As we all know from the official-unofficial leaked true-facts version of the story, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam pretty much planned, launched and directed the whole extradition fiasco single-handed. The most interesting thing about this account is that, of all the different permutations of who-did-what you could devise, this is the one that happens to maximize Carrie’s culpability while almost entirely removing Beijing’s officials from the picture. Funny, that!
Alternative narratives might put more stress on some other factors. For example: lifelong bureaucrat Carrie does not do ‘bold initiatives’; the Hong Kong government does not have authority over cross-border or Taiwan-related affairs; and it is the Chinese Communist Party, not its Hong Kong puppets, that wants a formal cross-border extradition system.
Not that Carrie is blameless. Her unbelievably awful personal style alienated a previously passive population of moderates and fence-sitters – notably her robotic and contemptuous reaction to the first huge demonstration on June 9.
Then there is the issue of timing. The introduction of the extradition bill coincided with unhelpful events, from the imprisonment of academic Benny Tai et al on trumped-up political charges to a worsening of the US-China trade war.
This bad timing continues. Hong Kong went through a transformation last month, yet idiocies set in motion long before June 2019 roll on as if nothing has happened.
While the government starts bleating about giving youth a voice, its Beijing-ordered drive to disqualify young opposition candidates from elections moves on to District Councils. Officials insisting they will listen to the community are still defending unpopular and absurd land-development privileges for village mafias. As the leadership stands frozen in indecision, civil servants in the Twilight Zone blithely release their annual gooey video about the fake public consultation on the Chief Executive’s upcoming ritual and vacuous Policy Address. Meanwhile, someone has unleashed packs of rabid xenophobic geriatrics onto the streets to rip Martin Luther King quotes off the walls.