Weird scenes inside the shopping mall

Hong Kong’s demonstrations spread to the suburbs, namely Shatin (and on Saturday, Sheung Shui, plus a downtown press march).

Students of urban geography and crowd control will see a pattern. The police tactics that fail to work in the sterile administrative zone of Admiralty, and are unsuccessful in the crowded retail district of Kowloon, do not translate well to the border-town/smuggling-hub environment, nor to the residential-mall Podium Land neighbourhood around New Town Plaza. Maybe they would be effective in country parks.

On Bastille Day, Hong Kong celebrates the storming of the shopping mall. The quintessential ‘Hong Kong in 2019’ moment, in which a banana republic’s Guardia Nacional blunders into a glitzy First World consumer paradise. Open this Pic of the Week from Apple Daily in full size. The more you look at it, the weirder it gets – right down to floral details apparently by Jeff Koons.

There is now a routine. A march, which proceeds peacefully, is followed by a standoff with the police, which turns violent. Since the protestors pose no threat to bystanders or to private property (give or take the odd Sheung Shui pharmacy shutter), it follows there would be no mayhem if the cops just let them occupy a few streets into the night. Would civilization grind to a halt?

Instead, the police priorities in practice require confronting the crowd. This seems to have gone beyond restoring road-traffic flow to something more personal (which goes both ways – yesterday’s peaceful march included a barrage of extreme insults about dogs and mothers aimed at the police lining the route). The increasingly friendless and bitter cops are also now rubbing up against shoppers and local residents.

It looks as if – since the tear-gas barrage that heralded the Umbrella/Occupy movement in 2014 – the police are under government pressure to confront and use force to appease Beijing’s officials, for whom the idea of impartial public service is an abhorrence and any political challenge must be crushed. Hard to see how this this cycle cannot get worse.

Which bring us to Chief Executive Carrie Lam, reportedly trying to resign but being compelled to ‘clean up the mess’ (FT story). Is this being leaked by Beijing to torment the miserable creature? Or by her and her colleagues in an attempt to gain sympathy? (She is Catholic, so a suicide attempt is out.) Given the stress on the fact that ‘no-one else wants the job’, is anything we don’t know really being leaked?

The assumption is that Beijing will not dismiss her right now, as it would be a loss of face and – more to the point – a dangerous concession to public opinion, inviting Color Revolution chaos.

There is a practical issue, as well. Under the Basic Law, the new CE has to be appointed via the fake-election system involving a rigged body of 1,200 voters. Such a farcical exercise is unthinkable in the current climate. Any other method of installing a new CE would amount to openly declaring direct rule over Hong Kong, which is also unthinkable. By ‘unthinkable’, we mean ‘could easily happen’.

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10 Responses to Weird scenes inside the shopping mall

  1. Joseph’s Beaver says:

    I can think of only one acne-scarred teenager who is right for the job. Call in Joseph Wan of Support! International. His shoe shining and coziness with Lam will be seen as experience. And his fresh face and eloquence a welcome change.

  2. Sam Clemens says:

    A deft allusion to “Apocalypse Now” via The Doors in the title of the piece.


  3. HillnotPeak says:

    Hopefully the Brits will declare Carry Persona non Grata and refuse her entry to the UK. She can then reside at the lovely countryside near Shenzhen or some other picturesque place in her beloved motherland.
    Boris, there is a job for you to be done.

  4. Des Espoir says:

    The amazing thing about Carrie is that she has no sense of priorities… she should presumably be setting up all kinds of task forces, and planning what to do next, but I understand she spent the other day opening a kindergarten on Lamma… On the morning after Typhoon Mangkhut, she went to an actuaries conference… What can we do with the woman…

  5. Carrie is pretty much stuck in a Catch-22 situation. Beijing won’t let her leave till she cleans up her mess, but is likely to block her from taking any action which could resolve the crisis (even if she had the will and the imagination to try).

  6. old git says:

    The Basic Law provides for due process which is excluded by the extradition bill and asset freezing bill by their sheer scope. Those are grounds enough to withdraw the bills.

  7. Inspector Wong says:

    Question of the month re the HK police

    If we still had British-recruited police officers in enough volume through the senior ranks (not just a token few) and British-recruited Inspectors to handle the JPOs, Junior Police Officers, in enough volume (not just a token few), would we have the clusterf**** police we see today in Hong Kong.

    Discuss. Moan, Wail, Whine.

    Given how useless Britain has become in the last couple of decades it’s a close call.

  8. Guest says:

    @Des Espoir: it was a library, but we get your point.

  9. Bluebottle says:

    @Inspector Wong Given today’s Youtube link; Soho A Go-Go I expect.

  10. dimuendo says:

    Inspector Wong

    I was told very recently there are still 80 of them.

    Given the decision to let off tear gas that basically precipitated Occupy in 2014 was taken by an expatriate officer (so we are told) and allegedly the recent decision to use rubber bullets was taken by an expatriate officer, I am far from sure their having greater numbers would have improved the recent cluster fuck (to quote you) of inept policing and poor leadership.

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