Another stroll around Admiralty

Another week, another round of calls from the Hong Kong establishment for pro-democracy protesters to leave the streets. Some of the pleas come from hand-wringing moderates like Executive Council member WK Lam, desperately trying to convince the students – and probably themselves – that some sort of dialogue and push-button-for-instant-harmony solution is feasible. Some come from usually-apolitical business leaders like Swire Pacific’s John Slosar, dutifully trotting out the official line with little obvious enthusiasm.

The Hong Kong government, meanwhile, helplessly bats away pro-dem proposals totally unacceptable to Beijing while promising vague progress if only the demonstrators pack their tents. To keep things on the boil, the Chinese Communist Party’s United Front continues its orchestrated mouth-frothing, claiming to have collected what market analysts would style an ‘aggressive’ figure of 1.5 million signatures against the Occupy Central/Umbrella movement.

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The government’s tactic (or default position in the absence of one) is to wait it out and hope the tent-dwelling occupiers of the streets will finally overstay their welcome and bow to growing community hostility. As well as the hired thugs and bussed-in anti-Occupy losers, some of the great Hong Kong public are sincerely pissed off at the protestors. At the same time, many share the students’ anger at the cronyism and bad governance and are supportive. (A pure guess: maybe 30-40% of the population would clearly declare themselves pro-Occupy versus 20-30% who are anti.)

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Some people’s opinion of the movement might not simply reflect their views of the political and socio-economic factors, but of the methods and style of the protest. A stroll around the Admiralty encampment yesterday underlined how a genuine community with its own quirky culture has evolved in the last few weeks. Today’s South China Morning Post examines the tent management, carpentry, supplies, first-aid and other facilities that keep the settlement going and forge a sense of neighbourliness among recent strangers that is all but unknown in Hong Kong.

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No residential or other urban area of the city is like this. It is extremely low-rise, with most dwellings being no more than 4ft tall. It is traffic-free, so you can walk and sit where you want. Most bizarrely: there is space to do things, and you don’t have to pay any rent. It is this latter unique feature that largely enables the villagers young and old to express their feelings and hopes through various educational, artistic and other cultural activities. It’s a fascinating experiment: what happens to a bit of Hong Kong when you take the bureaucrats and landlords (and cars) away? Answer: the flowering of a happy, creative and relaxed ambience, without a Burberry or Louis Vuitton outlet in sight, and locals and tourists love it.

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Well, some locals and tourists. Not everyone gets it. To some, the fun and the novelty are an affront because of the underlying political aims, which oppose the national authorities and smack of foreign ways. Some middle-class types whose self-identity as establishment material feel a need to parrot official disapproval. Many others, I suspect, view the gentle anarchy and youthfulness of the tent village with distaste and loathing simply for what it is. They are miserable (probably old, probably little-educated) wretches who ate bitterness without complaint their whole lives and resent the idea that the next generation is able and willing to demand better. And this rather pitiful demographic could be the government’s prime source of support as it tries to increase public contempt for the protesters. Sad or what?

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27 Responses to Another stroll around Admiralty

  1. gumshoe says:

    Looks like the government finally got that arts hub they always wanted, and they didn’t have to spend a dime! I have to say, I am truly impressed with the creativity and political humor displayed at all the protest sites. The sardonic nature of the projects really grounds what some may view as a “celebratory” setting the gravity it deserves belying what people see at a glance.

  2. Maugrim says:

    HK was already divided in the lead up to occupy, Kaifong Assoc’ types, local ‘businessmen’ , HKJC members, etc and youth. Part of this division is really about the ‘haves’ i.e., those who have property and the ‘have nots’- those who know they will never have such assets. This isn’t a rancorous attitude, rather one more of resignation about the hopelessness of working in HK for little gain. The Government, with their usual stupidity, think that feeding the ‘wah’ of ‘we’ll all lose money’ will settle things down, having little idea of what its like for young people without pension schemes, 5 day working weeks, airconditioning allowances and so on.

  3. Dan the Man says:

    It would be interesting to see how many condoms are thrown away on pick-up-the-trash day at admiralty. Probably the teen and 20-something young-ins, who finally have some place to get away from their parents (and grandparents), are doing more than discussing politics (or ways to storm Mong Kok when the police come) late at night in those tents…

  4. Incredulous says:

    Please can you dig up something scurrilous to skewer this wretched Chow bloke and get rid of him for good. Every time I read something about him it pisses me off. We know he has a British passport. He might be a child-abuser as he encourages small children to sign things they don’t understand.

  5. Stephen says:

    How does this end as it’s clear the Hong Kong Government hasn’t a clue and are awaiting instructions?

    A. Buried on a big news day, sometime after the APAC gabfest, China instructs the HKP not to spare the rod?
    B. A give and take approach on the nominating committee allowing a Pro-Dem to run ?
    C. The Emperor pays the Triads and the Heung Yee Crook to restore discipline ?
    D. A winter cold snap?
    E. Summer Rains?
    F. A Pro-Government worthy (cock) spouts the usual crap and the students realize they haven’t been listening and it all makes perfect sense ?
    G. It doesn’t end – its festered for 30 years and by god it can fester for another 33 years ?

    Answers in the comments.

  6. anon says:

    And now, Protesters are living in the Streets of HK… Neat idea, for the thousands (or millions?) who also cannot afford the blood-thirsty prices of HK real-estate cartel. Why protest, when you can live for free in city streets…

  7. Ivor Towers says:

    Sorry to blow the gaff on this little love-in, but I suspect that the figure published by the anti- crew for their petition is probably not far wide of the mark, paid hands not withstanding. More like the reverse of Hemmers’ guess. And on the subject of paid hands, why assume it is only the antis who pay? I hear the going rate in MK is a $1000 per day in the camp, 3000 if you sit in the front ranks (near the cops). And then there is all that electricity that’s being stolen.

    I couldn’t agree more about the cronyism and lack of prospects. Alas that is not why the students have opted for village life. They have no strategy (other than embarrass CY & Co.) no end game, no exit strategy and nothing to bargain with. But as long as they are having a good time, that’s fine.

  8. Gooddog says:

    Ivor Towers – booooo you old party pooper.

  9. Tom says:

    Well, we know that thing Ivor Towers just made up can’t be true.
    $1000 a day would put the protestors above median wage, and if that were the case, CYL would listen to them.

  10. PD says:

    Ivor, If you’re worried about stolen electricity, that proves you are ignorant of 90% of HK (non-urban NT), where crocodile clips are almost the norm.

    Perhaps you’re upset, like one poor fellow in the PCMP letters column, about the amount of free sex going on?

    Stephen, A, B and C are not incompatible, might indeed form part of the govt’s much-vaunted “multipronged” (sharpened and red-hot) approach?

  11. PHT says:

    Stephen – I guess the government will let the occupation go on with minimal fuss and hope that someday the occupiers will be largely ignored just like the Falun Gong people are.

  12. Cassowary says:

    Who’s supposed to be paying them then? Fat Man Lai? The CIA? No, wait, it must be Osama bin Laden. He’s still alive and he’s plotting with Xinjiang terrorists to destabilize China with umbrellas. No? How about reptile aliens from the Andromeda Galaxy? Or maybe Kim Jong Un’s Admiralty body double has access to a counterfeit money press.

  13. nulle says:

    IvorTower, please give whatever you are smoking, snorking, or shooting up to CY Leung.

    anti-occupy activities have been proven to be paid directly or indirectly by the CCP.

    let’s hypothetically order a contract each on Robert Chow and CY Leung’s daughter and offer their heads on a stick in MK.

    Speaking of Xinjiang Muslims, surprising that IS (or ISIL) didn’t realized the number of Muslims slaugthered daily in Xinjiang makes Iraq/Syria looks like a joke and the PRC gov’t the ultimate infidel.

  14. Joe Blow says:

    …I hear the going rate in MK is a $1000 per day in the camp, 3000 if you sit in the front ranks (near the cops). …

    Ivor, where did you “hear” this ?
    I am going over right now to sign up.
    I assume the moolah is cash and up front. (where does it come from btw ?)

  15. Chinese Netizen says:

    IRT gumshoe @ 12:18 – YESSSSSS!!! SO bloody true!!

  16. Hills says:

    Passing the Love Hong Kong-Hate Occupy booth Saturday on Queens Road Central and had a look at the men, yes all men, women are not that stupid, manning the booth.
    Very scary middle aged men with urgent need of dental work, a dentist can make a fortune there. No one signed anything, I guess there is no actual need for that anyhow. The man in the middle looked a bit like CY Leung, maybe a poor relative.

  17. Cassowary says:

    One of my coworkers gloated today about how she put dozens of fake signatures on the anti-occupy-support-the-police petition. She used a bunch of footballers’ names.

    (For those who don’t get the joke – netizens have started calling the Police Dark Corner at Tamar a commemorative miniature football pitch that memorializes the victory of the Hong Kong Police Volunteer Football Team against a single goalie.)

  18. Ivor Towers says:

    PD – Lived and worked in NT for donkeys years, and yes I know about the nicking of electricity. My point here is that contributors here seem to feel that the demonstrators can do know wrong, and indeed are now busily burnishing their halo. I do not personally have anything against their …ahem…vision, other than it is a pipe dream. Bonking, I am good for. On the cash front, where do you suppose the free meals, tents, water, desks, lamps, emergency instant noodles come from? I don’t know myself, but simple empirical observation suggests somebody is paying for it.

  19. Cassowary says:

    I paid for water. I bought an armful of bottles from a street vendor and carried them 1 block to the nearest supply station.

  20. Kilgore Trout says:

    “free meals, tents, water, desks, lamps, emergency instant noodles”

    You mean water that costs $1 a bottle in bulk? And $5 packs of instant noodles? And the desks that are being handmade on site by a half-dozen carpenters? That must costs thousands of HKD! Clear evidence of CIA blood money!

  21. Tom says:

    Well, where do you suppose middle-class students normally get the money from for food, accommodation, water and furniture?

  22. Tom says:

    To follow up on my flip answer – what the others said.
    They get their stuff from people with jobs: either their parents or other people, e.g. me.

  23. Adam says:

    Electricity – if you go to the sites, you will see it comes from their own generators. Not stolen.

    Condoms – one would think so, but actually camping on concrete, and being woken up in the middle of the night by false alarm of police crackdown, is pretty uncomfortable. The tents very close together. Kissing maybe and budding romances, but I doubt there is much real action.

    Ivor – you may be right that a large number of the anti signatures are genuine. I do expect only a few have actually been inconvenienced by the occupation and most are for reasons Hemmers points out.
    To answer your other question, the reason why people don’t think the OC protesters are paid is that there is no evidence. Having many young friends and been to the sites many times, I could not find any way to get paid. Nor were any of many friends who were on the frontline paid.

    On the otherhand, there is video evidence, and many independent sources, showing anti-occupy people have on at least some occasions been paid. The fact that many people at anti rallies refuse to talk to journalists, only speak Mandarin, or seem not to know why they are there, re-inforces this impression.

    Tom is on the mark with where the resources come from. 100s of private individuals bring supplies every day. Many small companies donate supplies too. Surprisingly, someone even parked an expensive sportscar in admiralty for people to graffiti on.

  24. Cassowary says:

    Let’s do a thought experiment. Imagine that donations of snacks, water and scrap wood dried up. What do you think the protesters would do?

    A. Starve to death on the streets.
    B. Give up and go home due to lack of biscuits.
    C. Eat at McDonalds more and find their own scrap wood.

    Protests don’t run on supplies, they run on angry, dissatisfied people. It isn’t like we have a shortage of those in Hong Kong.

  25. Ivor Towers says:

    Chaps you really have not been paying attention. Go take a look at the cables coming out of the traffic bollard outside BoA tower, or if you can’t bring yourselves (still) to go and take a good look around then I refer you to Oriental Daily, which has photos.

    It does seem curious to me that you are willing to believe anything negative about the blues (“they are all paid hirelings!”) while turning a blind eye to any suggestion that some in the yellow camp may not be what they seem (“They are all selfless heroes!”). I am not saying that the blues are squeaky clean or that all the yellows are perfidious in their motives – heaven forbid – but I see no reason to suspend critical judgment and give greater weight to YouTube clips of blues taking money than to yellows taking it (oh yes, they are there. Go and look). And the cash paid out at MK (and I was being specific about MK, you will notice) comes on good authority. I think it will become common knowledge that money is changing hands on all sides.

    Oh, and I wonder if you gentlemen are of the view that the Kwan Tai set up in MK is there because the students regard him as the new god of democracy? I would be interested to know your opinions, because clearly none of you feel it necessary to address the real issue in my post, that of the complete lack of a strategy or even convincing objective in the umbrella movement. But let’s not get bogged down in reality shall we? Warm and cuddly is the order of the day…

  26. Ben says:

    ‘I am not saying the blues are squeaky clean.’ Ha ha! Ok then. No. They are definitely not squeaky clean. Some of them are filthy dirty, and the rest are merely depressing, disturbing and disgusting.

    HK$1,000 a day for camping at Admiralty? HK$3,000 for ‘being near the front lines’. And you ‘heard’ this?

    I’m sure you’ll come up with a source soon. Tick tock.

  27. Ivor Towers says:

    Actually I was, as I made clear (twice), talking about Mong Kok. I have to admit, though, I was slightly inaccurate in the amount – it was $2,000 for getting your mug photoed if you had a bit of a ‘da gaau’ with the fuzz. Not bad for being bussed in from Aberdeen for the night.

    Anyway, no takers for explaining the Kwan Tai shrine in (I emphasise once again) MONG KOK? Well, chaps, carry on with your halo building. But when the laundry gets done remember where you heard it first…

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