Don’t call it ‘political’

The Hong Kong government is doing its whiny defensive best to freak out at the suggestion that last week’s re-sentencing of Joshua Wong and other activists was political. The extreme official panty-wetting reflects the big names who are pointing fingers – the New York Times calling for a Nobel Peace Prize, assorted world politicians, ex-Governor Chris Patten and, not least, Jerome Cohen. The turnout of protestors yesterday adds to the pressure.

It is difficult (as in ‘impossible and unnecessary’) to feel sorry for Hong Kong officials, but this is not their doing. The orders came down from the Party Paranoia Cave in Beijing. Hong Kong’s longstanding tolerance and leniency (for example, over oath-taking) suddenly gave way to obsessive persecution. After an unseemly delay, the activists’ original unremarkable sentences arising from 2014 had to be made much tougher.

There’s more to come. The Communist Party does not do self-restraint and subtlety when it comes to crushing opposition. If this was Xinjiang, they would be shaving beards off – but it’s Hong Kong, so the next step is to come for the likes of Benny Tai on bizarre public nuisance or incitement charges.

The United Front will turn up the volume on its media/shoe-shiners/loyalist cheer-leading machine (some people must need that paycheck so badly). Moderates in the pro-government camp will need to keep their heads down, or join co-opted pro-dem Ronny Tong in his slippery-flexible-vanishing-spine act. Local officials will have to sweat and pretend this isn’t perverse – or, should we say, political.

(A couple of relevant SCMP columns mysteriously buried deep down in the website – here and here.)


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16 Responses to Don’t call it ‘political’

  1. Tamey Tame says:

    Lo certainly needs the money – have you seen the price of real estate in Canada?

  2. PG says:

    You are right about SCMP columns being buried deep in the website – I missed both of them until I followed your links. Makes you wonder why SCMP bothers to post them at all.

  3. Whenever any government says an issue should not be politicised, you can be 100% sure that it is totally political already.

  4. Stephen says:

    I’m sure this blog has some legal types who know what the maximum sentence is for the charges that Benny Tai will likely face ? He will be found guilty (of course) face a custodial sentence (naturally) and lose his job. Afterall you don’t want his sort let loose on young impressionable minds at HKU. The Hong Kong Puppet Administration will bleat that it’s not political but who now believes them ? This is the new political norm and the Pro-Dem’s are going to have to be a lot smarter on how they play this new game. It’s a shame because a few of their brightest minds are currently incarcerated.

  5. Headache says:

    @ Stephen, maximum terms of imprisonment as follows:

    Unlawful assembly: 5 years
    Public nuisance: 7 years
    Riot: 10 years

    These offences could be prosecuted in the ordinary way, if the govt thinks it can prove Benny et al to be personally guilty of them, or as inchoate offences, ie via incitement or conspiracy charges.

    Riot seems unlikely, given that the protests on HK island were relatively peaceful and the MK protesters have had their own leadership if any, but the other charges may be feasible.

    There aren’t a lot of sentencing precedents for these offences, mostly because (as Hemmers says) the govt has in the past exercised restraint and only prosecuted very serious cases.

  6. It’s remarkable all the same. Even considering your prejudices, agenda and poor university education, your conclusions are always wrong. Even my bad students have their good days. You have none.

    The clash between neo-liberals and Communist neo-capitalists is like a game of croquet. Interesting for those taking part but unlikely to interest others.

    Only when the proletariat is engaged can revolution take place. Apart from me and your geriatric Filipino nurses, you never met a member of the working class close up. The “Democrats” of HK are much the same. They aren’t doomed. They’re in the bag.

  7. LRE says:

    I love the way all the officials reading out the “it’s not political, honest, guv” spiel have yet to come up with an alternative narrative about what it is.

    The second clause is totally missing — and I’m fairly sure the draft press releases were originally along the lines of this: “it’s not political, it’s just ***Placeholder whilst DoJ comes up with credible excuse for political persecution*** ” By Saturday when the alternative motive was still a placeholder, they just re-edited the official line to avoid all mention of an alternative, non-political motive.

    @Tamey Tame
    I believe the vernacular phrase for that particular columnist’s credibility is known as “setting a Lo Baa”.

  8. @LRE – how about “It’s not political, it’s just vindictive”?

  9. LRE says:

    @Old Newcomer
    Whilst I don’t doubt it’s vindictive, the fact it’s an unelected government being vindictive about its opponents, and before an up-coming by-election, with just enough jail time to disqualify said opponents from at least one if not two LegCo elections, it’s still very much political.

  10. Hermes says:

    Cleverly ironic piece by Bowring – I never miss his columns. And Peter Guy is excellent as usual, thanks for that. As for Lo, it appears he has sunk to new depths!

  11. Probably says:

    @PG I have it on good authority that the PCMP monitors the popularity of it’s correspondents by the web site hits. JvdK is apparently way out in front even though they never give out links to his articles on twitter. I suspect Phillip Bowring, another insightful journalist, is also someone they don’t want people to find out too much about. They would rather promote some BS about how the US is the root of evil etc…. continued on page 42

  12. Donnie Almond says:

    Carrie 777 is now telling us it’s not political. When 689 was persecuting the democracy movement and she was his loyal servant, was it also not political, Carrie ? And what did you do about it ? Or rather, what didn’t you do about it ?

  13. PG says:

    @Probably Does your “good authority” know what has happened to Shirley Yam since her article was pulled off the SCMP website last month. She has been noticeable by her absence ever since.

  14. There are three possible explanations for the government’s legal cases:
    1. To discourage future civil disobedience. This is clearly a calculated political objective, whatever they say.
    2. Personal vindictiveness towards perceived opponents.
    3. No reason at all.
    So which is it, Rimsky? Since you deny number 1, then it’s either 2 or 3 – nasty or stupid, take your pick. But I’d put my money on a combination of 1 and 2.

  15. Red Dragon says:

    Some nice stuff, chaps; all of which adds up to the fact that Hongkers is fucked.

    But never mind, eh? We’ve still got Gorgeous George, the ginger guru, to set us straight.

    Hang on a sec! I think l’m “channelling” the late, great George Robey, rightly known to milions as “The Prime Minister of Mirth”.

    “I say, I say, I say! What’s the difference between Donald Trump and George Adams?”

    (Afficionados of the Music Hall will recognise this as a rhetorical question. Were it a true question, the answer, of course, would be, “Nothing!”. But I digress.)

    “I don’t know. What is the difference between Donald Trump and George Adams?”

    “Well, Donald Trump is a Twat with a Dick, while George Adams is quite the opposite.”

    Great joke. Guaranteed to knock ’em in the Old Kent Road!

    Sad to say, this harmless little pleasantry would probably be insufficiently non-political for Carrie and Wally, one of whom will end their days face down in a vat of chutney at the annual Warwickshire Women’s Institute “fayre”, while the other will be swapping yarns about incontinence with David Akers-Jones somewhere beyond the 17th milestone on the Castle Peak Road.

    I’ll leave it to you to decide which is which.

  16. ChoppedOnions says:

    Alex Lo’s article has the sub head line starting with: ” The once-venerated newspaper ”
    Its humour Jim, but not as we know it

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