What have they done to our Bunny?! Beijing’s attempts to tighten control over Hong Kong take a disturbing and cruel turn, as the city’s most beloved and ubiquitous all-purpose pro-establishment shoe-shiner is put in uniform. The sitter on a thousand stooge-packed government advisory boards is not alone in this humiliation. Education Secretary Eddie Ng is similarly pressed into service with the newly formed Hong Kong Army Cadets Association, looking even more hapless and embarrassed.
But first, since people are banding about phrases like ‘Hitler Youth’, a bit of context. It is surprising a ‘patriotic’ formal liveried youth organization has not been formed sooner in Hong Kong. The British-style Boy Scouts and Girl Guides still thrive, and many schools have uniformed road-safety and first-aid groups training and drilling. There are also three youth organizations originally linked to the British military and still publicly subsidized (the Air Cadet, Sea Cadet and Adventure Corps). A more China-oriented youth group is no more abnormal or sinister than, say, the national flag on public buildings – however much old-time empire loyalists and Kuomintang veterans might find it distasteful.
(An aside: is it just me, or have fire stations only just recently started flying the national flag – suitably elevated – alongside the Hong Kong one? Maybe I’d just never noticed it until now.)
So in principle, the Hong Kong Army Cadets Association is not weird. But, of course, it is. It’s freaky.
Essentially: it’s not real. The South China Morning Post reports that the non-profit company was incorporated just last Thursday, and no-one seems to have noticed earlier signs of preliminary discussion, planning or preparation. We just woke up and there it was. Most of the press were barred from the inauguration ceremony at a PLA facility (though someone had the wit to invite other youth groups to add a dash of normality to the contrived, verging on surreal, proceedings).
Obviously, it didn’t appear totally spontaneously. Flunkies had to sign up Tung Chee-hwa, the ex-police chiefs and other ‘honorary’ office-holders; some, like poor Eddie Ng, probably had to be slapped about a bit. Expert tailors had to measure Bunny and the others for their immaculate quasi-military costumes (fitting the oddly-shaped Eddie must have taken a while). But as these things go, it was done in a hurry.
The badge/logo looks like a last-minute get-the-secretary-to-do-it thing. There is as yet no website. (Although dozens of young eager members seem to have materialized out of nowhere. How could they have joined an organization before it came into being? The intuitive answer is that we must be imagining the kids in their fatigues. Think laterally, and the puzzle is solved: the kids exist, it’s the organization that’s fake.)
So what is this Hong Kong Army Cadets Association? The ‘honorary’ roles of the local PLA commander and the boss of Beijing’s Liaison Office obviously confirm central government endorsement. But it is designed to look independent: Sino Land is contributing premises, and the group’s rules say ‘no political affiliation’…
The choice of the Chief Executive’s wife Regina Tong as ceremonial head, like the inclusion of Bunny, suggests ‘child welfare NGO’ rather than jack-booted thugs (though her title of ‘Commander in Chief’ is questionable – you can’t rule out hallucinogenic drugs as an explanation for some aspects of all this). Although aesthetically dismal, the badge is interesting in that it is devoid of national symbolism; no red flag, no map of motherland, no PLA ‘八一’. Even the name of the organization is odd, implying that there is such a thing as a ‘Hong Kong Army’, which sounds like a pro-independence fantasy.
Along with Bunny, who has a long record of do-goodery in keeping young folk clean and wholesome, another relatively minor figure sticks out here: pro-Beijing businessman Stephen Tai Tak-fung GBS, JP (and PhD, courtesy of Southern California University For Professional Studies), a Chiuchou, member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, funder of Hong Kong’s annual reunion-day celebrations – and, the Standard tells us, organizer of ‘military camps for Mainland youth’.
Reading between all these lines, the impression is that someone very senior in Beijing has just blasted Hong Kong’s leaders for their near-treacherous disregard for brainwashing kids properly, or at all (as Chen Zuo-er publicly and politely did just 11 days ago). By ‘leaders’ we mean not only CY and colleagues but the Liaison Office and quite possibly, by cc, the PLA. Panic broke out; ‘We must do something’; there’s no way to change school curricula or anything serious; someone suggests a quasi-private nationalistic youth league; someone else remembers Stephen Tai’s odd taste for kids’ boot camps; hasty phone calls, and behold – Instant Patriotic Hong Kong Army Cadets Association! Hopefully, Beijing will be happy. (How can they not be? Six-year-old are accepted!) What the rest of us think is irrelevant; it’s not aimed at us. (The Hong Kong media had to interview a Wen Wei Po reporter at the gates.)
Maybe it worked, and Xi Jinping’s advisors are satisfied. The founders of the group will now be stuck with this white-elephant youth organization. Presumably, they will attract or press-gang members, if only from other United Front affiliates and traditionally patriotic schools. And as another wedge is driven into the increasingly divided community, the rest of Hong Kong can just roll its eyes in disbelief at the grotesque symbolism, and spare some pity for poor Eddie and Bunny.
Not everyone looks silly in that get-up. I don’t have a women-in-uniform thing, but it has to be said: doesn’t erstwhile dowdy lobster-mom Mrs CY suddenly look hot rather fetching, with mane flowing and nostrils glaring, in that military outfit?
Looks like a bunch of creepy pedos.
Eddie has medals! Greased paw first class, battle of National Curriculum, HK property developers order of the red panda?
Great to see Bunny again, and in good health. I thought he had died. This time Bunny got more than he bargained for. Poetic justice.
….with mane flowing and nostrils glaring….: are you suggesting that Regina resembles a horse ?
And spot the odd one, missing: where’s Vagina ?
Someone needs to send the HK kids to a camp to…concentrate on…things like national education. Maybe they could call it….a….concentration camp?
Pathetic… I’d send the parents of the pressgang kids up on charges of child neglect and abuse…except the parents are probably sycophantic slobs trying get in good with the HKSAR gov for future business and guanxi.
Lovely gold braid.
I wonder if they are required to register under the Societies’ Ordinance…?
Nicely struck though the word ‘hot’. ‘Fetching’ in the sense of nausea inducement is bang on.
Joe, see above, you can’t be allied to a political party. CN, such parents are likely to be poor. It’s disgusting that those lining up to promote it will never have to face their own children joining such a group as they are either abroad or in an International school
Eddie won his medals at Credibility Gap
Do I see the ghost of Jiang Qing there?
Laugh of the day!
Hong Kong’s Master Race rips off the CCF (Combined Cadet Force) fifty years behind the proper British one (is there ANYTHING they don’t copy?) and straight away it’s a fail.
We all know this is about racial purity (Indian or gweilo membership? um, that’ll be a zero) and political brainwashing (Communism and anti-foreign devils and rewriting history). Hemlock summarises it perfectly: “The founders of the group will now be stuck with this white-elephant youth organization.”
Commiserations to the unfortunate kids drafted in by patriotic comrades who will be stuck with putting it on their CV when, at eighteen, they apply for university. Waiting list…
So basically, another entry for the Spreadsheet of Loyalty.
Now of course, I can just imagine these kiddies being roused out of bed at 5:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning for the national anthem, followed by exercises in synchronized clapping, batonning stuffed animals over the head, and 7-on-1 dark corner mini football. Then, for an extra dose of PLA authenticity, they will get to play SimWhorehouse and Sink the Filipino Fishing Boat on the computer before breaking for lunch.
Looks like the NSDAP, but without any of the talent for architecture, propaganda, finance, so let us hope they are equally talentless when it comes to rounding up the Gweilo, Ah-Cha and other risks to the gene pool of the Han master race.
Any idea where one might download SimWhoreHouse?
I’m sure BGI can’t wait to sample the fine specimens of leadership.
(BGI’s Chinese name is a bit more in the face about their Raison d’être / Entschlossenheitb: 華大基因 .
Children of mainland immigrants, unite! Forward march!
Motto: So bad we couldn’t get Alan Zeeman.
Motto: So bad we could only get Bunny.
@Scotty Dotty & @NIMBY
I would love to see gwaijai/gwaimuis & brown kids in there too to show a representative sample of HK’s population, given that they can speak Chinese (either Canto or Mando) given that is indeed the language of the majority by far.
Actually, the brown kids seems to be doing ok with respect to speaking Chinese. Why not the white kids? If you wanna think that you’re part of HK, start with putting more than a half-assed effort in learning the local language beyond knowing how to say “taxi back to wanchai” or “i want another beer”
These cartoons in uniform make Salvation Army members look like special forces
They had to trick the kids to come. These guys are idiots. http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/1682701/hong-kong-army-cadets-recruit-denies-joining-controversial-youth-body
Anyone with any dignity or sense would have nothing to do with this administration. Do you hear me Carrie and Christine Loh? You will be remembered like the French remember ministers in the Vichy government….
My written Chinese is better than Michael Suen’s, I’ve not had the pleasure to put Eddy to the test, but from just hearing him speak, I’m sure I’d clean his deck. I’m afraid you must be living in one of the gettos of Lantao if you have not met many expats children who speak and write Chinese better than many locals. Considering the resources imbalance favoring expatriates that Suen and Ng have turned into a full avalanche, it’s hardly any surprise at all.