Apres Fishball, la deluge


Following the Fishball Riot, Hong Kong suffers a predictable deluge of righteous outrage in the pro-government media. Young radicals are obviously evil – end of story. The police are heroes. (However, some police are blaming their higher-ups for inadequate support and resolve. The force is certainly being abused, but these disgruntled cops should aim higher; they are being thrust into impossible situations to satisfy Beijing’s officials that the Hong Kong authorities are resolutely crushing CIA-backed pro-independence splittists.) All this is tempered by columns of inconclusive hand-wringing stating the obvious about violence being bad and government policies having room for improvement.

We also have a high-profile, heavy-handed crackdown on alleged ringleaders and fiends. As with the exploitation of the once-impartial and respected police force as a political tool, this is to satisfy Beijing officials. It is Mainland-style ‘strike hard’, rule-by-fear stuff, with Hong Kong characteristics – thanks to which it looks contrived and clunky. The authorities may well nab some actual rock-throwers, but only after much embarrassing overkill, not to mention Orwell-does-Keystone Cops weirdness


As with the Occupy/Umbrella movement, decisions over prosecution may take ages or be mishandled, and then the courts will throw many cases out. But by that time, the Stan-ListSuspCommunist Party’s enforcers in the Liaison Office will not be paying attention, so it won’t matter – unless you care about things like integrity of the law enforcement system, or Hong Kong’s broader reputation.

No doubt Beijing would like Chief Executive CY Leung to seize the Fishball Riot as an opportunity to clamp down on Hong Kong’s civil liberties and degrade rule of law. If we want to clutch at straws/find cause for optimism, we can expect the Leninist system to find pluralistic Hong Kong harder (or even harder) to subjugate than Tibet or Xinjiang.

Intimidating or otherwise undermining the independent judiciary will have grave repercussions on the business and investment environment. Meaningful repression of communications and the media will have the same impact. Maybe Xi Jinping doesn’t care about all that, but there are a lot of people in the establishment and wider ‘moderate’ ‘silent majority’ with material wealth and personal ties at stake.

While it seems that Hong Kong is split along one-dimensional pro-Beijing/pro-democracy lines, the reality is more of a three-way struggle. There’s a big population among the business community, the bureaucracy, the middle class and others who benefit from Mainland-related economic opportunities and who are insulated from the harm resulting from local political inertia. But they are uneasy about all these ‘lines being crossed’ – whether it’s a panicky cop firing into the air in Mongkok or Chinese agents abducting people even on Hong Kong soil.

People talk about CY and Beijing dividing the community, but the Communist clampdown in Hong Kong creates conflict within individuals. You can be a respectable, upstanding establishment member who frets about young radical hotheads resisting Communist Party encroachment of local freedom – and at the same fret about Communist Party encroachment of local freedom. The young localists are not some last line of defence.

I declare the weekend open with another cheering thought for those who can see silver linings: have you noticed how many Hong Kong stocks are trading at well below their NAVs?


Central, this morning.

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12 Responses to Apres Fishball, la deluge

  1. God bless Our Boys And Girls on the barricades, filling their buckets with bricks or simply lighting a good honest fire. They are shaping up to be a fine urban guerilla force. Ten years down the line they might even evolve into a terrorist cell. It’s all been done before. Crackdown please. Arbitrary arrests please. Internment and bring in the troops. Viva la revolucion.

  2. It’s LE déluge sweedie.

  3. Cassowary says:

    The police are not only not aiming their ire high enough, they’re also aiming it in the wrong direction. They seem to be just fine with being instruments of political repression – many frontline officers genuinely believe they’re the last line of defence against anarchy – they just wish they’d been given bigger and shinier weapons to hit the bastards with.

    As for the arrest of the 3 Hipsters, I’d like to see a deluge of randoms turning themselves in to police stations for possession of offensive weapons such as meat cleavers, broom handles, and bottles of drain cleaner. Why, I myself own a folding chair, which as we all know from Stephen Chow movies are primarily used to beat people with. I may have even read a radical pro-democracy blog on the internet once.

  4. PD says:

    I’m glad you didn’t trot out the hoary old chestnut of a given item of repression of HK values at least serving to show up the authorities for what they are and so proving to be a Pyrrhic victory.

    “The centre cannot hold”: people who are not CP card-carrying members or libertarian anarchists, even those who supported Occupy Central, may be having second thoughts about the wisdom and even “sincerity” of the rioting demonstrators (and demonstrating rioters).

    The root cause, as even Regaina has admitted, is the system of government in general and CY’s inertia and “patriotism” in particular. But you can only go on hitting your head against the wall for a while: unless a strong member of the establishment can come out and stand up for HK and a just society, I see very little hope, whatever happens. Look at Macau and, yes, the “ethnic minority” areas, which have become just that, to get a glimpse of our future.

    The police (yes, I do have an interest) cannot be blamed in this sad affair: at worst they are just obeying orders/guidelines, at best exercising the right of self-defence.

  5. Joe Blow says:

    There is a 94-year-old Auschwitz camp guard on trial in Germany right now. He probably wasn’t exercising his right to self-defense but he was definitely ‘just obeying orders’.

    Btw, quoting Vagina Ip is not cool.

  6. TomH says:

    TVB’s Scoop infiltrated the Kwai Chung separatist cell in 2013 in a Sean Penn-El Chapo sting. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-WcJyF_DPyM&sns=tw

  7. reductio says:

    @Joe Blow

    Godwin’s Law strikes again.

  8. Qian Jin says:

    @”have you noticed how many Hong Kong stocks are trading at well below their NAVs?”

    Hmm! But who calculates these NAV’s and how much out of date are they?

    If you are using figures from the last published annual reports, what percentage of these assets might be related to property valuations, which are now teetering on catastrophic meltdown?

  9. Cry Shop says:

    political corruption referred to self-serving use of public power for private ends.
    including, without limitation, bribery, public decisions to serve private wealth made because of dependent relationships, public decisions to serve executive power made because of dependent relationships, and use by public officials of their positions of power to become wealthy. Two features of the definitional framework of corruption deserve special attention, because they are not frequently articulated by all modern academics or judges. The first feature is that corruption is defined in terms of an attitude toward public service, not in relation to a set of criminal laws. The second feature is that citizenship was understood to be a public office. i.e. that non-elected citizens wielding or attempting to influence public power can be corrupt and that elite corruption is a serious threat to a polity.


    Here we have the police acting corrupt by not acting (until their spokesman, well after the affair, make claims, unsupported that they are finally acting), because not acting is a self-serving use of public power for private gain.

  10. PD says:

    Oh dear! The trains didn’t run on time either. And how many divisions does the pope have?

    Single quotes with US spelling and UK punctuation? Pull your socks up dude!

  11. Red Dragon says:

    Interesting range of occupations (or otherwise) held by those arrested/charged.

    I note that there were no tycoons or civil servants.

    Should we read anything into this?

  12. New Territories South regional crime unit superintendent Chow Kwong-chung said “the contents of the bottles of chemicals are being tested by the government laboratory but he believes they could become offensive weapons if mixed with other liquids.” You mean like water? Why aren’t the police raiding every 7-Eleven in town?

    A first today, by the way – a comment by Qian Jin that I can entirely agree with.

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