The Hong Kong government and/or Jockey Club cancels both the National Day fireworks, and a horse-racing night. Owing to unforeseen popular uprisings beyond our control.
It’s unclear what could go wrong with the fireworks display – the curt official press release mentions ‘the latest situation’. Maybe they think crowds will mock the patriotic pyrotechnics somehow. Or they are afraid that, after three months of tear gas and rubber bullets everywhere, people will find the show boring. Perhaps we are supposed to be Sorely Vexed and blame the evil radicals for ruining innocent children’s fun. It is a mystery.
The race night is cancelled because one horse in one race belongs to widely loathed gangster-friendly pro-Beijing figure Junius Ho. Maybe the Club is concerned that someone will repeat suffragette Emily Davison’s historic protest. For horse-racing types, this is a big deal – the evening’s mind-numbing pastime could have gone ahead had Ho (of whom they clearly know little) done the sporting gentlemanly thing and withdrawn the nag.
Any chance of cancelling some golf, or the bizarre Formula E thing?
The government did not cancel yesterday’s Meet the Riff-Raff PR Stunt between Carrie Lam and district council members – but it probably should have, as only one in five of the invitees turned up. This means even most pro-Beijing members boycotted the event. Presumably, they hope this will give them an air of trendy, hip, edgy credibility among voters ahead of the forthcoming elections.
This will be followed by a series of Meet the Peasants Photo-Ops starting next week – part of the Daringly Bold Pilot Scheme for Listening to the Natives. It is ‘headed by a retired bureaucrat’ (originally a cop, who rose to become Permanent Secretary for [I’m not making this up] Innovation and Technology), whose remit is to ‘take charge of coordinating the dialogue platform programmes initiated by the government and suggestions made by the non-government sector’.
It is easy to make fun of the fact that Carrie Lam’s answer to everything is to set up a committee. But this obviously pitiful and insulting Platform for Dialogue idea is more symbolically meaningful than you might think.
For 20 years, the Hong Kong government has refused to listen to public opinion – and now it has finally blown up in their faces. The Hong Kong administration, as an institution, has lost legitimacy not only among the Hong Kong people, but among the Chinese leadership. Beijing has pushed it aside, taken command of key functions like the police, and ordered the local officials to do nothing except await orders as the CCP decides how to fix the mess. The Hong Kong government has been allowed to set up its harmless little Platform for Dialogue precisely because it will have no impact on anything.
Some thoughts, as always:
Calling things a platform is probably meant to send the message that “we are going deep and we are going broad,” and using innovative dialogue techniques to bring Hong Kong into the future, politically. Unfortunately, it also sends the message that the administration doesn’t know what a platform is, technically speaking, in this day of social and offline engagement politics.
As for the fireworks, judging by the way the Central Offices collect intelligence (by dreaming up the worse case scenarios, ignoring them, and then dreaming up implausible events and believing that they actually have data to suggest they will happen), they probably are convinced an army of drones — maybe the same drones that derailed the KCR cars??? — are perched on every high rise overlooking the harbour and will be launched within seconds of the first fusillade of crimson pyrotechnics.
Thirdly, and finally, Carrie Lam is a turd.
Interesting tit-bit: Anius Ho had planned to attend the cancelled race in the company of (his friend?) Commissioner of Police Stephen Lo. Suddenly that explains so many things.
So, the people are now the “non-government sector”: we, the people, are dehumanised us from the outset.
Talking of words, “dialogue” is from the Greek dia-, two, and logos, speech / word / language, so implies two parties speaking. The word “communicate” comes from the Latin, literally meaning to make common.
Both sides have been speaking – rather loudly. But in order to make common, parties need to listen. That hasn’t happened on the pro-establishment side and, as to the protesters, we’ve been listening to the same shit for twenty years. What we need is new policies to listen to.
And – @Carrie’s Bung – Carrie Lam is a turd.
I have very little time for the rioters. In fact I have so little time, today I can’t be bothered knocking out my current gripe list. However, that they have been able to get the October 1 fireworks show cancelled is excellent news. In the many years I have lived here, I think I have seen three or four of the pyrotechnic events (on CNY, Handover Day, PRC Day, and New Year’s Eve), including one which was by accident when I ended up getting trapped down at Pier #3. The displays are beyond tedious. Toss the pathetic chorus of “aahh” sounds made by the viewing masses and within a few minutes you have one gweilo in a deeply disturbed state. Thankfully, on none of the occasions was I carrying a cake-cutting knife à la the laser-toting student leader at Baptist University.
Strange, I thought we already had a “platform for dialogue.” It’s called the Legislative Council. Oh, right, that’s been canceled too.
If Carrie Lam’s a turd, Junius Ho is an ambulatory urinal cake.
I also notice the SCMP speculating darkly about the train derailment being an “inside job”. That’s probably their implausible worst case scenario for the fireworks display.
Unimaginative bureaucratic civil servobots build a platform for dialogue between different sectors. (Bureaucrats love that word sector – everything has to be assigned a classification before they can understand it.) Real leaders just go out and talk with people.
And oh yes, if Carrie’s a turd, then Junius Ho is diarrhoea.
Dear Mrs. Lam,
Fuck your Platform for Dialogue.
Hold a free and fair election instead.
That’s what everybody else does.
You often comment on things that concern me not eg Lan Kwai Fong, Christine Loh etc.
But today, you are spot on.
Leaving aside what it says about the Commissioner of Police, Stephen Lo, personally, to assoiate with anybody so high profile as J Ho, and in respect of whom almost everybody has very strong views, usually loathing but if you have triad connections then liking, at the present time is yet another example of the cloth eared arrogance that is one of the root causes of the present situation.
Last night I was talking to a very conservative (small c) architect, who is actually sympathetic to the demonstrators, who commned adversely about the police and their thuggery (his word) and said that what had got everybody steamed up was from 21st July 21 in Yuen Long. For the Commssioner of Police to then be so arrogant, stupid, uncaring, lacking in political nous, judgement, discretion, to potetially publically (bad enough privately) associate with J Ho is truly shoocking, even by the woeful “standards” now applying.
I wws also given an explanation as to the cause of the pressure that has caused Ronny Tong to do a complete volte face. If true, he is not only stupid, and have few morals, but also spineless.
Amusing to see all the name calling: “Carrie Lam is a turd”; “If Carrie’s a turd, then Junius Ho is diarrhoea”; “If Carrie Lam’s a turd, Junius Ho is an ambulatory urinal cake”. They remind me of the insults we used to lob around my infant-school playground; as weapons, they were that lame they were verging on lamé. If people are going slag-off various senior figures, why don’t they go full Cantonese building site? My deceased father-in-law had a belter: “Even if he were dying, I wouldn’t let him eat the shit from underneath my foreskin.”
@dimuendo: For Ronny I’ve heard beijing had some dirt on him doing stuff Mao himself liked to partake in. Is that the same thing ? Never seen anything concrete about those accusations however.
From Tom Grundy at the top of the post: “Protesters sick of winning yet?”
But are they?
Leaving aside for a moment one’s own opinions or feelings about the Govt, the Police, the CCP, the protesters and the violence and trying to look objectively at what is happening, that does not appear to be the case. It seems almost universally accepted that, apart from the livelihood issues, the underlying motivation for the protests is the mainlandisation of the HK system. If this is really so then how is what the protesters doing going to stop or slow down that process? Given the known attitudes of the CCP, it seems to me that what the protesters are doing (even ignoring the vandalism committed by the more radical) is only likely to increase the CCP’s mistrust of the HK people and quicken the mainlandisation process, just the reverse of what the protesters are calling for. How is that a victory?
What can they really achieve by carrying on further?
@dinuendo: In a normal country, a politician who behaves as odiously as Junius Ho would be playing to a small, rabid, ideologically radioactive base, but who would these people even be in Hong Kong? The DAB grannies and granddads are mostly in it for the free stuff. The only logical conclusion is that he and his buddy Stephen Lo are performing for their masters in the Liaison Office and beyond, which means there’s a system that doesn’t just reward loyalty, it rewards batshit lunacy. So on one hand they’ve let Carrie Lam do her “everyone calm down and talk about it” act and on the other they’re encouraging their goons to troll the population. Talk about dysfunctional.
Hi Hemlock —
Looks like you got your wish re golf event cancellations. 😀
To C. Law —
I’ll cite a couple of Tweets yesterday by the New York Times’ Austin Ramzy:
“When I hear warnings that the Hong Kong protests might end up a failure, I think back to March, April and May, when the conventional wisdom, even among pandems, was that the extradition bill couldn’t be stopped, given the way the system is gamed.”
“Protesters understandably don’t want to declare victory now, because their movement has become about much more. But it’s worth remembering that what they’ve already achieved was once considered impossible.”
Was simply an allegation from said architect, although he claimed well known but I not heard before. As to Mao, yes, but young.
Ignoring any personal views or friendships he has (and it really says something of S Lo if he is friends with J Ho) the Commissioner of Police should be aware of his position and the implications of those with whom he is seen to associate, certainly at this time. The police have enough (justified) PR problems without being identified with J Ho.
@ reactor #4, yes, and you remind me of the expression that my late father used, “wouldn’t cross the road to piss in his mouth if his teeth were on fire”.
@Reactor #4 – yes, I know calling Junius Ho a shit is childish, but unfortunately: a) he is one; and b) that’s about all most of us can do about him at the moment. In a civilised society, he would have been prosecuted months ago for incitement to murder, and again more recently for complicity in violent thuggery, but when the top cop is your buddy you can get away with a lot of barbarism. However, set that against the offence of costing the Jockey Club a billion dollars by refusing to withdraw his horse, and you probably have some amusing conflicts of interest going on within the establishment.
It was actually a student journalist that was carrying the butter knife and arrested upon stop-and-search. Maybe try carrying an unloaded paintball gun without any pellets on you if you are thinking of Keith Fong.
The accelerated Mainlandisation is certainly not the desired result. For the sympathetic public in general, the burning resentment will likely at least continue until an independent inquiry is granted. The objective of the movement now is reform towards genuine autonomy as promised under the Basic Law for at least the 28 years remaining, or bust. Yes, a realistic assessment is that they are unlikely to get it, but you can’t blame them for feeling they are no longer prepared to live a lie. Given what has taken place, that Mainlandisation will take place anyway, absent any proper firewall (which currently stops at the legal system), since clearly policing and government have more or less completely gone over to being tools of the central government.
C Law, you said:
“It seems almost universally accepted that, apart from the livelihood issues, the underlying motivation for the protests is the mainlandisation of the HK system. If this is really so then how is what the protesters doing going to stop or slow down that process?”
What they are doing is slowing down the process. We have no extradition law. We have no national anthem law yet. The Lantau artificial island has been put to one side for now. All of these things will come back, I suspect, but they are being delayed, and as they will all make things worse for people who live here that’s something worthwhile.
” …the Commissioner of Police should be aware of his position and the implications of those with whom he is seen to associate, certainly at this time. The police have enough (justified) PR problems without being identified with J Ho.”
That was my point. Lo lives in an incentive structure where he’s more concerned with impressing the Liaison Office with displays of public fuckery than with what the public thinks of the police. The public can go hang, as far as these people are concerned. Which demonstrates how irrelevant the Lam administration is. She’s trying to hire a PR firm while having no control over the reputation-damaging behaviour of her own public officials.
YTSL and Rational Observer,
Given past successes, I don’t agree that the withdrawal of the extradition bill was impossible. An independent enquiry into the events still seems a possibility. So there was initial success but, realistically, whatever may be gained in obtaining “consultations” on political reform the devil will be in the detail as always and won’t slow the mainlandisation. So far as that is concerned events have only made the situation worse.
It doesn’t matter what people feel, the question remains: in practical terms what can now be achieved ? What can be gained by further action (and increasing violence) ?
Not that I like the implications of this analysis.
I’d love to see more pleb-related violence that is followed by a robust crackdown (Saturday October 5: several tens of seriously squished yellow hats). Importantly, shed-loads of money can be made out of such a situation. What are we in HK for? I say, piles of easy cash. To this end, if the ante can be upped, then the taps might be turned on.
If Carrie L is a turd then Reactor #fore(skin) is tissue stuck on the heel of a pair of Church’s
Forget all that dialogue and listening to the people crap, action speaks louder than words.
This week the Town Planning Board imposed further restriction on members of the community who have the temerity to object to changes to outline zoning plans. Note that these usually entail snatching away recreational and community facilities to flog off the sites to developers.
Now objectors have to scan in their ID card and provide their telephone number. This will effectively kill group petitions and grass root community participation as it is ‘ma fan’ and will have a chilling effect on any but the most committed.
No wonder even pro establishment district Councillors are steering clear of what are obviously fake forums.
Hi Hemlock –
I’ve been following your blog for years and always loved your pieces.
I am curious to see what your views on HK are now – do you think this is the end of HK as we know it?
“Any chance of cancelling some golf…?”
You Fat Lychee attack all things Chinese.
Everyone know golf ancient Han Chinese invention. Han farmer swung stick at yak turd and shout “Go far!” (English also invented by China).
The 4 remaining demands are (to a degree) reasonable. As to what is truly achievable, no one really knows, but to the extent that the Hong Kong government are insisting on leaving the police accountable to no one, a situation undesirable to any observer regardless of political convictions whether they realise it or not, they will continue to create tolerance for violent protests.
No rational observer would support escalation or even the present vandalism, but there are limits to what non-participants and even the peaceful participants can do to prevent people acting on their own initiative and limited only by their own discretion in a leaderless movement.
In what should be (non-)consolation, the Mainlandisation cannot be avoided in any case, unless the 5 demands are met. That is regardless of the cessation or continuance of further action, made clear by what has happened to Swire, and the various statements made by HK and central government officials on intended plans for the press and business.
At this point, we can only hope, however poor the odds seem, that the protesters somehow succeed. The alternative is wringing your hands and plotting your escape. Unfortunately I share your bleak outlook on the endgame.
Was this not what was going to happen anyways in 2047?
Pier 3. Says it all.
As much as I love reading this blog for a quick update on the latest protest related fuckwittery, my daily commute also keeps me appraised of the situation via the constant barrage of posters and graffiti on elevated walkways and footbridges. This morning was particularly enlightening, with the simple but effective, “Junius is a cunt”.
@ Ho Ma Fan, nah, Junius has neither the warmth or the depth.