Cops conclude home-made soap is… home-made soap

SCMP-PoliceChief

The poor Hong Kong Police. For a while, in the 1990s and 2000s, they were probably one of the most popular forces in the world. Surveys consistently showed them to be people’s favourite government department. No-one called them ‘pigs’ or ‘filth’. They had a reputation (at least) for a reasonable degree of competence. Accusations of brutality were rare. Nearly everyone saw them as fair and even-handed.

Little anecdote… A bit under 10 years ago, radical activist ‘Long Hair’ Leung Kwok-hung was part of a sit-in protest in Victoria Park. Fearing it could drag out, the authorities told participants they could leave but not return to the spot. This was a problem for Long Hair, as smoking had just been banned in parks, and he needed the occasional cigarette. After hearing the law-abiding radical activist’s pleas, the cops came to an arrangement whereby he could step just outside the barriers for a quick smoke and then go back.

Times have changed. The Chinese Communist Party does not do politically impartial civil service. In the Mainland, any government agency is a political tool, and in the last few years Beijing has ordered Hong Kong to fall into line and use public services to fight political opponents. Chinese officials apparently insisted that the pro-democracy Occupy Central movement was on a par with some sort of coup attempt, and the order was passed on to the police. When the protest began, the cops turned it into global news – and shocked Hong Kong – by firing dozens of rounds of tear gas and going nuts with pepper spray. In the following months they beat protestors, turned a blind eye to thugs who beat protestors, tried to take ‘chalk girl’ away from her family and arrested innocent people.

Since then, the police have participated in melodramatic and staged arrests of government opponents, discovered a ‘bomb-making’ plot that apparently never was, failed to cooperate in the investigation into the Ken Tsang case, fired shots in the air in the Mongkok fishball riot, tried to hush up the compensation payments to wrongly arrested people and otherwise humiliated themselves. Young people who would once have respected the police now mock them. The United Front pays grungy old uncles and aunts to don blue ribbons and mount clunky pro-police demonstrations.

And the latest: the dangerous fiends suspected of possessing offensive weapons with intent were actually environmentalists doing some recycling project to help old folks – which, bizarrely enough, as the sleuths might just have noticed, was exactly what they looked like. The Commissioner insists the gallant boys in blue were right to think the greenies were mutant psycho terrorists, meaning that he knows another screw-up when he sees one.

What has happened is that the Liaison Office has sent the word down via Chief Executive CY Leung that the cops must protect Hong Kong and the nation and help to crush evil foreign-backed splittist counter-revolutionaries. Being dutiful, literal-minded and not really into nuances – and presumably emboldened by the sort of esprit de corps of uniformed services – the police have gone ahead and followed orders.

The police still arrest suspected bad guys, and when not serving the Communist Party come across as professional and courteous. But their reputation and image have nose-dived. Another Liaison Office success story.

Stan-SuspectNabbed

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11 Responses to Cops conclude home-made soap is… home-made soap

  1. Joe Blow says:

    Franklin. You didn’t mention Franklin. Now that you mention it, when are they going to prosecute Franklin ?

  2. What’s all this then?

    Oh how I loved the Hong Kong bobbies when I first arrived in Hong Kong in 1988 or so, comforting and such a change from the Mainland. On Lantau, the policeman on duty often saluted me when I alighted from the ferry. He thought I was one of the inspectors. But little by little the police became or perhaps always were dumb clerks in uniform, Keytone Cops with a notebook and pencil. Only the most extreme violence or iniquity would now compel me to call for their assistance. They are as much use as a glass hammer in most everyday situations and their waste of one’s time is immense. I shudder to think how many forms have – 500, 5000?

    Mind how you go.

  3. Inspector Corner. says:

    The Police Force experienced a downgrade in its status with the introduction of the ministerial system. In the past, the Commissioner had direct access to the Governor and the CE. This changed when the ministerial system came in. The Commissioner now operates through Security Bureau, as just another department head. This organisational change somewhat curtailed the autonomy of the Force. This is now having operational consequences. Plus the departure of expats, who tended to bring a balanced view to things, is having an impact. As regards, Long Hair, I can attest to the story and the fact he was willing to share his cigarettes.

  4. Real Fax Paper says:

    Kyrie Liaison (Office)

  5. LRE says:

    I think they could have got away with the prosecution. After all, aren’t breasts now classed as offensive weapons in Liaison Kong? Surely that basically covers the cops when dealing with mammals.

    @Real Fax Paper
    Is that the nice choral bit from Mozart’s Requiem for Democracy?

  6. Real Fax Paper says:

    Yes, LRE. The Benedictus is quite lovely, too: OBOR in excelsis!

  7. Cassowary says:

    The Liaison Office has been quite clear about securing the loyalty of everyone in Hong Kong, everyone except for the population.

  8. Walter De Havilland says:

    Breasts are an offensive weapon. I’ve been bled of money after admiring a fine pair.

  9. Mary Melville says:

    Re the bomb plot at the TV studios , as far as I am aware two of the suspects are still in detention, over one year now. Enquiries made when the booksellers were in the news, they enjoyed more freedom than detainees here, led nowhere. There appears to be little interest in their fate.

  10. Red Dragon says:

    Bloody hell!

    Red letter day.

    I find myself agreeing with “Doctor” Adams, who, for once, says something sensible, and, apart from the final sentence, reasonably comprehensible.

    Oh yes, and “Keytone Cops”. Am I missing some profound apercu here?

  11. Laguna Lurker says:

    As Inspector Corner points out, the police has “experienced a downgrade in its status”. However this was not so much the result of the introduction of the ministerial system, but rather as a result of the loss of police officers’ status as Crown Servants after 1997. Now, they are mere government servants. Formerly, as Crown Servants, they owed direct allegiance to the Crown, which endowed them with the power to arrest and prosecute as necessary anyone from the Governor on down.

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