On the origins of creeping intolerance

The minute Wong stepped out of the elevator, four men in suits grabbed ahold of him and took him away … dragging Wong 300 meters away from the building [where] he lives. “They didn’t tell me who they were, nor explained the reasons why I had to be taken away. They were grabbing and pulling me. They were bending my wrists, and it felt very painful,” Wong says, showing us his bruises.

HK Magazine

It all sounds eerily ‘Mainland’. He was later charged with hooliganism and thrown in a mental ward for trying to complain about local corruption. Except it happened in Lam Tin. Security Secretary Ambrose Lee reacts badly to the report in the scurrilous Next Magazine that he and Chief Secretary Henry Tang met Mainland officials the week before Vice-Premier Li Keqiang’s visit to Hong Kong. The suggestion is that the extraordinary levels of security surrounding Li were ordered by Beijing, including no doubt special advice on how plainclothes cops should snarl while dragging wearers of T-shirts away and digging up dirt on their past criminality (non-payment of a jaywalking fine, apparently).

The idea that Mainland officials guided police behaviour for that three-day period is hugely controversial. The post-1997 arrangement is supposed to hinge on absolute autonomy for Hong Kong in domestic matters. It’s debatable whether the presence of one of the top members of the imperial court is ‘domestic’ or ‘national’, but any conceivable apparent infringement is viewed with alarm as a step down the slippery slope into the abyss of communist totalitarianism. That was why half a million of the middle class split for Canada back in the 80s and 90s.

In some ways, though, it would be reassuring to learn that Mainland officials were in fact behind the over-the-top security on 16-18 August. The alternative explanation is that the local authorities took it upon themselves to clamp down on protestors and residents guilty of willful deportment of T-shirts with malice aforethought. If that were the case, it would be a serious stepping up of the tendency towards growing intolerance that has been emanating from somewhere in the Security Bureau hierarchy in recent years.

This has taken the form of tougher curbs and conditions on protests, pretty obviously designed to make marching physically unpleasant and not worth doing a second time. It has also manifested itself in the shape of social conservatism, with gays forbidden to dance on an anti-homophobia march, and – funnily enough – police raiding a chain of clothes shops in search of subversive T-shirts. In the background, we also had a spate of harsh rulings by the Obscene Articles Tribunal. And there was that attempt to sneak creationism into the high school biology syllabus.

If there is a conspiracy here, it is not creeping Communism but infiltration of the power structure by fundamentalist Christians – of which Ambrose Lee is one (not to mention Secretary for Justice Wong Yan Lung and Secretary for Constitutional Affairs Stephen Lam). While the Chinese Communist Party is, arguably, gradually loosening its grip on society, some Evangelicals seem to be on a global mission to establish a theocracy of their own. If we’re lucky, it was just Beijing borrowing the local cops for a few days.

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19 Responses to On the origins of creeping intolerance

  1. Ambrose says:

    “Slaves, obey your human masters with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ.” (Ephesians 6:5)

  2. Sir Crispin says:

    Somehow the thought of the evangelicals being in charge scares me more than the commies.

  3. R Lloyd says:

    I also feel that in the SAR with its own Noahs Ark and creationist museum in public Park that there is more than a touch of this going around.

    Perhaps someone should have a quiet word with our friends in the North on the problems Beijing had last time a “Fundamentalist” “Christian” religion took hold in Southern China.

  4. Real Tax Payer says:

    My oh my …… we do live in some interesting times !

    BTW, has it ever occured to anyone who is a fundamentalist Christian how Noah ever found the time to sail over to Aussie-land to drop off the kangaroos ( not to mention NZ to drop off the kiwis ) ?

  5. Probably says:

    Fundementalist christians? Creationism? Heretics the lot of them. Personally I hold true belief in Pastafarianism and worship at the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Help spread the truth

  6. Maugrim says:

    In my experience here in HK, the one group who does things under the ‘i’m surprised, they should know and behave better’ category? The Police.

  7. expat says:

    Yes the REAL threat to HK comes from a handful of religious kooks, not millions of mainland cadres eager to kick the shit out this place.


  8. The Regulator says:

    The Secretary for Security has previously indicated in his asset disclosure to LegCo that he owns a residential property in his wife’s name in Sydney, for his retirement. The Australian Foreign Investment Review Board’s rules require a qualifying foreign purchaser of residential property to take up occupancy within a year.

  9. darovia says:

    He covers the sky with clouds, he supplies the earth with rain,
    and maketh the concrete grow on the hills.
    – Psalms 147:8 (as amended)

  10. Sir Crispin says:

    RTP, for that to have occurred to them, first they would need to be capable of critical thinking. Obviously they have ceded that to their pastors control.

    All hail his noddlely appendage.

  11. Iffy says:

    Forever and ever, ramen.

  12. Revolution says:

    I sometimes wonder how Stephen Lam reconciles the idea of adherence to the ten commandments with the job he does.

  13. Sir Crispin says:

    Let’s hope, “Yeehaw Jesus take the wheel” doesn’t take hold here. Then again, it might be better than the status quo here.


  14. Maugrim says:

    Strange, I’ve found the ‘lowest’ behaviour, particularly about matters such as an employee’s rights come from church based institutions in HK. Another group who should practice what they preach

  15. Stephen says:

    The weekend has opened and see you all in Church on Sunday

  16. Gerald says:

    Couldn’t help noticing there were leaflets in the HK Tourist Office at Star Ferry advertising Noah’s Ark…..

  17. Old Timer says:

    “I sometimes wonder how Stephen Lam reconciles the idea of adherence to the ten commandments with the job he does.”

    I don’t. Christians and politicians are both expert in denying the balatantly obvious, and making up stories to defend their standpoints. Lam can do it to the extent that he can play one off against the other, even deluding himself.

  18. Vile says:

    Religion was invented for the express purpose of getting the majority work to improve the lives of the privileged few. Imagine what would have happened if some random bloke had said to his fellow Egyptians, “Hey, you lot, go and build me some nice temples and, while you’re at it, give me all your farm produce to distribute as I see fit.”

    Far better to make up a load of baloney about some god shhoting a load of stars into the sky and, by the way, we’re priests so give us all your stuff.

  19. chopped onions says:

    My church is in Wan Chai, it means every Sunday, and most evenings. Open to all, enthusiastic drinking of ” the blood of Jesus” is encouraged. Our favourite hymn? ” Oh cumall ye unfaithful” . Women with a past and men with no future are particularly welcome……..Amen!

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