CCP to get more piqued

by biglychee / Aug 9, 11:15

Beijing’s attempt to halt pro-independence activist Andy Chan’s forthcoming talk at the Foreign Correspondents Club is turning into a more glorious mess that anyone dared expect.

South China Morning Post columnist breaks with the party line apparently out of exasperation, criticizing Beijing for exaggerating the Hong Kong National Party as a threat, and for giving ammunition to China-bashers who can now highlight the Communist Party’s attacks on free speech.

It would probably be more accurate to say that this unfolding saga will highlight the fact that the Communist Party doesn’t give a damn about its reputation and is psychotic in its determination to crush any opposition.

Ever since Xi Jinping took over, China has been chipping away methodically at Hong Kong’s autonomy and freedoms. This is the first time the hammer and chisel have bounced back in the Party’s face.

It will not be gracious about it. The FCC lunch will no doubt take place unimpeded by rented mobs or overzealous cops – Beijing’s officials aren’t thatdumb, we more or less assume. But eradicating pro-independence ideas will become an even more urgent priority, calling for even less subtlety and charm.

And where are Chief Executive Carrie Lam and her administration in all this? Hiding in the corner looking petrified, hoping we don’t notice the idiocy of their position – supposedly representing Asia’s World City as a modern and free society while not contradicting their masters’ Leninist ravings and dismantling of rights.


Today’s criminals – tomorrow’s heroes?

Pro-independence activist Edward Leung walks inside a detention center before leaving for the High Court for a sentencing hearing in Hong Kong on June 11. Photo: Reuters

Pro-independence activist Edward Leung walks inside a detention center before leaving for the High Court for a sentencing hearing in Hong Kong on June 11. Photo: Reuters

by Stephen Vines / Jun 16, 17:30

Chief Executive Carrie Lam, her bosses in Beijing and the usual rabble of anti-democrats think that jailing Edward Leung and others for offenses arising out of the Mong Kok disturbances in 2016 can be seen as problem solved.

The fact that very harsh sentences were handed down adds to their pleasure.

However, the ‘strong message’ that was supposedly delivered by sentences of up to seven years in jail may well strengthen the resolve of those who believe that the system is unjust.

Among the cheerleaders for these tough sentences are members of organizations that were responsible for the far more serious 1967 unrest.

Under today’s new order the rioters of yesterday have been rewarded for their actions and they and their successors now occupy positions of influence. Back in 2001 the government went so far as to bestow its highest honor on Yeung Kwong, the leader of the Hong Kong and Kowloon Committee for Anti-Hong Kong British Persecution Struggle, which coordinated the riots.

History has a way of changing the prism through which insurrection is viewed. The brutal facts of life are that yesterday’s rebels and ‘criminals’ are transformed into heroes as the pendulum of history swings.

Meanwhile we are left with a messy situation in which the judge, Anthea Pang, has been widely criticized for the harshness of her sentencing.

The jail sentences she handed down are breathtaking in their severity compared to punishments given when Hong Kong was seized by the 1967 Cultural Revolution spillover riots, leading to the deaths of at least 51 people. Thousands of bombs were planted and 802 people were injured. Among the dead were ten police officers. Despite this mayhem and loss of life most of those found guilty of taking part in the rioting were sentenced to some two years in jail.

So there is definitely some imbalance here but criticizing judges is a tricky matter, albeit hardly unknown. The appeals system implicitly acknowledges this fact. Appeals are made on points of law and procedure; they do not consider questions of a judge’s motives or supposed bias. Yet Justice Pang has been accused of both bias and political motives for her judgment.

Judges are human but it is extremely hard to prove motivation behind judgments, however it is possible to make general observations, such as those made by legal scholar Benny Tai who said that this ruling reflected a strong ‘pro-order mentality’ which was common among the judiciary.

Others in the legal profession have gone further and pointed out that career advancement in the judiciary is in the hands of political officials who, in the current climate, are highly likely to favor judges seen as delivering a strong response to protest.

Then there is the question of the public order law under which some of the charges were made. Chris Patten, the city’s last British colonial governor, noted that these laws were open to abuse as they were loosely worded and amounted to a catch-all for rounding up people engaged in protests.

It is interesting to note that instead of responding to the substance of Lord Patten’s views, the usual suspects have focused entirely on the question of whether he has a right to express any view at all. However he clearly has a point because catch-all legislation is a dangerous thing when placed in the hands of an authoritarian-minded government.

The extent to which this is so is reflected in the number of politically-linked prosecutions that have been launched in recent years. Then, of course there are countless other manifestations of intolerance towards opposition, not least the delivery to the police of bigger and better anti-riot vehicles.

Lam’s general mindset was, perhaps inadvertently, revealed when she responded to a question in Legco as to whether the government was prepared to launch an independent inquiry into the causes of the Mong Kok unrest. The chief executive enthusiastically quashed this idea and demonstrated that, like her predecessor, CY Leung, she believes that the unrest was the result of some kind of external conspiracy.

Leung, it will be remembered, said he had ‘irrefutable evidence” that the Umbrella Movement was the work of some undefined overseas conspiracy. Unsurprisingly he has yet to produce this evidence.

Lam seems to believe that what happened in Mong Kok is somehow down to unnamed ‘educators’ who were behind these events. She thinks that unveiling this conspiracy is more important than getting to the bottom of why so many people are prepared to take to the streets to protest.

While she and Leung are busy with conspiracy theories they might like to take time to consider how history works. Putting people in jail for long periods of time does not thwart protest but it does create martyrs and encourage others to take to the streets.

Lord Patten criticises Public Order Ordinance following sentencing of Edward Leung

by Hong Kong Watch / Today, 14:46

On 11 June 2018, Edward Leung Tin-kei was sentenced to six years in jail jail for rioting. Lord Patten and other UK politicians expressed their concerns about the sentencing.

Chris_Patten_-2008-10-31-.jpgEdward Leung Tin-kei has been convicted of rioting under the Public Order Ordinance on the basis that an event is a riot if an ‘unlawful assembly’ leads to a ‘breach of the peace.’ The vague definitions of ‘unlawful assembly’ and ‘breach of the peace’, coupled with the extreme potential sentencing, has ensured that the law has been widely criticised.

In the 1990s, Lord Patten reformed the Public Order Ordinance to bring it in line with international standards, but the reforms were reversed by the ‘Provisional Legislative Council’ selected by the Chinese government in 1997.

Lord Patten of Barnes, the last Governor of Hong Kong, said:

‘We attempted to reform the Public Order Ordinance in the 1990s and made a number of changes because it was clear that the vague definitions in the legislation are open to abuse and do not conform with United Nations human rights standards. It is disappointing to see that the legislation is now being used politically to place extreme sentences on the pan-democrats and other activists.’

The United Nations have repeatedly highlighted that ‘the Public Order Ordinance could be applied to restrict unduly enjoyment of the rights guaranteed in article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights’.

Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, a leading barrister who led the UN trial of Slobodan Milosevic in the Hague and was previously the senior barrister member of the Bar Standards Board that regulates the barristers of England and Wales, expressed concerns about the use of extreme sentences as a deterrent. He said:

‘I met Edward in 2017 and was struck by his articulate, gentle, personable character as well as his youth. He is clearly a talented young man who has enormous potential if given a proper chance. I am quite unable to see that Edward’s actions warrant him spending formative years of his life in jail. The sentencing today, clearly designed as a deterrent to mute further protest, will not help this bright, able and penitent young man who deserves a second chance. It is easy to think that imprisonment in this case is simply unjustified. It may be seen as a mean but dangerous act by those in this delicate world who still believe in the values of democracy. Sentencing politically troublesome young men to achieve collateral objective rarely works and often backfires – in the end’

Edward Leung will face a retrial for another rioting charge for which he was previously acquitted.

His sentencing is the latest in a series of political trials against pro-democracy figures. Fiona Bruce MP, the Chair of the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission, said:

‘Edward’s sentencing should not be seen in isolation. It is only one of many examples of the Hong Kong government using the law to intimidate the pro-democracy movement and curtail freedom of expression. It is shocking that one in three pro-democracy legislators and more than one hundred protestors have been prosecuted by the government since the Umbrella Movement of 2014. This is an unacceptable crackdown which has a chilling effect on the pro-democracy movement, forcing people into self-censorship and silencing opposition.’

JUNE FOURTH, 2018: Same Defiant Slogan, Same Localist Counter-Current

by Suzanne Pepper / Today, 14:01

On June 4, 1989 all eyes were focused on Beijing and the Chinese government’s use of the People’s Liberation Army to clear protesters from Tiananmen Square. They had been camped out there for weeks in an unprecedented show of student-led popular defiance. Throughout all the years since, the Chinese government has imposed official silence, a total ban on all public mention of those events, the casualties inflicted by the use of military force against unarmed civilians, and the suppression of China’s own 1980s democracy movement that had culminated in the occupation of the square.

Many protest leaders fled the country via Hong Kong where the events of June Fourth probably had a more traumatic impact than they did anywhere else outside China. The crisis could not have come at a worse time since the city was just then preparing for the 1997 return from British to Chinese rule and reignited all the old fears about communist oppression.

The practice began immediately, in 1990, of commemorating the date by paying tribute to the dead of Tiananmen Square and the custom persisted after 1997.

Despite his best efforts, the new government’s first Chief Executive, Tung Chee-hwa, failed to persuade Hong Kongers to “lay down the burden of June fourth,” as he put it. But he only implored and admonished.

His government did not to enforce the national ban, allowing Hong Kong to become the only territory under Chinese rule that enjoys the right to remember this painful episode from China’s political past with large-scale public commemorations. Small memorials are sometimes held in the former Portuguese colony of Macau, but they are discreetly low-key.

Hong Kong’s candlelight vigil has been held in Victoria Park on the night of June Fourth every year since 1990. Some who move in official circles, including Hong Kong’s current Chief Executive Carrie Lam, have even taken to boasting that it proves Hong Kong’s rights and freedoms remain intact.

ATTENDANCE: Why and Why Not?

For Hong Kong itself, the vigil has become a kind of litmus test used by sympathizers and detractors alike to assess the public’s political mood. Do Hong Kongers still care enough 29 years later, to exercise their freedom of political expression in this way? Is attendance up or down? Who comes out and why?

If attendance is up, that might mean any one of several things: continuing generalized defiance, or dissatisfaction over the roadblock Beijing has thrown up against the long-promised goal of democratic elections, and over many other accumulating political grievances. Attendance is also up on ten-year anniversaries; and when special tributes are in order as with the illness and death of key leader Szeto Wah; or in hopeful anticipation of some new challenge in the offing.

If attendance is down, that might indicate growing public acceptance of Chinese rule. Or it might simply reflect cynicism, or that people are becoming resigned to Beijing’s meddling in local political life and see no point in continuing to resist.

Or it might mean not resignation but total rejection. This follows from the new … since about 2011 … ideas about city-state autonomy and independence. According to their adherents, these advocacies negate the need to commemorate 1989 because June Fourth and Tiananmen Square signify an identity of interests between Hong Kong and the mainland that need not exist. This line of reasoning is for those so alienated that they want to pull down the shutters, close the gates, and reject all reminders of Hong Kong’s cross-border associations.

For one reason or another, the indicators this year were all in negative territory. The University of Hong Kong’s Public Opinion Program (HKUPOP) carries on with its custom, begun in 1993, of taking the public pulse every year with a pre-June Fourth survey. It’s designed to assess Hong Kongers’ views about human rights in China and the June Fourth crackdown. But the survey reflects the identity of interests between Hong Kong and the mainland that autonomy advocates today want to disavow.

Attitudes this year, more than two decades after the survey was designed, were at near record lows … as though respondents were not impressed by the state of human rights in China but were also losing interest in June Fourth itself.

Some 47% thought human rights conditions in China had improved since 1989. But that was the second lowest view of conditions in China since polling began. Respondents who thought conditions had actually worsened since 1989 was, at 28%, the most since the survey began.

Another key question was about vindication for the victims, that is, reversing Beijing’s negative “counter-revolutionary” verdict on the Tiananmen Square occupation. The verdict was officially used to justify the military crackdown. That particular political crime no longer exists, although its contemporary equivalent is almost as bad: subverting state power and related crimes.

One of the lead slogans for June Fourth memorial activities has always been vindication or “reverse the verdict.” But his year’s HKU survey showed that only 54% of respondents cared enough to advocate reversing the official verdict and rehabilitating the Tiananmen offenders, with 24% actually against. As recently as 2013, these totals had been 62.8% and 15.7%, respectively (Apple, May 30, 2018)*

And this year another poll also gave campaigners cause for concern. It, too, was conducted by HKUPOP but commissioned by Anson Chan’s Project Citizens Foundation. She is a former top civil servant who has since become a senior member of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy camp. This poll fell into a trap so familiar that it’s surprising democracy campaigners are still laying it for themselves. But by asking a series of questions about what people value most, inevitably the issues that impact lives most directly receive top billing.

Respondents were asked about matters of public concern and to rank them on a scale of zero to 10. Public order, rule of law, and a corruption-free public environment were the top scorers, all ranking 9.2, with stability and freedom next. Democracy came in dead last with an 8.0 ranking (South China Morning PostAppleHKEconJournal, June 1). **

These are the kinds of questions the old colonial government used to ask in order to rationalize its failure to introduce political reform while prioritizing law-and-order. The answers are not too surprising since Hong Kongers are not accustomed to electing their own leaders and still unfamiliar with the tradition they have never really known.

All of which probably helps explain why Beijing leaders think they can get away with reneging on their original Basic Law promise of allowing universal suffrage elections here. In contrast, what happened on June Fourth this year helps explain why Beijing will not be able to get away with its growing effort to curb Hong Kong’s freedom of political expression.

But most negative of all was the message coming from the educated younger generation. The student unions representing Hong Kong’s main institutions of higher learning decided against formal participation in the June Fourth vigil. They have done the same in recent years, but this year they went a step further and decided not even to bother organizing any alternative events to mark the day. There was no point, they said, because there is nothing more to discuss.

They referred to a growing view among the younger generation that as Hong Kongers, they had no particular interest in what had happened on June Fourth and the cause of Chinese political reform that had motivated Chinese students in 1989. None of that has anything to do with Hong Kong today, say the students (AppleStandard, May 31; SCMP, June 1, 4).

This flies in the face of campaigners’ original 1990s view that Hong Kong cannot democratize if China does not do likewise. On the annual HKU survey, 31% of respondents said they felt Hong Kongers have no responsibility for advancing the cause of democracy in China, the highest proportion since the survey began in 1993. A majority, 56%, nevertheless answered affirmatively that Hong Kongers should maintain a continuing interest in that cause.

In fact, the younger generation’s new level of alienation dovetails neatly with the new ultimatum coming from Beijing. This concerns one key demand that June Fourth campaigners always raise with their slogan to “end one-party dictatorship” 【結束一黨專政】.

This year Beijing officials have gone out of their way to say that Hong Kongers can stand in the park and shout the slogan as much as they like. But that’s where the line must be drawn around Hong Kong’s freedom of political expression because the slogan is subversive of China’s Communist Party-led government. Those who insist on exercising that particular right will risk being barred from standing as candidates in future Hong Kong elections (May 23, 2018 post).

Even the weather bureau seemed intent on contributing to the gloomy mood with a prediction of rain likely on the evening of June Fourth!


Still, if anyone was influenced by Beijing’s ultimatum and all the negative indicators, it wasn’t readily apparent on any measure. Back at the beginning, in 1990, before the police were as diligent as they are today with their underestimates, a “full house” in Victoria Park on June Fourth, with standing room only on all the soccer pitches, was estimated by the police to contain 80,000 people (AppleSingTao, June 5, 2018).

Those of us with memories that go back that far can attest to the fact that on that first night, all the soccer pitches were full … just as they were this year. But as if by magic, 80,000 became 17,000, according to this year’s police estimate. Organizers claimed 115,000.

And there must have been some aspiring potential election candidates in the crowd. So, it’s going to mean big headaches for election officials if they actually try to enforce Beijing’s latest injunction and disqualify candidates for shouting the slogan. This is because instead of being shunted to the sidelines as happened a few years ago, it became a central feature of this year’s event.

The rain stopped just before the rally began at 8:00 p.m. But the ground was too wet for sitting so most everyone remained standing throughout and it would be impossible to say who shouted out the slogan when the call came at the end for a rousing final chant to “end one-party dictatorship.”

Organizers were as always leaders of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China. It was agreed that “end one-party dictatorship” must not be dropped from the agenda. Current Alliance leader Albert Ho Chun-yan 【 何俊仁】laments the alienation of today’s youth but remains as committed to the cause a he was in 1989. He says both China and Hong Kong should have democracy so by definition that would herald an end to one-party dictatorship (Apple, May 29).

There was some controversy a few years ago, in 2010-11, over the slogan. Critics claimed the Democratic Party, then chaired by Albert Ho, was going soft on the slogan in an effort to placate Beijing and possibly win concessions on political reform (June 14, 2011).  But not this year.

The lead slogans remained as always defiant and subversive: “Mourn June Fourth,” “Resist Authoritarianism,” “Release Democracy Movement Protesters,” “Reverse the Verdict on the 1989 Democracy Movement,” “Demand Accountability for the Massacre,” End One-Party Dictatorship,” “Build a Democratic China.”

The speeches, memorials, and tributes to the dead were all the same, and the sea of candlelight on the playing fields just as effective.

Critics insist it has become a ritualistic exercise held only for show. But they did sponsor a few alternative events on the sidelines just the same. One was a collection booth set up for the Justice Defense Fund, to help with legal expenses for the February 2016 Mong Kok “separatist” rioters many of whom are now serving prison terms. Another sideline event was a discussion group organized nearby.

Yet another was a small illegal gathering across the harbor in Kowloon, attended by Hong Kong independence advocates. It was illegal because they had been denied permission but went ahead and rallied briefly anyway (HKFree Press, May 4, June 4).

As for Beijing’s new resolve about disqualifying prospective election candidates who stand in the park and shout about ending one-party dictatorship, the real test is soon to come. First up will be Teacher Lau Siu-lai 【劉 小麗】 and veteran labor organizer as well as long-time Alliance leader Lee Cheuk-yan 【李卓人】.

Teacher Lau is one of the Legislative Councilors disqualified in the 2016-17 oath taking saga. She is planning to try and win back her Kowloon West seat in the coming by-election. But just in case she is disqualified, her back-up Plan B is Lee Cheuk-yan. He has agreed to run in the district if she cannot, although Lee actually has more strikes against him than she does.

Besides taking her oath-of-office in an improper manner two years ago, Teacher Lau led her group of supporters in the preparatory warm-up march two weeks ago. This is always held on a Sunday, before the main June Fourth vigil in the park. The march is usually small with just over a thousand people. But this year a special stand-alone banner demanding an “end to one-party dictatorship” was among those leading the procession … with Teacher Lau and her group following not far behind (AppleMing Pao, May 28).

As one of the original 1989 Alliance leaders, Lee Cheuk-yan has been present at just about every demonstration held since. He would also be among the least likely of anyone to consider recanting in order to win Beijing’s approval for qualification as an election candidate.





Posted by Suzanne Pepper on June 11, 2018.

The post JUNE FOURTH, 2018: Same Defiant Slogan, Same Localist Counter-Current appeared first on Hong Kong Focus.

No riot even took place, says Leung Kwok-hung

Bricks and lumps of concrete were hurled at police and fires started in Mong Kok over the Lunar New Year in 2016. File photo: RTHK

Bricks and lumps of concrete were hurled at police and fires started in Mong Kok over the Lunar New Year in 2016. File photo: RTHK
Disqualified lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung (centre) says the prison sentences handed down to Edward Leung and two others for rioting amount to 'political persecution'. Photo: RTHK

Disqualified lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung (centre) says the prison sentences handed down to Edward Leung and two others for rioting amount to ‘political persecution’. Photo: RTHK

Police and pro-establishment lawmakers have welcomed a six-year jail term handed down to Edward Leung for rioting in Mong Kok in 2016, but a supporter of the 27-year-old, former legislator Leung Kwok-hung, insists no riot had even taken place.

Leung Kwok-hung, known popularly as Longhair, was at the High Court as the prominent localist and two others were given their jail terms on Monday morning. 

The former lawmaker from the League of Social Democrats said the punishments were too heavy and amounted to political persecution.

“I don’t think there was a riot in Hong Kong in 2016. It was a political statement from the CE at that time, CY Leung, who claimed that there was a riot,” Leung Kwok-hung said.

“After that, the police and the legal department changed their stance and prosecuted those people involved in the… in the conflict, with the charge of rioting. And now the judge claims that she needs to deal with a very severe riot. So I think it’s wrong, the interpretation is wrong.”

In a statement, former Hong Kong governor Chris Patten criticised the Public Order Ordinance’s vague definitions that were being used against local activists.

“It is disappointing to see that the legislation is now being used politically to place extreme sentences on the pan-democrats and other activists,” Patten said in the statement that the London-based Hong Kong Watch said was issued after Leung’s sentencing.

The group’s website also carried statements issued by Fiona Bruce MP, the head of the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission and barrister Geoffrey Nice QC, criticising the sentences.

Civic Party leader Alvin Yeung said that it’s time to review the Public Order Ordinance. He said the public has feared since 1997 that the law would be used to target activists and opposition members.

But police chief inspector Tse Tsz-kwan welcomed the latest punishments over the Mong Kok clashes, noting the judge’s comment that the defendants had committed a very serious offence that was both organised and premeditated.

Legislator Priscilla Leung, from the Business and Professionals Alliance, said she believed the public would be happy with the jail terms handed down. 

“I think the prison sentences for these three defendants are long enough to serve as a deterrent effect for the future movements,” she said. 

“No matter how great your ideas and political thoughts are, you have to obey the laws in Hong Kong. Hong Kong has actually demonstrated the spirit of the rule of law by the sentences as well as the judgement.”

DAB chairwoman Starry Lee agreed that deterrent sentences were required in this case, saying lenient punishments would have had a “very negative effect on society.”

“The law is the law and using violence to destroy public order is a serious crime,” Lee said.

Jim Munson: As we remember June 4, we must not forget the democracy movement in Hong Kong

by Hong Kong Watch / Jun 7, 22:30

speech by the Honourable Jim Munson in the Canadian Senate on June 5 2018.  

  Senator Jim Munson  Senator Jim Munson

Senator Jim Munson is a Canadian Senator and a member of the Liberal Party. He is best known for his work in journalism. 

Honourable senators, I find it hard to believe that almost 30 years have gone by since the massacre in Tiananmen Square. Let there be no doubt, there was a massacre. I was there.

But if you live in China today, there is no record, absolutely no record of the pro-democracy movement. Talk about a rewrite of history.

On Sunday, the United States urged China to account for the ghosts of Tiananmen. In a statement, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke about the tragic loss of innocent lives by saying the United States joins others in the international community in calling on the Chinese government to make a full public accounting of those killed, detained or missing. He also said:

As Liu Xiaobo wrote in his 2010 Nobel Peace Prize speech, delivered in absentia, ‘the ghosts of June 4th have not yet been laid to rest’ . . . .

The Chinese dissident died in custody last year.

Honourable senators, what has not died is the spirit of those who still seek the truth. Imagine in Hong Kong just two days ago, tens of thousands held a candlelight vigil for the Tiananmen victims. They held candles, sang songs and chanted for democracy and an end to one-party dictatorship.

I wonder how long these voices will be allowed to speak freely, because in Hong Kong the grip of Beijing is slowly and methodically eliminating dissent. Freedom of expression in the media, at universities and in politics is being stifled.

According to Hong Kong Watch, a U.K.-based international human rights organization, more than 100 activists and protesters have been prosecuted.

Ed2.jpgA young man [Edward Leung] who was in my office just last year, returned to Hong Kong only to be arrested. Even two politicians, Yau Wai-ching and Baggio Leung, legally elected lawmakers in Hong Kong, were arrested in their legislative council chamber and convicted for what was described as illegal assembly in trying to retake their oaths and swearing allegiance to Hong Kong. Imagine this happening inside their legislative building.

Honourable senators, sometimes you have to stand up against the bully. Canada cannot afford to look the other way. Canada has a special relationship with the people of Hong Kong and the people of Hong Kong who live here. The former British colony was returned to Chinese control in 1997 with the promise of one country, two systems, for 50 years.

Honourable senators, on a hot and humid night in June 1989, I told a family who lost a child in Tiananmen that I would never stop speaking out about what I witnessed. I witnessed history, and it wasn’t pretty.

How lonely and tough it must be today for the Tiananmen Mothers who, in their bravery and annual open letter, said the Beijing government was guilty of serious disrespect by ignoring their requests for redress. I quote the letter:

“Such a powerful proletarian dictatorship apparatus is afraid of us: the old, the sick, and the weakest and most vulnerable of our society.”

The letter was addressed to Chinese President Xi Jinping. Honourable senators, I rest my case for this year.

Nine more jailed over 2016 Mong Kok riots

The clashes in 2016 saw pitched street battles that saw mobs attack police officers. File photo: RTHK

The clashes in 2016 saw pitched street battles that saw mobs attack police officers. File photo: RTHK

Maggie Ho reports

The District Court has jailed nine people found guilty of rioting charges over the Mong Kok unrest in 2016, while a teenager was sent to a training centre. 

At the start of the hearing, judge Kwok Wai-kin made clear that the court would not engage in any political debates over what had caused the riot. He also said the defendants had to bear collective liability for the rioting, on top of what each of them had personally done.

Among the defendants, 19-year-old Mo Jia-tao was jailed for four years and three months for rioting, throwing bricks and other items at policemen more than a dozen times, and damaging a police van. 

The judge said the defendant had used “serious violence” against police officers and had no regard for the law. 

He ruled out sending Mo to a training or detention centre, despite his young age, saying the need to punish him and deter others was greater than the need for his rehabilitation. 

The judge also noted that Mo was one of the first few people to charge a police cordon and this had encouraged others to follow suit.

Seven others were also jailed after being found guilty of one count of rioting.

The oldest among them, 72-year-old Chan Wo-cheung, was put in prison for 41 months. The judge said the defendant was in Mong Kok in the early evening, and had obviously stayed on to confront the police.

Chan’s lawyer had earlier told the court that his client became interested in social issues after his retirement, and had taken part in the annual July 1 rally as well as the Occupy protests to fight for the rights of the elderly and the underprivileged. He said Chan promised only to voice his opinions via “proper platforms” in the future. 

Another defendant, 19-year-old Yep Chi-fung, was sent to a training centre, where he will be detained for between 18 and 24 months depending on his behaviour. 

The only defendant who pleaded guilty to rioting, Ng Ting-kai, is autistic.

His lawyer said he just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time due to his condition. But the judge said Ng clearly knew what he was doing, as he was wearing a mask and also used the hood of his jacket to hide his face. 

The judge therefore refused to sentence Ng to community service as suggested by probation officers, and jailed him for two years and four months instead. 

An 11th defendant had absconded after she was charged.

The clashes during the Lunar New Year holiday of 2016 erupted after a dispute over the clearance of food vendors. Pitched street battles saw mobs attack police officers with bricks and sticks.


Last updated: 2018-05-31 HKT 18:18

Beijing’s puppets do some racism

by biglychee / Today, 10:45

Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing lawmakers decide some xenophobia is in order. The New People’s Party’s Eunice Yung decides to attack brown people for cluttering up the city and causing hygiene problems. And her DAB colleagues warn that white judges newly appointed to the Court of Final Appeal could undermine family values by promoting gay marriage, not to mention threaten national security.

Complaining about domestic workers gathering on Sundays goes back decades – maybe back to when the Yung family’s helper was changing Eunice’s diapers. It hugely angers some grumpy, miserable and frustrated Hongkongers that far lower-paid maids on their day off have the nerve to be so vivacious and happy.

The fact is that without cheap Filipino and Indonesian servants, the economics of middle-class Hong Kong would collapse: mothers would have to stay at home, and it would be impossible for single-income households to pay their mortgages. (Correction – the economics of Hong Kong’s tycoon-cartel scam would collapse.)

The foreign judges/gay marriage issues are examples of a major contradiction the Hong Kong government must try to live with.

As an ‘international’ business hub, the city needs some foreign judges at least as a symbol to reassure companies that the colonial-era legal system with an independent judiciary is intact. And, to compete as a location for regional HQs, it needs to issue visas to partners of high-flying expat executives, even when the spouses are same-sex (arrangements Hong Kong doesn’t recognize).

But as the loyal puppet of a Communist/nationalistic dictatorship, the local administration cannot contradict Beijing’s official ideology – that foreigners in general are suspect (unless they wash dishes), rule of law is abhorrent, and fusses about gay (indeed, any) rights are a threat.

The Hong Kong government faces similar dilemmas with press freedom, and with the overall positioning of the city as simultaneously international/pluralistic and patriotic/obedient. In the long run, Hong Kong will be rectified. Meanwhile, the local officials must wring their hands while juggling the incompatible demands of international business and the CCP. (You can’t wring hands and juggle at the same time? Quite.)

Taken aback by criticism (and maybe nervous about rat poison in her dinner that night), Eunice has taken some selfies with happy smiling brown people. And the DAB lawmakers dutifully endorsed the new judges (the CCP has devised ways to override the courts anyway, so can live with them).

With pro-democrats being ousted from the legislature, the pro-Beijing quasi-politicians are presumably being told to increase their profile. But their populism-pandering skills clearly need work.

US report challenges Beijing over HK autonomy – RTHK

The concerns raised in the State Department policy report included the approval of a plan to place mainland security agents and apply mainland law at the West Kowloon terminus of the express rail link. File photo: RTHK

The concerns raised in the State Department policy report included the approval of a plan to place mainland security agents and apply mainland law at the West Kowloon terminus of the express rail link. File photo: RTHK

The US State Department has questioned Beijing’s commitment to the ‘one country, two-systems’ principle saying it says one thing, but practises another when it comes to the SAR’s autonomy.

The State Department said Beijing had publicly and frequently reiterated its commitment to “One Country Two Systems” but its statements and actions were inconsistent with the commitment to the SAR’s high degree of autonomy. 

It made the comment in its latest policy report, which is issued under a 1992 law to allow the US treat the SAR separately from the mainland for matters concerning trade export and economics control after 1997.

Among the examples the report gave were the stipulation that a law criminalising abuse of the national anthem or flag be adopted by Hong Kong and the approval of a plan to place mainland security agents and apply mainland law at the West Kowloon terminus of the express rail link.

It also cited the barring of British human rights activist Benedict Rogers from entering Hong Kong.

However, the US said Hong Kong still generally enjoyed a high degree of autonomy in most areas, and this was more than sufficient to justify the city’s continued special treatment.

The SAR government has rejected the State Department’s comments, saying Hong Kong had been exercising a high degree of autonomy since the handover and Hong Kong people were administering the SAR “in strict accordance with the basic law”.

“This demonstrates the full and successful implementation of the ‘one country, two systems’ principle, which has been widely recognised by the international community,” it said in a statement issued on Tuesday night.

“Foreign governments should not interfere in any form in the internal affairs of the HKSAR.”

The weakest link in Hong Kong’s overall competitiveness

High-speed public Wi-fi coverage is one area where Hong Kong lags many international cities. Photo: HK GovtHigh-speed public Wi-fi coverage is one area where Hong Kong lags many international cities. Photo: HK Govt

by Ko Tin-yau / May 28, 08:24

Hong Kong has lost the long-time crown as the world’s most competitive economy, according to the latest rankings from the IMD World Competitiveness Centre.

Apparently, the key factor is a drop in Hong Kong’s score in infrastructure.

IMD evaluates competitiveness based on four major aspects– government efficiency, business efficiency, economic performance and infrastructure.

According to this year’s IMD ranking, Hong Kong continued to lead the world in government and business efficiency, and improved slightly in economic performance to 9th place from the 11th last year.

But on infrastructure, the city’s ranking dropped three places to 23rd in IMD report.

Strangely, in a separate ranking done by World Economic Forum (WEF) , the city came out as number one in its infrastructure ranking, despite the overall ranking being number six.

The sharp contrast between WEF and IMD lies in the way infrastructure is defined.

Specifically, WEF report largely focuses on physical infrastructure, including power, water supply, roads, railways, airports, etc. This is where Hong Kong has strength.

IMD break downs infrastructure into five sub-categories, namely basic infrastructure (such as power plants, roads, railways, airport, etc), education infrastructure, technological infrastructure, scientific infrastructure, and health and environment infrastructure.

It is our weakness in the last three items that contributed to the slip of Hong Kong’s IMD rating.

This is not difficult to understand. For example, many cities around the world already have high-speed Wi-fi coverage. We are still miles away from getting there.

Hong Kong lacks sufficient support for start-ups, scientists, research institutions in general. And the city also lags behind other global cities in introducing latest technologies.

In terms of healthcare, the city has the world’s best private hospitals, while the public healthcare sector struggles to meet rising demand.

Hong Kong has been investing heavily in physical infrastructure, such as high-speed railway, HongKong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge and the third airport runway. Local authorities need to bear in mind that the city should also beef up its competitiveness in soft infrastructure.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on May 25

Translation by Julie Zhu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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