This weekend’s lesson

Hong Kong’s 15th weekend of street protests was average mayhem. But it confirmed several things about how the HK Police are operating – and the bigger picture.

The police seem to be designing conflict – barring marches and subsequently mounting major operations to suppress them. They seem to have quotas for arrests (and even rounds of tear-gas fired), and are heedless of the impact on passers-by or public opinion. They are using the MTR not only to deny protesters mobility, but as a transport and staging resource. In a sign that something is seriously broken, the cops are visibly collaborating with pro-Beijing thugs.

It’s difficult to squeeze a constructive comment out of pro-establishment figures right now. The nearest to an ‘unofficial official line’ I have heard on this is that the Hong Kong administration, HK Police and MTR are under huge criticism from law-abiding and more militant pro-government groups for being too soft on demonstrators. For example, ‘the MTR is giving free rides to young radicals’, and ‘the old Fujianese guys are the fiercest in accusing the cops of not doing their job’.

An interesting discussion of the street conflicts mentions that the high-profile barricade-burning is a distraction, and the real story is the widespread unpopularity of the cops.

Let’s go further. Perhaps the real story now is that the Hong Kong administration has seriously lost legitimacy – in the eyes of Beijing as well as the people. It is playing only a limited role while its two supposed ‘masters’ are in conflict.

The Liaison Office is now in de facto control of the police (and MTR). The United Front can marshal triads, clan associations and other groups (though their participation so far looks opportunistic). In theory it has all those grassroots voting-fodder in the housing estates (again, not much evidence that they’re being mobilized for counter-demonstrations beyond some patriotic mall-singing). Less dependable local elements of this alliance include the tycoons (who are petrified), and authoritarian/conservative types like Regina Ip voters, retired teachers, Christians, etc.

On the other side: the rest of the Hong Kong people. A glance at big rallies, and Carrie Lam’s approval rating of 17%, suggest that easily two thirds of the population is on-side. These are people who feel strongly about defending their way of life from Beijing. Many are also bitter about longstanding livelihood issues/social injustice. Realization that they are alone – the local administration is essentially out of the picture – and shock at CCP-style police tactics are uniting them.

Maybe this standoff is Beijing’s idea of a holding pattern until the sacred October 1 National Day is over and the CCP can get serious about sorting Hong Kong out. That will mean filling the legitimacy vacuum in the Hong Kong government in some way. (For a clue as to how, ask yourself whether the CCP, after it takes tighter control over something, usually lets it go again later.)

Meanwhile, this situation looks like it’s sliding into some African state in the 1970s where the small minority tribe runs the palace and the military, and the majority ethnic group has had enough.

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20 Responses to This weekend’s lesson

  1. Bobby says:

    “The Liaison Office is now in de facto control of the police (and MTR). The United Front can marshal triads, clan associations and other groups (though their participation so far looks opportunistic). ”

    From a police insider, who I have known for a few years. This happened nearly three months ago. They were instrumental in provocation from the get-go. I was told by this source that in staging meetings or debriefs, they were instructed on how to police, and this source said, “It’s obvious we are not in control, and neither is Lam.”

    It is not an exaggeration to state that this is a dangerous situation developing in the city.
    1. The government is not in control.
    2. Serious harm and death is around the corner.
    3. there will never be any need for the PLA because this has been a successful coup of the government by the police proxy.
    4. Lam should just rip her shirt off and declare freedom. She has already killed us.

  2. Joe Blow says:

    Oh, the sacred October 1 fiesta ! A crowd funding effort has met its target of HK$ 8 million within 24 hours. The money will be used to buy newspaper ad space worldwide on October 1. The message will explain Hong Kong’s fight for freedom. It’s going to be so much fun because the reactionary, mouth frothing CCP brigade can do nothing about it.

  3. Cassowary says:

    People are almost certainly being tortured inside San Uk Ling prison, where many of the protesters are being detained. Two thirds of the fifty-odd people detained there have been hospitalized, six of them with fractures. We now have our very own black site.

  4. Given that our judges are still mostly honest, masses of dubious cases against protesters are likely to be slung out when they finally reach the courts. It might be less embarrassing for the authorities to agree to the protesters’ demand for an amnesty.

  5. Reactor #4 says:

    My bet is that the Beijing will turn up shortly after October 1, very possibly Saturday October 5. Then, the egger-oners will perhaps wish that the rioters had quit when the CLam said the Extradition Bill was dead. As is, HK will be well and truly 4cked rather than being 15-20% sub-optimal (which is what most desirable societies are). If you think it it bullshit, name some Western democratic societies that are >90% perfect?

    The fact is, we all knew what the rules were, AND we had more than six decades to work with them (six decades is the almost an entire life-time). Instead, though, rather than just “blowin’ the bloody doors off” (to kill the extradition bill) the idiot rioters and their supporters could very well have gone and done the whole damn thing in. No wonder the boys from Fujian are livid. I am also.

  6. Mark Bradley says:

    “ This happened nearly three months ago. They were instrumental in provocation from the get-go. I was told by this source that in staging meetings or debriefs, they were instructed on how to police, and this source said, “It’s obvious we are not in control, and neither is Lam.”

    I have no doubt that the liaison office thugs started giving police marching orders 3 months ago, but this is still back firing badly for the ccp.

    Having 80% of your population hate the police, hate the government, and hate the ccp can’t be good for governance. Even though the commies fully control the police by proxy and have a police state, it’s still back firing badly.

  7. RIP Hong Police Force 1844-2019 says:

    Essentially this weekend taught everyone who was slow on the uptake or just hopelessly optimistic that Hong Kong’s police force no longer exists.

    In its place there’s just gangs of hired thugs with various states of funding and equipment under the loose control of the UFWD enforcing the rule of the politburo under whatever “law” it reckons is good for today.

  8. Siu Jiu says:

    @Private Beach:
    I’m less optimistic about our judges, since they count among them the brilliant legal minds who convicted in the “assault with breasts” case and who removed three teens from their homes a few weeks ago for the crime of watching “Winter on Fire” in public.

    But yes: of the huge number of arrests, only 200 some odd have been formally charged, and surely the vast majority won’t get anywhere near a conviction. A huge portion are spurious, purely harassment arrests of people who happened to be standing on the street.

  9. Mark Bradley says:

    “Given that our judges are still mostly honest, masses of dubious cases against protesters are likely to be slung out when they finally reach the courts.”

    And “serious” crimes like rioting require a jury trial. We already had one jury acquit a drunk guy who took a cop’s gun and then shot him in the leg. Expect more of that.

  10. Donny Almond says:

    The rich doctors got the memo from the Liaison Office too.

  11. Reactor #4 says:

    @Cassowary

    “People are almost certainly being tortured inside San Uk Ling prison”

    And?

  12. Cassowary says:

    @Private Beach: That’s probably why the cops are sure to give them a good kicking while they’re still in custody. They don’t think the courts will reliably deliver convictions, so they’re getting their punishment in while they can.

  13. old git says:

    LegCo remains in recess with no plan for resuming and one wonders what the financial cost has been to pay a 1,000 strong secretariat plus the Executive Council to do nothing. At an educated guess it would be north of HKD200 million so far. Will this be mentioned in next month’s Address to the SAR by the Chief Executive?

  14. Mark Bradley says:

    @Siu Jiu

    There will always be overly conservative and statist judges especially in the lower and middle tiers of the judiciary. But the majority of judges are still good especially once the court of final appeal is factored in. In the long term as British judges retire and the CE appoints more conservative judges in their place your concerns are valid.

  15. Jason says:

    Just a thought:
    What would happen, if someone high up in the CCP realized that the current approach isn’t working? Instead of antagonizing almost every young Hongkonger and a large majority of citizens from all walks of life, turning AGAINST the police could be a better strategy to win the hearts and minds of the population.
    If the PLA came in, killing a few hundred cops, and incarcerating a few thousand in labour camps, there would be much support among the wider population. This has to be followed by installing competent people in Government positions and the purge of some of the most embarrassing slimebags.
    The new Hong Kong arises!

  16. Cassowary says:

    If you expect me to explain to you why torture isn’t OK, you are mistaken about how much I can be bothered with such nonsense.

  17. Casira says:

    @Jason : If PLA comes in hk police will be the first ones escaping HK. There will be scapegoats eventually.

  18. Jason says:

    @Casira: There wouldn’t be much resistance from the police, it would be over with their teamwork, like randomly beating and torturing teenagers. They would blame each other and everyone would just try to save his/her skin unable to understand that they are now on the receiving end.

  19. dimuendo says:

    Jason

    I assume your first post is an example of your well known sense of humour (or is it a pitch for more orthopaedic surgery opportunities?). Whatever I , and many others, may currently think of the HK police force, they are vastly preferable to the PLA or PAP as the replacement/alternative, should your musing manifest. Bear in mind that the protests are taking place, and some even being allowed. Will not be allowed oop north under your PLA/PAP.

  20. Jason says:

    @dimuendo

    What I meant with my “thought” is an PLA, deserving this name. They disappear, after punishing the HKP thugs.
    Concerning PAP: Some of them, a few hundred, are very likely already absorbed into the HKP Force.

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