The London Times names the boy Joshua as its Young Person of the Year. The paper is owned by Rupert Murdoch, along with Fox TV, the Wall Street Journal and the UK’s Sun. This might seem an odd bunch of media outlets, ranging from the serious to the plain cretinous, until you realize they are all, in their own ways, solidly conservative and naturally anti-communist. At one stage, of course, Murdoch owned the South China Morning Post, which he hoped would help him shoe-shine his way into the hearts of the then-Beijing leadership, who would let him broadcast satellite TV to 800 million Mainland subscribers. The idea that evil foreigners would be allowed into China’s media business seems naïve in an age when the paranoid regime is snuffing out Gmail and The Big Bang Theory, but they were heady days.
Poking the Chinese government in the eye is now a pleasure. As a believer that high-quality journalism must be paid for, Murdoch protects most of his publications with no-nonsense pay-walls, so we do not have the full citation. But we can see that the Times says Joshua Wong is a man (sounds strange, but just turned 18, so strictly speaking correct) ‘whose courage in insisting that knowledge is an inalienable right and liberty is indivisible’ wins him the title. I am not sure whether he has actually uttered such Jeffersonian words about knowledge and liberty – though he probably could have. The point is that this will irritate all the right people in the Hong Kong and Chinese leaderships, who obviously have no clue that being in Rolling Stone is far cooler.
If you like the Thing of the Year thing, there’s a RTHK3 poll you can vote in here. The last time I voted checked, the results were…
If the Hong Kong Police lag behind the dashing Joshua and the other pro-democracy students, it’s partly because – under duress, no doubt – they are transforming into a crotchety and fidgety thought-control enforcement brigade. Their big nightmare for tomorrow’s New Year’s Eve festivity tedium is not that a pleasure boat will sink in the harbour or that drunks will be crushed in a stampede in Lan Kwai Fong – but that someone, somewhere, will want universal suffrage.
The message is: walk on the sidewalk to go shopping, and that’s fine; walk on the sidewalk to pretend to go shopping, and you could be arrested. Join the estimated 370,000 people who want to see in 2015, and that’s fine; join (or worse, plot) an ‘unauthorized assembly’ of people who want to see free elections, and you could be arrested. It will be interesting to see what the courts would make of this, should the public prosecutors be demented enough to send anyone for trial on ‘willful exercise of basic freedoms’ charges. Meanwhile, a New Year’s wish might be to go back to having a police service that enforces laws rather than opinions.
On a brighter note, at least this isn’t Papua New Guinea. Australian Broadcasting Corp reports the latest…
Bougainville disaster co-ordinator Frank Lacey, who is heading the investigation team, said…
“Local reports coming from the area are that there are three dead bodies in the ship’s fridge with some fish they have caught.
“The occupants of the boat, when it ran aground, they tried to burn it.
“They tried to burn the ship. They do this all the time.”
All the time… Yes, these darned corpses-in-freezer-on-illegal-unsuccessfully-set-on-fire-fishing-boat cases just get so tiresome after a while.