‘Central Centre’, as Cheung Kong’s shiny Sheung Wan skyscraper is called in Chinese, hosts a road safety promotion for school kids today. Conspiracy theorists might suspect that Central and Western District Council, the HK Police, the Federation of People Who Worry About Youth and landlord tycoon Li Ka-shing are holding the event as a way to let youngsters get out of class without having to join the evil foreign-backed pro-democracy boycott. Road safety tip number-one: do not sit in the street.
For students and other activists, this week has been one long series of pro-democracy gatherings and teach-ins. Youthful idealism has come to the fore as protestors have issued ultimatums to the Central People’s Government and marched off to Government House to arrest Chief Executive CY Leung. The cops have done their best ‘unimpressed but patient’ act, while the local leadership tries to sound reasonable without appearing too treacherous in the eyes of Beijing’s paranoiacs. Just when you thought the Communist-backed Wen Wei Po was the one media outlet you could go to without encountering student activist Joshua Wong, there he is – a mega-expose, in which the kid is caught working for the CIA and blatantly consorting with green-eyed white devils, not to mention Gladys ‘British not Chinese’ Li. By not detaining Joshua on public security grounds, the Hong Kong authorities are essentially calling the newspaper’s patron – the Chinese government – a liar. Instead, they bar pro-dem assemblies from certain public spaces because patriotic groups will use them. It’s an interesting balancing act.
The pro-dems – at least the post-teens among them – realize that Beijing is not going to give way on the political reform proposals for 2016-17. This is presumably why next week’s Occupy Central has been downgraded to a low-disruption Occupy Central-lite on a public holiday. The Police are now inviting the movement to go a step further and ‘occupy’ Chater Road during the two public holidays on which it would anyway be pedestrianized and full of people sitting around. In which case, you might as well stay at home.
I declare the weekend open with some hilarity I had missed. One of the little mysteries of life in Hong Kong concerns the South China Morning Post’s George Chen. While the paper is hardly short of insipid columnists, this one’s are so shallow you couldn’t drown an amoeba in them. Various theories of the rich-kid-guanxi sort circulate for those who can be bothered. He has received some sort of not-very-exclusive scholarship thing at Yale University (you can nominate yourself for it). This provoked controversy over there, but it hasn’t stopped him filling his columns with even more smug and puerile stuff about his privileged Ivy League existence. Culminating in this. Have a sickbag ready – it’s pretty horrible. But then get to the best bit: the readers’ comments. Ouch. Where’s that self-censorship when you need it?