Is anyone keeping a list?

It is hard to keep up with all the real, apparent, suspected or potential threats to Hong Kong people’s rights and freedoms from north of the border (leaving aside the latest quality-of-life horrors).

Some look farcical, like the extreme ‘anti-terrorism’ precautions during the visit of the hitherto barely-known Beijing official Zhang Dejiang in May. Some are petty, vindictive and creepy, like the government’s airbrushing of the movie Ten Years out of existence (or private-sector kowtowing like Lancome’s withdrawal of sponsorship from Denise Ho). Others are unambiguous attacks on the independence of institutions, such as the appointment of government-friendly figures on universities’ governing bodies. One – the booksellers’ abductions and forced confessions – is so egregious as to leave local officials humiliated and exposed as powerless.

The last few days have brought us two more.

First is the presence of the local PLA commander at a recent Hong Kong Police passing-out parade…


This is not unprecedented and would belong at the farcical end of the scale except for garrison commander Tan Benhong’s comments at the ceremony. He referred to ‘rule of law’, which is not a PLA competency at the best of times, and is especially rich following the presumed kidnapping of Lee Bo off Hong Kong’s streets. He also commended the police for ‘supporting the government’ – a classic Communist Party view of the force’s role. In modern Hong Kong, most people would say it is the government’s role to support the police as a service that protects and serves the public.

Second, and probably far more serious, is the removal of Rebecca Li as top investigator at the Independent Commission Against Corruption…


In the absence of a sound reason, this looks squarely in the ‘attack on institutional independence’ part of the spectrum. One theory is that Li was vetoed by Beijing for having been trained/tainted by the FBI. Another is that her removal is linked to the allegations of graft against Chief Executive CY Leung (the less-than-watertight non-compete payment from UGL).

The pretext for Li’s departure isn’t the point. The real question is what it means if the ICAC is to be a tool of the Beijing-guided Hong Kong government, rather than a constraint on abuse of power. If the ICAC becomes the local subsidiary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection – persecuting or ignoring tigers and flies at the Leninist regime’s whim – Beijing’s favoured companies and officials will be immune from anti-graft laws in Hong Kong, as they are in the rest of the one-party state.

The whole point of the city’s post-1997 deal was to make sure that this didn’t happen. The trend suggests that China’s overseers are becoming less ‘gradual and orderly’ and more bold and arrogant in extending and tightening the party-state’s grip over Hong Kong’s institutions. Still, no-one in the ultra-highly paid and mollycoddled power structure speaks out, and fear just makes the business community shoe-shine ever-harder. When will it be the judiciary’s turn?

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11 Responses to Is anyone keeping a list?

  1. Joe Blow says:

    Who exactly made the decision to remove Rebecca Li ? And what was the exact reason for doing so ?

    If there was grand jury in HK, this would be a job for them. This screams for a parliamentary inquiry.

    LegCo, do your job !

  2. Hong Kong Hibernian says:

    Meanwhile, over at the The Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups, the new issue of ‘Youth Hong Kong’ carries more water for the communist One Belt, One Road initiative.

    See page 40 for a brief review of an exhibition of artworks which is a ‘humble attempt’ to ‘echo China’s long history of interaction and exchange with other countries’. No artifacts proving the communist’s long involvement (and therefore, sovereignty) in the South China Sea.

    On page 42, one can learn about ‘independent backpacking with a purpose’, all while moving towards ‘Destination Belt and Road’.

    Buried on page 51, (and getting back on the topic of biglychee’s post), is the piece entitled ‘What Makes Young People Feel Negative’. Reading through the bullet points, (no Tiananmen Square Massacre pun intended), one learns that ‘there is a general lack of confidence in the implementation of “One Country, Two Systems”.

    Really? Oops!

    It seems that the patron of the HKFYG, a certain C.Y. Leung, needs to press the Dragon Foundation to include more of these sceptical youth in the upcoming ‘One Belt One Road’ event:

  3. reductio says:

    @ HK Hibernian

    Good links. Especially like the poster which states “ACT NOW If you are ethnically Chinese, aged 18-35 …” So if you are not ethnically Chinese you can piss off.

  4. Sock drawer or Hong Kong affairs?

    The socks have it. The socks have it.

  5. Walter De Havilland says:

    The ‘FBI’ course is attended by most of the senior people in the police and the ICAC, its one of the boxes they tick on the way up. They also attend Bramshill ( English Police College) and Tulliallan (Scottish Police College – a fine institution with its own single malt). The Mainland sends its people on the same courses, so I don’t buy the tainted argument. It’s more likely Ms LI was displaying independence of thought, something the tightly controlled ICAC doesn’t like.

  6. LRE says:

    AngryCook sagely pointed out the ICAC should now be renamed the CAC.

    But even with the bonus of the acronym being “cack”, I reckon it’s still a misnomer, now Beijing has taken charge, and given the commission the old “one-two” (or One system, Two countries principle).

    I think perhaps renaming it CASC, despite it’s less amusing “cask” acronym would reflect their implicit new remit much better:
    The Commission Against Some Corruption.

  7. PCC says:

    “When will it be the judiciary’s turn?” That is the question.

    Chief Justice Ma and the senior judges around him have earned and deserve the public’s trust. However, whispers about the lack of fidelity to the rule of law on the part of judges and judicial officials below the highest levels are cause for worry.

  8. Chinese Netizen says:

    For all their bad press on becoming more “militaristic” and getting surplus gear from past middle east campaigns, I seriously don’t think ANY American police department passing out ceremony includes bayonets on assault weapons.

    What’s even more loathsome is knowing that the little PLA toad reviewing the troops got his job purely from political arse licking, patronage and probably some well placed red envelopes during Spring Festival.

    HK Police…new reserve force of the PLA????

  9. Joe Blow says:

    @Chinese Netizen: please don’t forget that magical moment at the very beginning of Occupy Central when Asia’s “Finest” were marching through the streets of Central with live bullet rifles. Not quite bayonets but enough fire power to show that they were real men.

  10. WTF says:

    It could be worse, CY Leung’s adminstration could have been competent. Thankfully, the British influnce is still being felt.

    On Albert Speer:

    He symbolizes indeed a type, which among all the belligerents has become increasingly important: the pure technician, the classless, brilliant man without a background, who knows no other goal than to make his way in the world, purely on the basis of his technical and organisational capabilities….This is his age. We can get rid of the Hitlers and the Himmlers, but not the Speers. Whatever may be the fate of each individual man, they will be with us for a long time.

  11. oberon says:

    So ICAC will soon have to be called just CAC no I (independent).

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