The ‘Tacitus quagmire’, more like

The crux of the matter lies in the following questions: Did Lam really speak out against injustice on the afternoon of July 14? Did the HKYCA members really physically harass the Falun Gong group that afternoon? Did the police really “stand by and watch the Falun Gong group pestered” by HKYCA members as Albert Cheng suggested?

Not bad, for a Chinese Communist Party propaganda sheet. China Daily’s answers are forthright. Teacher Alpais Lam Wai-sze was essentially trying to deny anyone the right to speak back to the loopy quasi-Buddhist Falun Gong sect, whose socially disruptive exploitation of freedom of speech is on a par with the radical League of Social Democrats. If anyone was aggressive, it was the FLG. The police were totally impartial and had no choice but to act as they did to separate the pro-Communist HK Youth Care Association from the anti-Communist cult’s practitioners.

Alternatively, Lam is a heroine for standing up for liberty against an increasingly open and assertive Communist Party machine in Hong Kong manipulating the local police and fronts like the HKYCA and Parents’ Association. And she has pretty much the whole of Hong Kong behind her. The problem here is that this version comes from Epoch Times, which is part of… the Falun Gong. (The pro-Beijing conspiracy theory is that its lavish funding comes from the CIA – or your favourite anti-China force.)

We can say that the whole of Hong Kong with an opinion (30%? 50%? 90% of the total?) leans fairly strongly towards one of these two viewpoints. The clear majority are in the pro-Lam camp, concerned about police bias and free speech, while the anti-Lam brigade compensate with orchestrated noise about her bad language. The middle ground is sparsely occupied. The New York Times reports a third attitude: that it’s just a storm in a teacup. The fact that the drama is being covered in the NYT suggests that it isn’t. The fact that feelings are so high, and the split in the community is so glaring, suggests that this is serious. It might blow over, but not without leaving a yet bigger divide between the two sides. Every episode – National Education, the Occupy Central civil disobedience project, government officials’ alleged conflicts of interest, backlashes against Mainland shoppers, etc, etc – is like a sledgehammer striking a wedge in a big lump of wood.

It would be distressing enough to say that the Hong Kong government – as they say of our friend Tacitus’s contemporary, Nero – is fiddling while Rome burns, but they don’t have their act together to that extent. Executive Council convener Lam Woon-kwong does a well-intentioned touchy-feely thing with the Democratic Party, while some other genius on the same body (apparently) asks about stripping Alpais Lam of her Chief Executive’s Award for Teaching Excellence (and oh boy would that spice things up nicely).

In an ideal world, Chief Executive CY Leung would go over to Beijing’s local Liaison Office with two messages. First, call off the United Front and rogue patriotic groups’ screeching about Alpais, Occupy Central, National Education, the lot. You can switch it back on later if necessary, but right now it is provoking a feedback loop that is tearing society apart. Second, give full blessing and behind-the-scenes string-pulling support for at least one or two big, eye-catching distractions. An obvious one would be a swift official start to the political reform process, with a clear indication that loud and unelectable pro-democrats will be allowed on the ballot. Another would be a serious emergency re-housing programme for the 100,000 or so people in the worst illegal/unhealthy subdivided slum accommodation – cutting through all the building codes and zoning BS to get every family into somewhere decent if temporary in, say, two years. Something no-one can whine about. Instead, CY the increasingly wanabe wolf is, perhaps, waiting by the phone. It is all undoubtedly and intensely interesting. As China Daily might put it, the crux of the matter lies in the question: where does it end?

Curiosity got the better of me. In case you were wondering: it is a real name.

“I received in my own hand a little bit of masticated fish she spit out…”

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12 Responses to The ‘Tacitus quagmire’, more like

  1. Bela Lugosi says:

    As said, there is a danger in being too rational looking at the pot instead of the steam. It’s not about politics or ideas or movements. It’s about dogmas, emotions and tribes. Those shape world events. They may even shape Hong Kong events.

    Similarly, we lose perspective when looking at the series of corruption scandals surrounding CY Leung. Crooks like us to get lost in details. But CY is the centre of it all: he knew them, accepted their support, appointed them, promoted them, protected them.

    The key question remains the same as was asked of Nixon, when All The President’s Men were falling around him: “What did the President know and when did he stop knowing it?”

    Follow the money, said Deep Throat. Nixon was really more annoyed about investigations into his personal financial affairs than about Watergate. He hit the roof when the Special Prosecutor started looking at how he had acquired his villa in San Clemente.

    How does a man who had nothing get a house on the Peak in just a decade or two? Perhaps we ought to be looking at bricks and mortar instead of trellises. Now there’s where rational analysis might turn up something fruity. Who knows?

  2. NENT PropertyDeveloper says:

    I suspect that CY is not allowed to speak directly to the Other Government of Hong Kong unless spoken to, if only because the media would pounce on visits. At best he can/could send them his plans, wait a while, then proceed if they don’t lay into him.

    Your metaphor, and indeed nuanced grasp of the situation, beats Alex Lo’s hands down. The problem with his sensationalist image of HK as a tinder-box is (a) a bit of summer rain might dampen things and (b) tinder is used to light a much larger fire above it, rather revolutionary notions I would have thought for the PCMP.

    Your idea of HK as a block of wood about to split asunder implies that that would be it, that the world might carry on as normal afterwards.

    Dr Bela’s words, asking us to look at the big picture, are wise. You can never win arguments with the CCP and its agents as they are protected by multiple smog screens, and play three-card tricks with leaks and feints. Appeals to legality or morality will just fall on deaf ears. Money is everything; they only start to squeal when numbers, rather than principles, are evoked; China will ultimately rise or fall on its economic policy, which, fortunately, involves global affairs.

  3. Karen Eliot says:

    Amon Düül II… may I hazard to suggest this is from the soundtrack of a well-spent youth?

  4. Yes, Bella, it is what did CY know and when did he know it.

    That’s why Paul Chan’s assisstant resigned so quickly. No questions now on the timing of his property transactions, which really seemed fishy to me. It was as if he’d been told during vetting by Team CY to transfer specific assets to extended family.

    And of course all of this shameless property corruption is exactly what NTSCMP suggested over a decade ago was in the cards from CY, and this is why CY can’t move the folks that bolstered Paul Chan’s portfolio of shell corps out of subdivided flats to public housing. Instead CY removes minimum property bids and sells off a bunch of land at rock bottom prices in the name of housing housing housing, and the result is a stockpiling of land by his CronYs and a Titanic drop in housing starts.

    And no Alpais wasn’t trying to deny anyone the right to speak back at FLG, just suggesting that it’s not the place of the police to cordon off 3rd parties from monitoring the manner in which the CCP’s United Front agents respond to FLG. But as with the Party being subject only to intraparty discipline and not the law, the United Front doesn’t want their watchers to be watched by folks not subject to Party discipline.

  5. NENT PropertyDeveloper says:

    Apologies, when I wrote Alex Lo’s “tinder-box”, I “of course” meant Michael Chugani’s “powder keg”, which is in fact even more inflammatory.

  6. Grog says:

    Chugani’s mind is a power keg that appears to have already gone off. If only he could transfer his rage in his column to the TV screen.

  7. Gin Soaked Boy says:

    I finally took the time to watch the YouTube clip of Ms LAM standing up for democracy. She approaches the police cordon line and seeks to break it. She is politely told to move away by a women officer. At which point Ms LAM goes bonkers with a stream of swear words and petulant feet stamping worthy of a six year old denied a toy. The cops remain polite and ask her to calm down. If this is the quality of the teachers in Hong Kong it explains why many things that are going wrong. I’ve got to say the cops showed considerable restraint. I witnessed a similar incident during occupy Wall Street in New York a couple of years ago, which ended up with the protestor thrown into a police van whilst handcuffed. And that’s in the land of the free. Perhaps Ms LAM need to try her approach in other jurisdictions and tell us the result.

  8. Adolf Shmitler says:

    @ Gin Soaked

    Maybe pull your head out of your gin bottle for a second or two. I have no effing clue what Youtube clip you watched. The clips I watched show a gang of HKYCA thugs shoving their way through a crowd and then begin manhandling Falun Gong and various onlookers and tearing down their displays. Mutual shouting matches ensue and some generous pushing and shoving, but when coppers finally do arrive they in effect completely ignore the commie thugs and begin policing up everyone EXCEPT THE commie mob. So WTF are you going on about? If I had been standing there and witnessed the whole thing I’d have a sharp word or two as well. It seems brutally obvious the cops had either been called by the commies or at some level had been clued in and were patently picking sides. The police are making no qualms that they are in effect the enforcement arm of the CCP in Hong Kong, no questions asked.

    I don’t give shits what Falun Gong rant on about… in fact they mostly sit quietly on sidewalks minding their own bloody business… but you seem to be advocating a Brownshirt Society where gangs of thugs, backed by the police, may run rampant and ransack whomever they please, but citizens should at all times remain poised and polite and calm, and preferably just not speak up at all.

    We’re very sorry Teacher Lam’s delivery did not meet your high standards of etiquette. I for one APPLAUD her courage in the face of naked aggression backed by the authority of the police.

    Some seriously useless c****s in this comment section.

  9. Joe Blow says:

    I started to read Hemlock’s little thingy but halfway or so my eyes were glazing……….tits……….Thai hookers………tits………..take out the garbage….titties…..cucumber……whip……Vagina Ip….

  10. Gin Soaked Boy says:

    @Adolf. Are you Ms LAM? The language suggests a connection. Now go and have a rest. Lastly, I suggest more sugar on your cornflakes.

  11. Sojourner says:

    I also am not sure which video Gin Soaked boy has been watching (tiresome grammar Nazi that I am, I suggest he puts a hyphen between Gin and Soaked unless he is implying that gin is the subject and boy is the object of his moniker).

    Ms Lam is indeed hot and bothered, though from my perusal of the clip she has every damn right to be. Her abuse apparently boils down to saying “What the fuck!” (and no, I’m not sorry for not asterisk-censoring), which is not my definition of abusing HK’s Finest as her detractors claim.

    It beggars belief that “thousands” would feel the urgent need to take to the streets over a teacher using the f-word to a copper. I wonder how many of them also attended the June 4 vigil to commemorate the memory of the hundreds butchered by the PLA, but I guess people have different priorities as to what gets their rag.

  12. Oneleggoalie says:

    …following Bela’s train going past the gas…Oneleg simply thinks…side with the Commies and persecute religious organisations…Commies will succumb to the Net soon enough…

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