Solicitors thrash United Front

The week closes on a bright note in the form of a Law Society squabble most of us don’t really understand in deep detail, but basically: good triumphs over evil.

Not many of us spare much time thinking about solicitors. They’re the breed of lawyer who scrape a living doing photocopying – or as they call it, ‘conveyancing’. Triads, money-launderers and bankrupts depend on them to use paperwork and form-filling to make nastiness look legitimate or to issue veiled threats. They are typically not to the manor born, but unpolished and locally and relatively modestly educated sons of the upwardly mobile lower-middle. They tend to be short, shifty-looking and have hair and fingernail problems.

The big contrast, of course, is with barristers. Barristers are authentic Beautiful People: tall, rich, intellectual, glamorous and spotless. They are cosmopolitan and speak English better than the Queen. And they are noble; they stand up in court and expose murderers’ evidence as lies, while ensuring the innocent always walk free. The saintly and fragrant Audrey is an obvious example. So is Ronny. And Martin. And of course they are pro-democracy.

The Law Society’s fuss concerned the grubby specimen in charge, one Ambrose Lam. He for some reason spoke approvingly of the Chinese Government’s ‘white paper’ defining Hong Kong as an ungrateful hovel of barbarians’ running dogs, incapable and unworthy of self-rule, and – specifically – suggesting that judges are mere pawns in a chain of command. Some other members of the profession challenged him and organized a vote of no-confidence.

Most of us would have shrugged at this apparent tiff and carried on. But then things got interesting. Having assumed the right to intimidate the media, rig opinion polls, turn chambers of commerce into puppets and bully thousands of workers into joining fake movements against democracy, the Communist Party’s local United Front decided it could hijack the Law Society through its usual, charming menacing-phone-calls-in-the-night tactics. Taking umbrage, the city’s solicitors made a point of turning out to vote in favour of the motion, leaving Ambrose Lam insisting that there were ‘no winners or losers’ in that hilarious way some people do when they have just suffered a horribly humiliating and crushing defeat.

More to the point, they faced down the United Front. He who lives by the proxy vote, dies by the proxy vote.  Like ducklings growing into very fine swans, or caterpillars transformed into dazzling butterflies, solicitors prove themselves as heroes.

Meanwhile, the less defiant and more easily cowed will be on the march this Sunday for the part-sad, part-grotesque Alliance for Peace and Democracy. Organizer, or more accurately ‘originator’, Robert Chow is still pleading for illiterate villagers, lunchbox-mongers and other participants to keep calm and, somehow, smile in the face of jeering bystanders. When he started his ‘Silent Majority’ against the pro-democrats, it was presumably a simple and harmless shoe-shining stunt with a view to boosting whatever cheesy business he runs. Next thing, it has been seized by Communist Party operatives and turned into a ludicrous and phony ‘movement’ mobilizing thousands of press-ganged workers as protest-fodder.

All eyes will be on the poor police, to see if they have been tainted by United Front influence and ordered to enforce an easier crowd-control regime than they apply to pro-democrats. Most of all, it will be fascinating to note the glumness and joylessness of the (mostly) reluctant or clueless marchers, pitifully clutching their HK$300 as they plod through the heat and humidity (the forecast is ‘no rain, but Seriously Sweaty’). I declare the weekend open with the offer of a special prize for whoever photographs the most miserable and morose-looking anti-democracy protester.


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