdown in Hong Kong] coming. We didn’t necessarily anticipate this escalation of hostility, or the appalling distortions of law, misrepresentations of law.  This is going to be an ongoing story."  So to those of you who care for Hong Kong, Hong Kongers and justice: please don't look away; and, instead, keep your eyes on Hong Kong.

Friday, August 18, 2023

Reminders served up today of key events which took place four years ago but many Hong Kongers still feel deeply affected by

Four years ago today, there were many people out on the streets
with umbrellas on account of it having been a super rainy day
There were thunderstorms and heavy rain in many parts of Hong Kong this morning.  The sky was so dark that, at 11am, it looked like it was much closer to midnight than noon.  It almost felt like the heavens were sending out reminders of August 18th, 2019, and some 1.7 million Hong Kongers having gone out on the streets to protest for democracy and against police brutality despite a veritable deluge four years ago today.

As it so happened, I had scheduled a dinner with friends this evening who had been at the protest that day.  Early on, I reminded them of what this was the fourth anniversary for.  Amusingly, one -- who I had not met at the time -- later jokingly remarked that we may well have walked by or been in the vicinity of each other at some point that day or some other day of protest in 2019 or 2020.  And that's the thing about Hong Kong protestors: we may not actually know one another and yet we were united and probably would be friends if we did get together to hang out for fun (rather than to protest)!
The same friend also remarked at another point in the evening that there are times when she looks back to 2019 and can hardly believe that what happened then really did so.  So different is the Hong Kong we now live in compared to that that the Hong Kong of 2019 can feel like a fever dream.  And yet, as I said to her, our memories of 2019 can be stronger and more vivid than many a day in 2020, 2021 or 2022.  It's strange how things can be.  And so important to remember and document lest we forget.    
Among the reasons why certain dates in 2019 are days I can't forget is that so many things happening today or this week (or this month, etc.) relate to what took place four years ago.  For example, this Monday's appeals court decision that I blogged about earlier this week actually pertained to the involvement of Jimmy Lai, Lee Cheuk-yan, "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung, Cyd Ho, Margaret Ng and Martin Lee in the protest that took place four years ago today.
And what happened at the appeals court this afternoon concerns a defendant's involvement in the gangster attack on innocents in Yuen Long on July 21st, 2019.  As per a Hong Kong Free Press report: "Decorator Ching Wai-ming, 64, appeared at the Court of Appeal [earlier today]. He was convicted of rioting and conspiracy of causing injury and sentenced to four years and three months in jail in October 2022 for participating in an indiscriminate attack against protesters, commuters and journalists at Yuen Long MTR station on July 21, 2019."
In appealing his guilty verdict, "[s]everal times, Ching told the court that he wanted to “share the truth about what happened that day”.  “If I don’t say it today, I won’t have another chance,” Ching told judge Anthea Pang in Cantonese."  And in so doing, he dropped a bombshell of sorts -- in that it's something many people have long suspected but the individuals concerned had not admitted, until today.
Specifically, "“I thought the government was telling me to do it. It was that simple,” Ching said."  That is, take part in a mob attack against innocent people: some of whom had returned from taking part in a protest on Hong Kong Island earlier in the day, some of whom hadn't (even) done so!
A reminder (again, from the Hong Kong Free Press article):  "On July 21, 2019, over 100 rod-wielding men stormed Yuen Long MTR station leaving 45 people injured – including journalists, protesters, commuters and pro-democracy lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting. Police were criticised for responding slowly to the incident, with some officers seen leaving the scene or interacting with the white-clad men. The official account of the incident evolved over a year, with the authorities eventually claiming it was a “gang fight.”"
After Ching made his statement/allegation, justice Pang told him: "“I have to stop you now”" because, she said, "an appeal hearing was not a retrial and the court did not allow for expressions of personal feeling."  You be the judge if what Ching said was "an expression of personal feeling" or a factual statement.  
In any case, here's serving up another reminder that "The attack in 2019 sparked anger and distrust against authorities, with some suspecting the men in white shirts – many of them villagers from Yuen Long – were supported by pro-establishment forces."  And I think it's safe to say that there are many Hong Kongers who will have come away from hearing or reading what Ching said thinking that what he said was indeed the truth, and very revealing indeed.

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Memories of a visit to Hagi's Daishoin close to four years after the fact (Photo-essay)

Close to four years ago now, I went on a trip to Japan that would be my last one for far longer than I thought would be the case.  So much has happened in the intervening years (including more protests than I actually can remember and also a multi-year pandemic).  As a result, my chronicling of what actually was a pretty awesome trip (which included visits to a cool rabbit island, an island in Seto Inland Sea that's home to an unbelievable temple and an amazing underground cave along with a historic town along the Sea of Japan that attracts few foreign visitors) has been broken up... and not completed!
But I complete it I must and will; not least because I want to share how wonderful the places I visited on that October 2019 trip were.  So eight months after offering up a photo-essay of my visit to Mori clan temple of Tokoji in Hagi, here's sharing photos from my visit to the scond Mori clan temple that same autumn day: with Daisho-in being home to another atmospheric, lantern-filled graveyard -- this time the even-numbered generations of Mori lords (as opposed to Tokoji's odd-number generations of Mori lords!)...   
While Tokoji is located within walking distance of other historical  sites 
literally on the other side of the train tracks from the more built up part of Hagi 
The walk from the nearest bus stop to the temple passes along 
citrus fruit orchards which are the dwelling places 
of critter like this cool looking spider :)
It's easy enough to figure out the path to Daishoin though
thanks to the way being lined by these stone lanterns
Daishoin's temple compound is quieter and more rustic than expected
There's a distinct air of age and neglect about the place
-- and I admit it, I thought it felt kind of eerie!
Nonetheless, through the gates of the graveyard I went!
Thank goodness for Puppet Ponyo being with me -- 
and she really did add some color to the place, at the very least! ;b
All joking aside, I found the graveyard of the Mori lords (and 
eight samurai who committed seppuku on the death of their lord) to be 
a thoroughly impressive place that I feel privileged to have got to visit

Monday, August 14, 2023

Justice has not been served today to Hong Kong activists, including Jimmy Lai

What does it say about Hong Kong that the Correctional
Services Department takes part in the Hong Kong Flower Show?!
This morning saw Hong Kong's appeals court clear seven prominent democracy figures of the charge of organising a pro-democracy protest rally on August 18th, 2019, which attracted some 1.7 million peaceful participants despite rain pouring down for much of the afternoon.  But should anyone want to hail it as a victory for democracy and freedom of assembly in Hong Kong, they should note that "[w]hile the appeals court struck down one conviction, it upheld another, for participating in the August 18 demonstration".  
Consequently, their convictions and sentences linked to participating in that protest were upheld even if the sentences they received on April 16th, 2021, were reduced.  More specifically, Jimmy "Lai saw his sentence reduced from 12 months to nine, Lee Cheuk-yan’s was reduced from 12 months to six, Leung’s went from 18 months to 12 months, and Cyd Ho had her eight-month sentence, which she had already completed, reduced to five months" while Margaret "Ng, Martin Lee and Albert Ho, who were originally handed suspended sentences, [had] only sought to challenge their conviction" -- because it doesn't look good (on paper, at the very least) for practicing lawyers like them to have convictions on their record -- but were thus unsuccessful in doing so.
It's probably a reflection of Jimmy Lai being the most well known of the septet that The Guardian's piece on this court finding features a photo of the 75-year-old billionaire who currently is behind bars.  Or possibly it's because he's the one British citizen among the seven Hong Kong pro-democracy figures whose appeal was heard today.
In any case, I'd like to draw attention to that photo of him that was used.  Specifically, it's  one of the "exclusive photos taken by The Associated Press in recent weeks" that were shared in a piece that came to my attention late last night, and which I know that I'm far from the only person who found heartbreaking.  
"Jimmy Lai, a former newspaper publisher and one of Hong Kong’s most prominent pro-democracy activists, spends around 23 hours a day in solitary confinement in a maximum-security facility while he awaits a trial that could send him to prison for life."  Thus began that report by Louise Delmotte that also provided the following details of the media mogul turned political prisoner's prison regime: 
Lai is allowed out for 50 minutes a day to exercise. Unlike most other inmates, who play football or exercise in groups, Lai walks alone in what appears to be a 5-by-10-meter (16-by-30-foot) enclosure surrounded by barbed wire under Hong Kong’s punishing summer sun before returning to his unairconditioned cell in the prison...
Lai is allowed two 30-minute visits by relatives or friends each month. They are separated by glass and communicate by phone...
Lai, who suffers from diabetes and was diagnosed with high blood pressure in 2021 while in detention, is treated as a Category A prisoner, a status for inmates who have committed the most serious crimes such as murder.

Among the reactions to this AP report I've since read is one that said something to the effect of "He's going to die in prison".  You also have those people, including lawyers like Samuel Bickett, pointing out that the treatment that Jimmy Lai has been subjected to is torture.  

In addition, there's this from Kevin Yam over on Twitter: "The shame and disgrace are on those who are persecuting Jimmy Lai. The man himself walks tall and is rightly respected and admired by all freedom-loving peoples of the world. Hong Kong is lucky to have Jimmy Lai."

Friday, August 11, 2023

Ten more national security law arrests made during what's been yet another horror week in Hong Kong

On the front page of Apple Daily three years ago today

This has been quite the horror of a week in Hong Kong with way too many political arrests and "brought to police stations for questioning" developments for my liking.  Re the latter: I refer you to this past Wednesday's blog post.  As for the former: "At least 10 people linked to the now-defunct "612 Humanitarian Relief Fund" were arrested for foreign collusion by national security police yesterday, sources say.  It was the first time second-tier workers of pro-democracy organizations have been held."  
So began the report in The Standard today on the latest wave of arrests by the Hong Kong security police, which then continued as follows: "National security police arrested four men and six women, aged between 26 and 43, for allegedly colluding with foreign forces to endanger national security.  It is understood that the 10 are all former staff of the fund, including activist Bobo Yip Po-lam, Cheuk Kai-kai, Helen Hui Kun-wing, Wong Tsz-yan and Suki Tsoi Yui-chi."  

The second of the 10 whose identity became known was Cheuk Ka-kai.  She -- Kevin Yam wrote the following over on Twitter about her -- "was into organic farming. The type that grew expensive, “artisan” stuff that elites would happily pay to buy and eat. People like her would, at worst, be considered tree-hugging hippies in the West, a long way from being a security threat"!
Here's the thing: when you look at the people involved, they really can come across as perfectly ordinary, nice, harmless folks. Quoting again from The Standard article: "Some of [the arrestees] are also members of a voluntary Chinese medicine group that provided assistance to protesters during the 2019 unrest, who had admitted they were financially supported by the 612 fund." 
Read that last line again: members of a voluntary Chinese medicine group. And let that sink in. And then try to link that to "colluding with foreign forces". What kind of foreign forces do you think people like that would collude with, if at all??
Quoting once more from The Standard report: "Police said the 10 were suspected of using the fund - set up to provide legal support to protesters in the anti-fugitive bill unrest - to accept donations from overseas organizations in support of people who had fled overseas or organizations that called for sanctions against Hong Kong."  
That's it? They are accused of using a humanitarian relief fund to accept money from overseas organizaations in support of people who had fled overseas or organizations that called for sanctions against Hong Kong?  And even if they did so, would this truly pose a danger to the national security of China -- you know, that country with 1 billion people that most people in the world view as a major superpower, and one with nuclear weapons and other impressive technologies that it can call upon?! 
More from The Standard article: "Officers searched the homes and offices of the 10 with a court warrant and seized documents and electronic communication devices.  In the afternoon, Yip was brought back to the Talentum Bookshop on Waterloo Road, Yau Ma Tei, by officers to search for evidence."
More than by the way, other media have identified that bookshop as a Catholic bookshop. And over on Twitter, you have a netizen writing thus: "I've been to that bookstore numerous times. As far as I know they only sell religious books, and the staff are super-nice. We don't know the details yet of course, but it looks like the social justice mission of Christians could be increasingly at odds with [the Hong Kong government's national security law] obsession."
A perspective, I suspect, that's shared by Cardinal Joseph Zen.  The same Cardinal Zen who is a former trustee of the 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund along with senior barrister Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee, fellow legislative councillor Cyd Ho Sau-lan, Cantopop singer-activist Denise Ho Wan-see and cultural studies scholar Hui Po-keung.  And also the same Cardinal Zen who has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize along with fellow Hong Kongers Jimmy Lai, Chow Hang-tung, Gwyneth Ho, Lee Cheuk-yan and Joshua Wong!  And the same Cardinal Zen who, if the national security police are unable to kerb their zealousness, may end up being arrested again along with his fellow former fund trustees -- not something I want to be see but, sadly, something that we cannot discount happening in national security law-era Hong Kong! :S 

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Spotlight on Anna Kwok and her parents, thanks to the Hong Kong national security police

They are trying to silence you but stay strong!
I met up with a friend at a cafe that's part of the Yellow Economic Circle yesterday afternoon.  On the whole, we had an enjoyable time; this even though our conversation covered subjects that made my friend want to tear up (in sorrow, as opposed to laughing too hard). And by the time we parted, I was in a better mood than when when I had set out to meet her; seeming as just minutes before I left my place, I received a message from a fellow Yellow Economic Circle supporter revealing that she had recently joined the exodus and left Hong Kong.
For the record: Anna Kwok is the executive director of the U.S.-based political lobby group, the Hong Kong Democracy Council.  At 26 years of age, she is the youngest of the eight Hong Kong activists who have had a HK$1 million bounty placed on their heads by the Hong Kong government and who Hong Kong Chief Executive "John Lee has vowed to pursue the eight activists for the rest of their lives."
As the Radio Free Asia article that came out yesterday noted: "So far, police have targeted the relatives of former pro-democracy lawmakers Nathan Law and Dennis Kwok, U.S.-based businessman Elmer Yuen and U.K.-based veteran labor activist Christopher Mung, also known as Mung Siu-tat."  So it was not unexpected that the police would target the relatives of a fifth individual on that list -- but still surely very upsetting.  (I mean: I'm not related to any of them and I'm already felt emotionally impacted by this development!  So imagine if one were!)
So it was understandable that Anna Kwok did not immediately issue a statement about the police having taken in her parents for questioning.  But when she finally did so this morning, she did so incredibly impressively.  The following is the first part of a long thread she posted on Twitter (or X, as its owner wants it to be called) in Traditional Chinese followed by the English translation:
回應政權帶走父母:面對恐懼的抉擇 香港族群由每一個人組成,每個人由每個選擇而成。我們繼續堅持一直選擇自由。不悔不忘,堅定己志。 (以下為回應全文)
Responding to Regime Taking Parents Away: Choices in the Face of Fear The Hong Kong ethnic group is made up of everyone, and everyone is made of each choice. We continue to insist on freedom of choice all the time. Don't regret, don't forget, be firm in your will. (The following is the full text of the response)
And if you have access to Twitter, I highly recommend that you read the entire thread.  And if you don't: here's reporting that she apologises to her parents but also states her determination to continue doing what she thinks is right.  
As reported on by AFP, Anna Kwok stated that: "Yesterday my parents were questioned, harassed and intimidated. Even though I feel apologetic, I must say this is a price I expected to pay".  Also: "Kwok said she would continue to resist and called on Hong Kongers to confront fears stemming from the political environment.  "I choose to overcome my fear and continue to seize the initiative for my life," she said."
Something else reported by the AFP (which had not been made clear in some other reports): "Kwok's parents were allowed to leave the police station after questioning on Tuesday and were not arrested".  Thank goodness for small mercies.  And I hope that they and their daughter -- someone that a government that's genuinely of the people would be proud to have representing the people (rather than be intent on hunting her down, and causing harm to her and her family) -- can, and will, stay strong.

Monday, August 7, 2023

Artistic, food and music matters that are (negatively) affected by politics

A highly prized (and ultra delicious) portion of sushi
whose otoro came from Shiogama

Last week was the first week in a long while when I didn't blog (much) at all about politics and instead, waxed lyrical about an old Hong Kong movie, a supermoon and beautiful Hong Kong sunsets.  Sadly, the first blog post of this new week is going to address matters affected by politics -- though they pertain too to art, food and music: the kind of subjects that, ideally, (also) would bring happiness and satisfaction into one's life rather than anger and frustration.
And since it now looks like the Fukushima nuclear station will begin begin releasing its wastewater as soon as the end of this month, it means that Hong Kongers will soon stop being to enjoy delicacies such as Miyagi oysters and tuna from Shiogama.  Also, if the ban is also on products that involve inland water in their production -- as might be the case since the 10 Japanese prefectures on the list include landlocked ones! -- maybe even sake and beer?!  Now that would really seem unscientific!  And for the record: a number of the listed prefectures (including Nagano, Niigata and Ibaraki) are home to highly regarded sake breweries (such as those which brew Wataribune and Masumi sake!) while Saitama is home to the famous Coedo beer!

Over on Twitter (yes, I still don't think of it as X!), Ming Pao's Alvin Lum noted that "Leave to appeal from the same judge is required before matter heads to the Court of Appeal".  Things being the way they are in Hong Kong, I wouldn't be surprised if the judge gives that "leave to appeal" -- and for his decision to be overturned at the Court of Appeal.  But I also have been pleasantly surprised by some pushbacks along the way.  
So, well, hope springs eternal.  Or as the proverbial "they" say: Expect the worst but hope for the best (or, at least, some good to happen at least every once in a while -- because, well, if one doesn't do that, than one might just want to give up, on the fight, Hong Kong and even life itself)! :S