Meanwhile, police officers who don’t believe in black magic are behaving themselves

“A police officer who believes in black magic has been arrested on suspicion of smuggling dead human fetuses” into Hong Kong. The South China Morning Post tells us his name: Barry Ma, or Constable Voodoo to his customers, who apparently pay some HK$130,000 for the things. Lesser cops would rack up huge gambling debts. It makes a change from speculating in car parking spaces.

Since Barry apparently adheres to the dark arts himself, we must ask what role sorcery plays in the course of his duties. Specifically, can he raise demons and poltergeists to get to grips with the illegal parking problem in our downtown areas? If all the drivers of huge, black, double-parked, eight-seat Alphards were suddenly possessed and drove into the harbour babbling in strange tongues with their heads spinning round, I could foresee a Bronze Bauhinia Star in it for him, rather than the red-faced and humourless disciplinary panel that presumably awaits him.

The SCMP delves into even weirder territory with a report that Chinese interests might buy the Financial Times. In all fairness, the SCMP writer almost immediately refutes his own suggestion by saying that such a deal is extremely unlikely. He assumes that the only potential Chinese buyer would be a (state-owned) media group. But why not a cash-rich private-sector entity from, say, the Internet, property or tech sectors? As Hong Kong (and the SCMP) knows well, there is a certain type of businessman who can’t resist the cachet and supposed political influence that goes with media ownership. It would be like having a huge wine collection, plus a Lear jet, plus a load of polo ponies all together – even if content-wise the paper would collapse immediately. Maybe an Indian conglomerate like Tata would have a better chance of rescuing the publication. Or Bloomberg after all.

The SCMP sees Nanfang, or Southern, media group as the most likely Mainland buyer. As it happens, the company is rather busy right now, caught up between heavy-handed censors and a range of protesting Southern Weekly staff, former staff, academics, netizens and even school students. The propaganda officials have clearly been caught on the back foot (background and updates here; pictures of the crowds in Guangzhou here.)

Hurt-sounding official commentaries are pleading for understanding about the realities of the limits of media freedom in China. Others are hinting that hostile external forces are somehow responsible – the Communist Party’s usual ‘if all else fails’ explanation for screw-ups. (The story is a gift to the Falung Gong, Al-Jazeera and all the other usual hostile forces, but that’s not the same thing.)

If this doesn’t die down of its own accord (they are desperately hosing down little online fires), there are some interesting scenarios. One is that Guangdong leaders pull off one of their Wukan-style conciliatory tricks and satisfy the protestors by essentially admitting official error. That means sacrificing some censors and a bit of face, and inviting future anti-censor protests, but keeps alive the claim that the new regime in Beijing is serious about reform. Another is that the Party reverts to standard killing-chickens-scaring-monkeys form and clamps down with arrests and full-on screeching righteous editorials about the superiority of the Chinese model. That snuffs the problem out, but sends everyone the message that, after all the song and dance, Xi Jinping simply equals another 10 years of the progressively choking grip on debate seen under Hu/Wen – a depressing way to start a new administration. You can’t blame them for trying to muddle through.

Acquisition of the Financial Times doesn’t really fit in this picture. As with so many of China’s ‘contradictions’, there is no apparent way out – unless maybe Constable Barry can cast a special Hong Kong Police demonic spell.

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11 Responses to Meanwhile, police officers who don’t believe in black magic are behaving themselves

  1. Maugrim says:

    I’m dining courtesy of plod (is the plural of plod, plodders?) this week and suddenly don’t feel so hungry. A pity, the curries are usually first rate. HK seems to be the only place where the police and Indonesian domestic helpers can get together and swap black magic recipies.

  2. Property Developer says:

    So the external forces aren’t bolshie dark-skinned HK judges or domestic unpersons after all, they’re renegade compatriots who have deliberately helped the rest of Canton to violate the guidelines. Perhaps fighting in the streets of Stanley will be the harbinger of nation-wide revolution?

  3. Lois Beluga says:

    Mmmm…reprinting pages from the SCMP..pernicious anaemia or just general old age?

    After some trepidation, I can now reveal that the design of the Henderson El Splendido de Confort Court flatlets (Hemlock passim) has been finalized.

    With combined kitchen and bathroom in an ergonomic unit and two full ensuite bedrooms, these flats can be built under any existing development. Ceiling height is a very generous five foot six.

    An added bonus is that the whole unit can be hidden behind an existing cellar wall…thank you CY!

  4. Msholozi says:

    Just had a look at Hong Kong Blogs Review and was amused to see this rather histrionic description of you rabble:

    “Judging by the comments and the majority of their writing styles — indirect, bitter, dismissive, and sarcastic — in this blog, one should keep in mind that the people who frequent this blog are in a minute percentage of the HK population and almost all of them are Chinese-illiterate. They do not and can not read the major Hong Kong news publications — in native tongue — that the natives read. Traditionally, they have little or nothing to do socially with HK’s majority population. Because of their political and soical isolation, they likely hold minority views and may be out-of-step and out-of-touch with Hong Kong’s mainstream.

    The steady decline of their political clout — what little they still have — and the shifting of political wind combined with their legendary exclusive nature only further increase their isolation from the everyday life of HK’s main population. It is plainly evident from these regular readers’ comments that they show no due respect to their host’s culture and live in a bubble of their own. Civility is a scarce commodity in Hemlock’s BIG LYCHEE.”

  5. PCC says:

    No civility? Tell him to f*ck off!

  6. Hendrick says:

    A few years back when working in provincial Guangdong I used to try to catch the English evening news relayed from HK’s TVB and ATV channels. As soon as there was any hint of a sensitive subject it would cut clumsily to a commercial, which was invariably a 5 minute+ breast enlarging advert with models, diagrams, cross sections and more, all achieved with injections and magic tablets. Often repeated back to back. More of a documentary than an advert. Compulsive viewing. On occasions the news content was as little as 5 minutes = sport.

    Justice Bokhary bears an uncanny resemblance to Alastair Sim. He’d make a wonderful Mr Scrooge.

  7. Hendrick says:

    The Big Lychee seems to have been down for a spell this afternoon.
    Cyber attack ? After all, reading the minds of the China leadership and disseminating said thoughts is tantamount to divulging state secrets.

  8. Walter De Havilland says:

    @Msholozi. I pointed out these observations some time ago. I wish to reiterate that the review says more about its authors then it does about people who express views here. Whilst the Big Lychee is undoubtedly Expat centric, the assumption about social isolation and Chinese literacy is plain wrong.

  9. Property Developer says:

    Don’t ye just love it when your own minority view goes mainstream? After an excess of mainland babies in Hollywood, Australia is now experiencing a dried milk shortage — guess why.

  10. Joe Blow says:

    I could have written that blog review myself. I would have added ‘reactionary’, ‘out of touch’ and ‘shriveled colonial pricks’.

  11. Tiu Fu Fong says:

    Does the lady appearing in the photographs adorning the Hong Kong blogs review get tired pulling all those earnest looks in those photos for her friend the photographer?

    “Expect a difference” – I like short, direct sentences as much as the next man and the jussive subjunctive excites me terribly, but difference from what exactly? I guess it’s left open to my imagination to grasp at the comparative possibilities as I wait for my friend the photographer to take another photo of me to put on my website.

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