Another fine mess

The boy Joshua is found guilty. Amnesty International says the prosecution of the three student leaders for public order offences at the beginning of the 2014 Occupy/Umbrella protests SCMP-StudentsJaillooks like political intimidation. Law professor Benny Tai, who conceived the pro-democracy sit-ins, is more laid-back; the three were involved in civil disobedience, he said on the radio this morning, which by definition means breaking the law.

These two views are not mutually exclusive. Hong Kong authorities are under pressure from Beijing’s Liaison Office to use more Mainland-style, strike-hard, kill-chickens approaches to dealing with opponents and critics. Selective application of vague ordinances is a suitably ‘rule by law’ method.

We will now see how well the Communist Party’s tactics play out in a pluralistic society with a free press. If Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow get prison sentences, the angel-faced pro-democracy martyrs will be all over Time and the BBC, the city’s reputation falls yet further, and liberal-minded citizens will have an extra reason to vote against pro-government candidates in September’s Legislative Council election. If the kids get a small fine or community service, the charges and the prosecution look stupid. The government ‘loses’ either way. That’s how well this Leninist stuff works in a free society.

But the Liaison Office can’t help itself. Another of its brainwaves – the ‘loyalty test’ for candidates running in September – continues its descent into farce.

In a brave attempt to make the thing seem logical, pro-Beijing lawmaker Tsang Yok-sing argues that if you don’t want to recognize Hong Kong as part of China, you shouldn’t want to be elected to the city’s legislature…


It sounds convincing to the South China Morning Post’s editorial writers, who include it in their (nonetheless skeptical) leader on the subject…


It’s a lame argument: if you don’t like the system, don’t take part in it. It’s not like there’s a choice of Legislative Councils you can run for.

The pan-democrats publicly refuse to sign the suddenly-introduced declaration required of candidates. Typically, no official will (or can?) say what will happen. If the government Stan-PanDemsdoes not allow them onto the ballot, Hong Kong gets more martyrs – namely politicians screened out for their beliefs. A pro-dem voters’ boycott of the election could follow. All in Time and the BBC, of course. If the government does let them run, it makes itself a laughing stock. Thanks, Liaison Office.

But wait! There’s more! While the mainstream pan-dems are being principled, their wackier fringe comrades are getting mischievous. Localist group Civic Passion members are signing the declaration apparently in order to subsequently disown and contradict it, thus risking arrest for Grand Fibbing – or whatever hilarious response the Hong Kong authorities decide for their next exercise in self-mutilation.

I declare the weekend open with a quandary. Do I give in to months and months of on-line hectoring and pop-up boxes and countdowns, and update my PC to Bill Gates’s latest Giant Hairball Windows 10 operating system with totally-different-user-interface-for-no-good-reason in the last few days before the Free!!! offer runs out? Or do I stick with what I know works and suits me fine?


It was a rhetorical question.

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14 Responses to Another fine mess

  1. reductio says:

    I’m glad someone like Hemmers has the guts to put this out in the public domain. I’m with you, Bro: don’t change to Windows 10.

  2. Probably says:

    Windows 10? Kids, Just say no ! I did it by accident once and have lived to regret it ever since.

    Bring back Windows 3.11

  3. HillnotPeak says:

    And Billy Fung is charged with…..breaking a door frame.

  4. Des Espoir says:

    Microsoft tell you that everything will work exactly the same as before… Don’t believe it… my keyboard and spelling keeps flicking back to US system from UK system, my Excel spreadsheets now produce numbers in the most bizarre format, and audio-books completely fell over (and could only be rescued by a very helpful on-line man, who spent about an hour sorting it, saying “This always happens with Windows 10″….

  5. Chris Maden says:

    From a (kind of) computer professional: DO NOT UPGRADE TO WINDOWS 10.

  6. Monkey the Unborn says:

    Buy a macbook…

    6 months of pain followed by a life-time of freedom. Kind of like the CCP in a grand historical context kind of way.

    Plus you look cool and its get you girls.

  7. PD says:

    It’s not clear, to me at least, if Windows 10 will be free for ever after to those that “upgrade” now; but in any case I refuse to bend to something that tried to force itself onto me. xp was a better system if only because you could look at the gubbins if, or rather when, problems arose.

    Agreed that Amnesty, despite its excellent record, has overreacted in the Joshua case.

    Perhaps Jasper’s “argument” should be thrown back at him: if he doesn’t like the HK system, he should go back to his ancestral homeland.

    Hemlock, One can have considerable sympathy with your optimistic view that defeats by the forces of darkness will merely strengthen the resolve of those still standing, bolstered by international public support. But unfortunately it doesn’t always work like that — otherwise despotic regimes would tumble like dominoes.

    The problem is that those who hold the reins of power are unified; while liberal/democratic/freedom-loving individuals are just that: easy to pick off, split, intimidate, coerce.

    In history, there have been many cases of the permanent break up of countries — Singapore, Ireland, Vietnam, Korea, Germany, Yugoslavia, most of the colonial empires — but voluntary departures from contiguous more-or-less monolingual dictatorships are rare.

  8. Cassowary says:

    No no no no no! The worst possible outcome would be for the pan-dems to boycott the election. They should not succumb to the temptation to play the principled martyr. Then the pro-government camp can pass whatever the hell the Liaison Office wants. Constitutional “reform”, Article 23, national education. Only the fear of riots in the streets would restrain them, and then only maybe.

    Sure they’ll get a lot of negative attention from Time and BBC. So? Is there any indication that Beijing cares about that? Has that ever gotten them to be less oppressive? Besides, nobody in the west’s got time to worry about what China’s doing. Brexit’s got the UK in an omnishambles, Europe is flailing, America’s trying its best to elect a sociopathic orangutan. Come on, pan-dems. Get your shit together. Nobody will come to save us.

    This is not a game.

  9. LRE says:

    Windows 10 isn’t too bad, actually, for a Windows OS. Good for gaming* (dx11 & slightly better FPS), fairly stable too (again, with the disclaimer “for an MS OS”). The x64 version appears to be actually purpose built rather than a dodgy kludge stapled on at the last minute. You can also still reach most of gubbins, except for the weird new dodgy phone style “apps” which appear to be cordoned-off.

    MS seems to continue to conform to the knitting-esque rule for it’s OSes: skip one: (WinMe), install one: (XP); skip one: (Vista), install one: (Win 7); skip one: (Win 8), install one: (Win 10).

    *Let’s face it: if you’re not gaming, why on earth would you be using an expensive, bottom of the range (P)OS like Windows?!? — get a *nix. Profit.

  10. Mary Melville says:

    Google has also foisted an inferior product on users via its Crappy Chrome.
    They cut off functions like Copy to force you to install Chrome and Print no longer produces a zoomed in image. Moreover the maps it produces are inferior and have no handy margin to make notes on. The info bar has been removed and replaced with symbols to the side and the page numbers erratically appear or disappear at the top. No Find function so you have to open old style Google to find something on a multi page doc and then switch back to Chrome to print.
    Of course this might be the griping of an ageing Luddite. If there are solutions to the above do share them.

  11. C.Law says:

    Cassowary, you are so right!

    LRE, taken in isolation you may be right, but the main problem with Win 10 is the amount of data that it sends back to MS from your computer. Just check a few techie-type websites to see the gory details.

  12. Knownot says:

    A.D. 2097

    I met a traveller from a distant land
    Who said, on Cathay’s verdant southern strand
    There lie the ruins of a mighty place;
    Of living human beings, not a trace.
    Every building is an empty shell
    Slowly, softly crumbling to the ground,
    Where ancient ‘Free Gift!’ coupons may be found
    And crumpled cans of Coke and San Miguel.
    Kicking up the plastic bags, he found –
    Amid the halls of commerce, buy and sell,
    Amid the prowling dogs and squealing birds –
    A scrap of paper with the mystic words,
    ‘In accordance with the Basic Law,’
    Just a piece of paper, nothing more.

    with acknowledgement to ‘Ozymandias’ by P.B. Shelley

  13. There are a number of legislatures around the world containing members who want to break away from the nation in whose parliament they sit – the UK, Canada and Spain, for example. Someone should invite Nicola Sturgeon to visit and have a chat with Jasper Tsang – but she’d probably be refused entry as a dangerous “splittist” (surely the ugliest of the near-English words coined by the CCP).

  14. WTF says:

    Remember when Benny lost touch with his own base for Occupy Central. I use to think he was a putz, but apparently even experienced politician/activist can make the same goof. Bernie Sanders Left Delegates With No Way to Fight But Boo

    If the CCP could learn to run a monopoly on power like the USA, then we’d really have to worry about corruption of the political process in HK.

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