Pro-dems starving themselves of ideas

Ever since the days of Martin Lee and Szeto Wah, Hong Kong’s pro-democracy leaders have been unable to resist retreating into the comfort zone of self-pity, martyrdom and misery. The student-led Umbrella movement has been a breath of fresh air precisely because it has been joyous, irreverent, hilarious, creative, spontaneous and unpredictable. Now clashes with the police are becoming ritualized, like South Korean campus protests from years ago, and pointless and counterproductive. And the young pin-up kids of this extraordinary uprising, Joshua Wong and buddies, confess that they have run out of original ideas by announcing that they will go on hunger strike.

This is as much a part of the pro-dem tradition as the overly-frequent march and threatens to be just as futile and embarrassing. Like self-immolation, it is about making the ultimate sacrifice – except you’re still alive afterwards and the press coverage can go on far longer. And like the methods adopted by the movement’s founders three decades ago, it will mainly impress the overseas media. The Hong Kong public who should form the target audience are unlikely to be inspired and awed by this tired old publicity stunt, and the pro-Beijing mobs will lap up the chance to mock and jeer.

What the students could have done (and still could/might do) is move on from getting clubbed by cops to the next unexpected, fun thing. Guerilla street theatre: how many ways can yellow umbrellas turn up and ruin an official event or patriotic scene? Flash mobs. My favourite: well-aimed boycotts of certain tycoons’ businesses. And, you know – verve. Don’t do depressing.


SCMP-ContinuingStrifeIt’s not only the pro-dem people who are getting stale. Financial Secretary John Tsang robotically blames the Occupy protests for a slowdown in the growth rate of retail sales. Shops didn’t sell less: they sold ‘only’ 1.4% more year-on-year in October. In fact stores sold more in October, when the protests were in full swing, than in September, before the sit-ins started. Various other data, including visitor arrivals, suggest that the Umbrella events had no real impact on the economy. Falls in sales of trashy watches, like the ongoing decline in Macau casino revenues, are obviously the result of China’s anti-corruption drive.

For right-thinking people who would be delighted to think that the demonstrations are damaging the tourist-retail parasite monster consuming our neighbourhoods, it all sounds a bit gloomy.

But wait! Good news! A vendor of tacky-sounding Italian underwear reports a 46% fall in the high-end blah-blah luxury crap sold in Pacific Place. Even before the Mainland shopper invasion began, the Swire flagship mall in Admiralty was full of stores selling stuff only an idiot would buy. There was once a Swindon’s bookshop, I seem to recall. And of course CD place Hong Kong Records – though I doubt that will survive the downfall of ex-Chief Secretary and mega-customer Rafael Hui. Even the supermarket in the basement is working overtime finding products no-one could possibly want – like the nasty Marie Antoinette-style cakes and more tacky Italian grotesquerie in the form of candy-striped pasta. Another 46% fall, please…


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20 Responses to Pro-dems starving themselves of ideas

  1. PD says:

    Maybe as distractions we can expect a ban on the sale of yellow umbrellas, baiting of the foreign tiger at loose on the sacred soil, or a Chinese colonising mission to the South Pole?

  2. mjrelje says:

    There is a ban on the sale of yellow umbrellas PD — havent seen one in weeks at the Wanchai markets. I had to ask my mother to bring one over from UK on her visit last week.

  3. Cassowary says:

    Pay your taxes in $689 increments. Mail in a pile of cheques each worth $689 up to slightly under/over the amount you owe, so that they will have to calculate how much you underpaid/overpaid, and chase you for the remainder/mail a cheque back to you. If thousands of people did this a week before the tax deadline, it would bury them in paperwork and postage fees.

    If you’re feeling especially ornery, you could mail each of your cheques in a separate envelope, on different days, with a photocopy of your tax stub enclosed. Then they’d have to go the extra step of matching your cheque to your account every time another one came in.

  4. Joe Blow says:

    Major Shopping Expeditions, that’s what the economy needs: imagine Saturday evening in Central: 500 enthusiastic shoppers in front of the Landmark, 500 at the corner of Wyndham and QRC and 500 in front of Hang Seng on Des Voeux, under the walkway. That’s where all the good shops are.

    Or 500 at the corner of Nathan and Jordan Road, 500 in front of Chungking Mansion or other dense shopping areas, all at the same time.

    500 can of course be 1000, or 5000, depending on the weather and Sales Promotions at Wing On.

  5. Stephen says:

    As it looks like the physical occupying will soon be at end it is probably time to reset the sights. The CCP were never going to grant nor ever will grant “democracy” and as a card carrying member of the CCP, CY Leung was always on message. So sad about Carrie however, thoroughly enjoyed the great and good in this town made to look even more ridiculous. It should have confirmed to anyone, other than an infirm dementia ridden Octogenarian, not to vote for the DAB.

    So how about aiming for eradication of Government / Tycoon collusion. Every time one pops up, as they do with alarming frequency, yellow umbrellas, thousands demonstrating. I know it’s hard but try not to patronize their wares, there is some ‘low hanging fruit’ like – Semen’s properties, a sea of yellow umbrellas in CY Leung’s face on the Sunday afternoon of the Rugby Sevens. Perhaps, through social media, there could be a monthly boycott of the month.

    It’s probably time to reduce the temperature as the CCP are now in full siege mode – they even seem to have temporarily taken over Hong Kong’s borders – by telling a group of British MP’s we will not let you in. I’ll miss 2014.

  6. Scotty Dotty says:

    Agree with Hemmers. Joshua et al’s hunger strike is pretty lame and looks designed for western consumption and especially Time magazine. The lad’s got an ego

    I like Cassowary’s idea of paying tax in tedious amounts

    As I’ve mentioned before, another realistic protest, that might go in the “fun” bracket, is spoiling ballot papers en masse during the CE elections in 2017. That’s as good as saying “No confidence” in whoever gets “elected”. Taking yellow umbrellas to the polling station as well

  7. PD says:

    How about boycotting the big property developers and agents? Just an idea…

  8. Grumpy Old Sod says:

    Tomorrow, can we have Winky Ip’s take on the whole Umbrella thing? And what about that earthy Scottish cop friend of yours? Or has he retired to Tunbridge Wells/Ochtymochty/Pattaya by now?

  9. reductio says:

    The OC movement has missed a great opportunity to morph itself and go on the offensive over the tycoons. Example: Causeway Bay 10 years ago was a nice blend of upmarket, middle market, and downmarket. Now it exists purely for mainlanders. Stuff the locals, while the Kwoks, the Lees, et al do nothing but sit on their backsides and crank the rents up to insane levels. How many billions do they need? Greedy parasites stuffing more and more down their gullets. Oh, I’ll donate a few million to the Community Chest. That’s alright then. One country two systems? It’s already one country down here.

  10. Herr Torquewrench says:

    How about having a parallel CEO election – properly run it could do a nice job of shaming the real one.

  11. Maugrim says:

    Hunger strikes are the last resort of types such as Leticia Lee, thus Joshua and his mates have truly jumped the shark. Some of Hemmers’ ideas are much better.

  12. Cassowary says:

    How about absurd submissions to the “public consultation” on constitutional reform. Launch petitions demanding the creation of new functional constituencies for a great diversity of special interest groups including people wearing glasses, people not wearing glasses, one-legged beggars, housewives with bad teeth, the Carnivorous Plants Horticulturists’ Association, the All Christian Support Group For Hemorrhoids Sufferers, unicyclists with unibrows, jelly-based performance artists, and organic llama ranchers?

  13. reductio says:


    Brilliant! Made my day.

  14. Cassowary says:

    This guy’s figured out how to do a tax protest so that it doesn’t merely annoy IRD clerks, but deprives the government of money without breaking the law.

    If you don’t read Chinese: He says to use a credit card. Apparently for every credit card transaction, the bank takes a roughly 4% cut of the recipient’s sum. However, the lowest possible bank fee is around $4. You can take advantage of this by dividing your tax payment into tiny $68.9 chunks. 4% of $68.9 is $2.76, but the bank will take $4 regardless. If you had the patience to cut your tax payment into $6.89 chunks, they would lose $4 on each transaction.

    By spamming them with tiny payments, you can bleed them with bank fees.

  15. Shibori Blue says:

    Over in Golden Forum, it is speculated that Joshua used the hunger strike to tie the Student Union’s hands.

  16. Rueschl says:

    How can I register to follow your blogs? Thanks.

  17. gweiloeye says:


    “…housewives with bad teeth..”

    Sorry – too big of a majority!

  18. Joe Blow says:

    Something else:

    The Police Superintendent who bashed unarmed, innocent citizens with his baton in Mongkok last week (we all saw the video clip) is going to retire early. He gets a retirement payment of US$ 700,000- plus US$ 4,500- per month.

    To put this in perspective: In Europe eyebrows are raising because retiring President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy is receiving US$ 780,000.- as retirement send-off.

    Seems that HK civil servants /police pigs are extremely well rewarded. No wonder they are so loyal to The Liar. By the way, that’s your tax money.

  19. Marie Antoinette says:

    Let them eat shit !

  20. Cassowary says:

    All right gweiloeye, how about men with small penises instead?

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