Spaced-out losers on the march

At around 4pm yesterday Queens Road Central was the scene of a rare site: a marching band. (Inevitably, a quick glance at Google suggests that Hong Kong is in fact bursting with the things, but it’s the first time I recall seeing one, give or take occasional police bagpipers.) They were well-drilled, didn’t seem to hit any wrong notes in their unidentifiable repertoire and wore brightly coloured military-kitsch uniforms of the sort seen on musicians parading up and down the field before a US college football game.

Until I took a closer look…

Yes, it was the Falun Gong massed percussion and brass sections. The men were wearing sort of martial-arts pajamas, while the women sported what I can best describe as Taiwanese-housewives-at-the-beach gear. Most of the marchers were around middle age. I got the feeling at first that many were not Hong Kong Chinese; they seemed to have that sort of paler, flatter-faced Northern look. But maybe I was being misled by their true countenance – that of spaced-out losers.

Like Scientology, fundamentalist Islam or evangelical Christianity, FLG seems to grasp its own particular sort of convert. I heard one story of someone’s Beijing in-laws, 60-somethings of limited means, slightly bewildered by the modern world that had left them behind, whose physical and mental lives were massively transformed for the better by Falun Dafa, the ‘wheel-law great law’. This is the stereotypical FLG practitioner, for whom the movement presumably fills a vacuum. (Now I remember where I saw that female drummer’s serene smile before: the black-robed middle-aged women who swoop on visitors at a Taipei temple to hand out rice cakes to give thanks for answered prayers, usually concerning health.)

The 20-year-old FLG is not restricted to what might be called the aging and fading lower-middle class. Some prominent or wealthier Mainlanders in both private and public sectors joined it, and in the late 1990s the wacky, Qigong/Buddhist-derived faith took a zealous hold among a few of Hong Kong’s lesser tycoon caste, who began proselytizing among their peers here. That fizzled out quickly when, after Chinese TV began denouncing the movement’s medical quackery as dangerous and practitioners suddenly revealed themselves to be numerous and organized, Beijing launched a vicious clampdown on the ‘evil sect’.

As orders to eliminate the organization filtered down to local levels, the retribution became deadly. This persecution won the movement the sympathy of the West’s human rights activists, giving FLG something of the ‘darling’ status enjoyed by Tibet in The Guardian and the Wall Street Journal. FLG itself seems to spend at least as much of its extensive resources publicizing killings and the harvesting of body organs as it does spreading the word about Fa Rectification and the Falun Cosmic Orbit (even in Shqip, or Albanian). It has a newspaper and a TV channel, which once pulled off the rather nifty trick of hacking into a Mainland satellite feed. Some Chinese patriots believe the US funds it all.

Beijing struggles to counter the FLG overseas. At tourist spots in Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia and elsewhere (Singapore is less tolerant) practitioners force gory anti-Communist literature on Mainlanders. China can claim the support of its establishment Buddhists, who obviously don’t need rivals any more than the CCP does, but its violent and almost fanatical suppression of the FLG overrides the argument that the group is a nasty cult.

Does FLG have a sinister/charismatic/wealthy ‘master’ at the top? Yes (Li Hongzhi, in New York). Is it racist, homophobic and money-hungry? Yes, according to Wikipedia writers whose work is constantly removed by, presumably, loyal practitioners. And of course it sometimes discourages followers from getting normal medical care (as do many cults, apparently unconcerned about losing valuable adherents).

One reason for yesterday’s gathering was to protest against the Hong Kong government’s refusal to allow staff of the FLG’s lavish Shen Yun performing arts troupe to work in the city. There are certain lines Beijing will not permit the Big Lychee to cross, and admitting overseas FLG people is one of them. All grist to the sect’s persecution mill. This is what we’re missing (not really worth it, though I like the narrator’s rather fetching sinus problem). So all we have is the surprisingly good timing and curiously wistful cheer of their disconcertingly goblin-like band as they stride off into the Hong Kong sunset.

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10 Responses to Spaced-out losers on the march

  1. Tiu Fu Fong says:

    When I lived in Ultimo in Sydney years ago, not that far from it’s China Town, the Falun Dafa van was always parked outside my apartment building. Its tires were regularly slashed. FLG accused the Chinese consulate/embassy/trade mission of doing that, and it was probably not below the pettiness of Chinese embassy officials. On the other hand, the FLG people on the Dixon St mall would stand around with their pictures of tortured people, turning thousands of Chinese people off their morning yum cha and giving them motivation to slash the FLG-mobile’s tires too.

  2. Source Bernays says:

    Falun Gong is a CIA put-up job.

    The reason they look so spaced-out is that every third one of them is a CIA man on full crack allowance.

    Why don’t you join up? I guess the Brits can’t fund it, right? But they always expect a guy to turn up and observe.

  3. Longtimenosee says:

    Bernays and all the other alias’s that you have.

    I can’t even begin to express how much of a dumbass you are. It’s beyond words…
    I would be more eloquent and try to explain why, but then you can’t reason with a fanatic.

  4. Maugrim says:

    Goblin like band, my god, exactly what I was thinking.

    Mind you, yesterday must have been ‘the day’ for unusual garb, rehearsed dance steps etc. A number of different groups of Filippinas were doing a range of dances in smocks, with or without handerkerchiefs to wave. Synchronised Jesus worshipping? It was all too hard to tell.

  5. Stephen says:

    “Falun Dafa is Good” as the yellow banners say that greet visitors in a number of places favoured by mainlanders. Got to be good for the two systems part of the equation.
    Now for the guest list of mourners at Szeto Wah’s funeral ? Wonder if the one country will trump the two systems with a few well known internationally based omissions ?

  6. Ravio Li says:

    Ah, so that was that hoompah-noise I heard while I was admiring myself in the mirror of the gym.

    Am I the only one who finds this Teutonic marching-band music depressing?

  7. Spicy Tofu says:

    Shame I missed that, I’m always looking for another cult to join. Falun Dafa is up there with Scientology and Mormonism on the nutty-scale, but probably not on the price scale. The Mormons do have a decent choir though.

    If you want to find some more reliable source for this stuff, can’t get much better than Uncyclopedia 😉

  8. Darovia says:

    Falun Da Fa is much more than good. Any group that pi**es off the dyed hair brigade AND has a good goblin band deserves our support.

  9. ffwb says:

    FLG hacking into a Mainland satellite feed? What kind of fairy tale is that! Cable TV feed yes, but certainly not satellite.

    And your other insinuations
    …US funds it all….
    …FLG have a sinister/charismatic/wealthy ‘master’….
    …it is racist, homophobic and money-hungry….
    These are the standard diatribes straight out of the CCP propaganda machinery.
    You are either not smart enough to see through these lies or you are just a willing consumers of such lies because you don’t like FLG.

  10. BigWok says:

    ffwb: Is not a fairy tale, all that’s required is to be stronger at the satellite than whoever else is using it. First & best known example: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Captain_Midnight_%28HBO%29

    FLG guys probably did it from Taiwan. Over there, something sort of like our RTHK transmits FLG radio on shortwave (is not from the same facility, but same lot who have the radio station next to the Grand Hotel).

    Since that shortwave broadcast continues to this day (odd Mr Horse hasn’t stopped it), it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch that FLG’s shennanigans on AsiaSat a few years back (before Mr Horse’s time) were from a Chunghwa Telecom earth station.

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