A thorough disinfecting…

The South China Morning Post gives the street-sleeper found dead in a McDonalds the nearest she will probably get to an obituary…


It could almost be a metaphor for China’s Hong Kong policy here – to leave the city ‘thoroughly disinfected and operating as usual’.

The thorough disinfecting is underway with the Communist Party’s United Front-ordered blackballing of Johannes Chan. Here is Hong Kong U Faculty of Law’s statement, and some other commentary hot off the presses here, here and here.

The effort involved in barring one low-profile figure from one obscure job looks like overkill. Beijing’s Liaison Office and/or agents and proxies had to work overtime and inflict damage to others’ integrity. They illegally hacked into HKU’s emails in search of dirt, leaving the Hong Kong Police publicly complicit as selective non-enforcers of the law. They arranged for Beijing-owned propaganda organs to publish literally hundreds of stories in an over-the-top smear campaign against Chan. They somehow or other pressured pliable members of the HKU Council into voting against Chan for embarrassingly pitiful reasons, leaving them exposed to public ridicule. And HKU is still in the lurch, as it has to find a willing, Beijing-acceptable candidate who can match the rejected Chan in terms of reputation.

United Front tactics rely on intimidation and fear to isolate enemies and leave them friendless. Obviously, overt pro-Communists back the anti-Chan campaign. And the broader establishment has to feign nonchalance or some sort of even-handedness. (SCMP columnists today claim to have ‘no idea if Chan is mediocre or distinguished’ and insist, in effect, that Communist agents hacking emails cannot justify a student whistleblower infringing the corrupted HKU Council’s ‘deliberative privilege’.) And various academics may well be cowed into silence. But the episode has otherwise only highlighted the Liaison Office’s true nature and alerted Hong Kong and the world to what is happening.

The brutishness of Communist officials engaged in a life-or-death struggle for control in a pluralistic society could almost be comical. In the latest attempts to win friends and influence people, the forces of darkness are at this time mounting a propaganda campaign against Li Ka-shing, the God of Hong Kong’s tycoon caste, and (reportedly) planning to erase colonial symbolism from the city’s mailboxes.

So – are China’s officials going to go through all of this to eliminate every real or imagined Johannes Chan out there?

To the extent that the ‘thorough disinfecting’ is successful, the ‘operating as usual’ part is of course finished. Hong Kong’s own officials and shoe-shining elite are waking up to this themselves. SCMP columnist Peter Guy goes back to the fundamental contradictions in the Basic Law


This is perhaps an insult to clerisies – ruling elites with some (originally priestly) sort of literary leanings. But of all the ‘various sectors’ in Hong Kong, the officials and government hangers-on look perhaps the least prepared. Long comfortable, smug and arrogant insiders, they are now faced with the reality that Beijing will see them as just as expendable as a law professor, or a tycoon, or a colonial symbol on a mailbox. To the Chinese Communist Party, everyone is ultimately just a street-sleeper in McDonalds.

On a brighter note – I will be visiting more-resolutely anti-Communist territory for the rest of the week, no doubt conveying much excitement on the Twitter-thing to the right…

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20 Responses to A thorough disinfecting…

  1. Joe Blow says:

    So we finally reached the point where every candidate for a (semi-)public or official position has to be ‘Beijing-acceptable’. What’s next ? a compulsory ‘ethnic purity’ check ?

  2. PCC says:

    “If the only tool you have is a hammer, it is tempting to treat everything as if it were a nail.” – Abraham H. Maslow

  3. AHW says:

    So Alex Lo has “no idea if Professor Johannes Chan Man-mun is a distinguished or mediocre legal scholar and administrator” (he obviously doesn’t read his own publication), yet he is certain that Prof Yuen Kwok-yung is “one of the world’s great virus hunters” and Prof Lo Chung-mau is “a world-renowned liver transplant specialist whose team has made many advances and saved countless lives”.

    That can only mean Alex Lo knows this because Prof Yuen has identified a virus that only Lo has ever suffered from, and he’s had a liver transplant carried out by Prof Lo.

  4. reductio says:

    The green light has clearly been given by the Liaison Office: The Don is good to go! Even CEs are expendable.

  5. Nimby says:

    Facts? Who needs facts to run a mass transit rail?

    “MTR corporate affairs director Linda So Ka-pik said at a news conference at Tai Wai Station on Saturday night that the company was sorry to see some musicians cause trouble to passengers** and make groundless accusations against MTR staff, who she said did not enforce rules selectively.”#

    ** who these passengers were she could not point out
    # despite video evidence on several Chinese media sites showing the MTR staff helping mainlanders with oversize luggage through the gates

  6. Cassowary says:

    Obviously, the damage to HKU’s reputation is all the fault of the pan-democrats, for blowing the whole Johannes Chan thing up into big honking political controversy. If he’d just gone away quietly, HKU would have been able to save face, Beijing would have been able to maintain plausible deniability, Hong Kong would be peaceful and civilized, and we could all go on pretending that we all have rights so long as we don’t try to exercise them or anything. That’s how One Country Two Systems works, doncherknow?

  7. LRE says:

    I did enjoy KY Leung’s bleat on Shoe-shining Day urging all those unhappy with the CCP control freaks riding roughshod over Hong Kong to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the mainland:

    “In view of the rapid developments of our country, all people in Hong Kong, especially politicians and young people, need to gain a comprehensive understanding of the country’s development from different perspectives, both for the good of the country and for their own careers.”

    Ah such wonderful irony, and with a great veiled threat at the end! Sadly, of course, what’s required for a peaceful, unopposed trouble-free transition into becoming just another mainland city is precisely the opposite: a comprehensive lack of understanding of the mainland.

    Indeed I suspect a comprehensive understanding of the mainland is precisely the thing making politicians and young people rebel against the mainland.

    “At different stages of national development, Hong Kong has always been able to play its part, making contributions to the country while improving the lives of local people. We should not underestimate ourselves.”

    Is it just me, or did the previous sentence just wildly underestimate Hong Kong? Better luck with the next sentence, KY:

    “We have the conditions and capability to continue to leverage our strengths in the new situation and work together with all the people of China for the progress of the country and of Hong Kong.”

    Oh dear. Still sounds like the KY underestimates Hong Kong. Here’s the rest of it:

    “Hey, man, you don’t talk to Xi Jinping. You listen to him. The man’s enlarged my mind. He’s a poet warrior in the classic sense. I mean sometimes he’ll… uh… well, you’ll say “hello” to him, right? And he’ll just walk right by you. He won’t even notice you. And suddenly he’ll grab you, and he’ll throw you in a corner, and he’ll say, “Do you know that ‘if’ is the middle word in life? If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you, if you can trust yourself when all men doubt you”… I mean I’m… no, I can’t… I’m a little man, I’m a little man, he’s… he’s a great man! I should have been a pair of ragged claws scuttling across floors of silent seas… “

  8. Scotty Dotty says:

    @ LRE

    Cool Apocalypse Now nod

  9. Knownot says:

    A McDeath, please

    I would not like to sift through litter
    To make ends meet
    Or live on hand-outs, or sleep
    In the street.
    But I wouldn’t mind sitting with a paper cup
    Of sweet tea
    With ordinary people busy living
    Around me.
    Schoolkids texting with nimble fingers
    And quick eyes,
    Little ones messing about with ketchup
    And French fries.
    Old codgers, comfortable with their wives,
    Resting there,
    Grateful for the space
    And the cool air.
    And I would willingly end as she did,
    If I could.
    To die so easily and quietly
    Would be good.

  10. anon says:

    Thank you Knownot, for your beautiful poetry. Where can we find more?

  11. The latest absurd twist in the HKU saga is Tsang Yok-sing accusing the University Council of politicising the Johannes Chan case. The reality is that it became political as soon as Tsang’s comrades in the pro-Beijing media kicked off their smear campaign designed to derail Chan’s appointment – long before the Council ever got to discuss it. Disingenuous or what?

    Now some academic at another university suggests that the pro-Vice Chancellor should be “politically neutral”. This pretty much rules out any local candidate, since anyone in Hong Kong intelligent enough to hold the job must have political opinions one way or the other. On the other hand, it would also rule out anyone Beijing wanted. Of course in a free society, a person’s political opinions are only of interest to a potential employer if they are likely to prevent him performing his job impartially.

  12. stinky foot says:

    Thank you for that verse @knownot. I wish that you would publish that in a letter to the SCMP as well as the Chinese press.

  13. Concerned Faculty Member says:

    Outside Influence: Yes, it seems now the name of the game is blame the victim.

    Interesting to see that sympathy seeking Dr. Lo doesn’t have a PhD degree himself.

  14. Xiaoyao says:

    @Knownot, @anon: That is a fine poem indeed. So much of HK life in that bit of simple but profound verse.

  15. Knownot says:

    anon, stinky foot, Xiaoyao: Thank you very much for your comments. My verse is only here. The Internet perks me up and makes me write quickly, and if what I post is no good it quickly goes into oblivion.

    The website has been fallow for a few days so, as our blogger would say if he were here, “I declare the weekend open” by offering another poem. I wrote it for a competition in a British magazine, but it wasn’t chosen for a prize.

    If you approached the old airport at night,
    As the plane skirted the hills
    You would see Kowloon’s main road,
    Blazing, a string of light.

    Fresh air would be supplied
    When the plane had landed,
    A switch from preserved air
    To air from outside.

    I could be fanciful and say
    I smelt hawkers’ fried bean-curd,
    Or White Flower Embrocation,
    Or joss-sticks on a festive day.

    But as the plane rolled along,
    I felt a puff of air, warm and damp,
    And whiffed the Fragrant Harbour,
    And thought, “Good. I’m in Hong Kong.”

  16. anon says:

    Thank you Knownot for your fine new poem. IMHO your “McDeath” poem would win HANDS DOWN in any competition anywhere, any time, for it’s vividness & universal topics & compassion. Do please tell us where we can follow your poetry.

    HK as a topic, probably elicited less interest.

  17. pensadora says:

    knownot, the poet laureate of hongkong! i still cherish your classic “the charge of the hong kong army cadets” that ends ” . . what if the people stare?/they do not know or care/into bauhinia square/ride the three hundred.” it’s taped on my frige door. your “a mcdeath, please” should be framed & put on all mcdonald’s shops.

  18. hawker says:

    I think McDeath would be selected though. Just the title is a little harsh compared to the content. A McRest maybe?

  19. Sojourner says:

    A very touching and insightful poem, knownot.

  20. LRE says:

    @hawker how about:
    She sleeps with the Filet-o-Fishes™

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