National Day is over – now what?

As well as all the more overt and forceful signs that the Hong Kong Police are under Mainland direction, there’s the force’s absolute refusal to admit any kind of error or misjudgment.

Yesterday’s shooting of a teenage protester could, in theory, be an opportunity to show some leadership and at least acknowledge the possibility of a less stupid and belligerent approach to protests. Instead, Commissioner Lo digs his heels in and declares the shooting ‘legal and reasonable’.

No hint of any doubts about the de facto banning of marches, the closure of much of the transport system, the splitting of cops into small and outnumbered groups, the apparent mental-health problems of many frontline officers, the bizarre running-into-each-other-and-falling-over routine, the all-too obvious fact that the cops are creating far more violence than they are suppressing – or that, with the Extradition Bill long forgotten, they have become the primary object of popular anger.

Nor does whoever is in authority want to consider that the Hong Kong Police have managed to further reduce the local government’s legitimacy (which you wouldn’t have thought was possible – but they managed it). Or that the cops’ counterproductive tactics have elevated Hong Kong to one of Beijing’s biggest global image problems (again, no mean feat).

With the October 1 National Day behind us, will Beijing now get its act together and decide what it wants to do with Hong Kong?

The smart thing to do (as with the police) would be to change tone and indicate at least some willingness to address Hong Kong’s real problem: the collapse of public confidence in the very institution of local administration.

While you ponder how likely that is, enjoy the Hong Kong float from yesterday’s National Day parade in Beijing: an absurdly over-repulsive-looking ship ‘symbolizing how the city is constantly moving forward in development and progress’, manned by press-ganged artistes from the (government-funded) City Contemporary Dance Company. 

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15 Responses to National Day is over – now what?

  1. dazedandconfused says:

    You read about this kind of thing happening in governments that have never, well, had any government. They happen in places where there is simply no understanding of politics or governance, but more likely things like tribal affiliations or roaming packs of hooligans.

    I have sat down over drinks with some of the most reasonable and intelligent people I know and cannot understand Hong Kong’s / or China’s inability to grasp what it is doing to its best city. This would have been unimaginable. Well, it was unimaginable. Now it’s simply staggering to imagine that the end game here is complete destruction of the city. And it will have been done by the people tasked with leading it.

    How can Carrie Lam sit on her ass in Beijing laughing away and grinning like a doped up puppy? What hideous inhuman illogic is this? Is this real life? I’m staggered.

  2. Mun Dane says:

    I was talking with a couple of rather conservative Singaporeans earlier today, one whose brother or sister (I think, close family member anyway) is a police officer in Singapore. Both in the past couple of months have been pro the police and described the protesters as spoiled children, etc. Well, that view has developed into something new, images of police grinning when pepper spraying journalists, deliberately injuring arrested people and general lack of “discipline” had them changing their tone today. I was surprised by the sudden change in attitude in the couple of weeks since I last spoke with them

    I reckon once the organs of government lose the support of even conservative Singaporeans you are pretty well stuffed.

  3. Stephen says:

    @dazedandconfused

    “How can Carrie Lam sit on her ass in Beijing laughing away and grinning like a doped up puppy? What hideous inhuman illogic is this? … ”

    I was thinking the exact same thing – Where are her political skills? Where is her Adjutant, whispering in her ear, “things are not looking good Chief Executive so wipe that stupid grin off your face?”

    I don’t think Hong Kong will come back from this. But neither do I think Carrie Lam will have a long peaceful retirement in Cambridgeshire which, perhaps, is some karma.

  4. Cassowary says:

    @Mun Dane: Whereas I have been talking to a couple moderate Hong Kongers who are reluctant to pass judgment on the police for shooting a man point blank in the chest, because they don’t know the full story. (It was all I could do to keep from shouting “THAT’S WHY PEOPLE ARE PROTESTING, YOU NUMPTIES, THEY INSIST ON HAVING THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT WHILE KEEPING US IN THE DARK!”)

    Many of the pro-democracy leaning people I’ve talked to who are no fans of the police still believe the police brutality is a result of incompetence, lack of training, or stress, rather than deliberate policy. I think people have become inured to the violence. By the time someone gets killed, people’s capacity for shock will be so exhausted that they’ll both-sides every detail of the incident while losing sight of the bigger picture.

    Maybe Beijing’s “strategy”, insofar as you can call it one, is to let things get so shitty that people give up expecting any better.

  5. Knownot says:

    The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region’s float took part in the National Day Parade in Beijing today to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

    Themed “Hong Kong Down” the float was designed to look like a beached junk to symbolise how the city is constantly stable and progressively governed.

    Its hull and sails displayed Brand Hong Kong’s dying cockroach logo together with colourful flying bricks to show the city’s dynamism and connectivity as an alley (containing a yellow object) linking the country with the rest of the world.

    It also showcased five models of iconic structures in Hong Kong, including the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, the San Uk Ling Detention Centre, a tenement in Sham Shui Po, a pharmacy in Sheung Shui, and Prince Edward Station (Closed), to highlight the city’s developments in arts and culture, innovation and technology as well as infrastructure.

  6. PaperCuts says:

    Such a weird move to have Lam visit Beijing. Maybe that’s what HK dignitaries do every year, I dunno. But to abandon ship on a day expected to turn out pretty much like it turned out…to whisk her away for a Dim Sum lunch and sumptuous dinner, I’m sure, with other luminaries of wealth and privilege and have her basically sticking her fingers in her ears while Hong Kong burned and raged is Kooksville.

  7. It’s not only Carrie Lam who grins inappropriately – Starry Lee accompanies every vacuous pronouncement with an equally vacuous silly smile. If these people can’t manage intelligence or common sense, they could at least make an attempt at solemnity.

  8. dimuendo says:

    Do not want to be lumped in with Reactor #4, but while I have no time for many of the police antics, particularly some of their deliberate actions (and these are the guys in green so HKP rather than the civies who I take to be PAP) , I equally have no time for some of the actions of the more radical protestors. Throwing petrol bombs actually at police (see at least one of the seemingly many videos of the circumstances surrounding the shot youth), throwing acid, firebombing the MTR, increasing random violence if you happen to upset them, is not right, appropriate nor ultimately will it advance their cause.

    My fear is that a section of both the police and the more radical demonstrators are actually enjoying the violence.

    Somehow the escalation has to be stopped. We are now having calls of “blood for blood”.

    When even somebody like Priscilla Leung calls for movement by the governrment towards the demonstrators, then C Lam and Xi should listen. Equally the more formal, conventional, longstanding pro democracy and allied parties need to expressly dissociate themselves from, and condemn, the violence such as fire bombs etc.

    As Hemlock suggests, S Lo, the Commissioner, has to face reality. Not all the actions by his force are defensible. Certainly the shooter appers to have been rather gung ho in the lead up to the actual shooting. The best video I have seen is the NYT highlighted version, ; paywall accidentally avoided by somhow following through from the story on the Guardian .

    If not obvious, shooter should be suspended pending enquiry. Lo should also cvall in the officer who pepper sprayed Eddie Chu, when he and another officer were engaged in none violent conversation.

    One person has almost been killed. Unless there is a de-escaltion somebody will be killed. Judging from the actions of the pack on the attacked policeman, it may be a policeman or a demonstrator.

    Last night in Causeway Bay, where I live, was seriously unpleasant at times. Apparently C Bay was quite mild compared to some areas.

    A commission of enquiry (not headed by a single judge) has to be set up very soon as to the causes, consequences and actions within the disturbances, (not limited to but including the police) and C Lam must go. But replaced with whom?

  9. old git says:

    I myself do think Hong Kong will come back from this but minus Civil Service dogma that permits incumbents to decide not to decide.

    About 35 years ago, I was chatting with Ray Moore, a former Deacons partner and Jardine director at the time. Our subject was if Hong Kong had a future, because Ray Moore had arranged the re-domicile of Jardines to Bermuda. He was bullish on Hong Kong and said “We nearly lost Hong Kong in 1967.” There was shooting across the border and bombings in Hong Kong. His legal point about the move to Bermuda was that in context, no one really knew if the CCP would respect the law.

    Despite all that has happened in the past 3 months, we have our answer.

  10. Red Dragon says:

    Stephen.

    Cambridgeshire!? What the hell has Cambridgeshire done to deserve Carrie Lam?

    I thought Surrey was going to have to put up with her.

  11. Crosses says:

    A couple of thoughts:

    First. Logic dictates that in every group of 100 policemen, it can’t be possible that ALL 100 of them are dirty. So have there been any reports or signs at all of any cops just quitting the force? The ability to sleep well at night starts to get more and more valuable. It’s weird that we haven’t heard any of them just throwing their badges away.

    Second, I also noticed that whole ‘falling over and bumping into each other’ shtick. Looks to me that the lack of coordination may be from the different types of training they had. Makes it more obvious that the PAP or PLA are indeed mixed in with these barbarians.

  12. Copperdammerung says:

    I should think the government will not do anything at all until both the police and the protestors have killed someone at the very least.

    I watched an incident last night at Heng Fa Chuen on Stand News, where the police had been called to a housing estate and turned up in a group of around 10-12 with half gear (shields, batons, helmet). Residents took offence and gathered in large numbers shouting at the cops (and their mothers) to leave. Eventually another 20 in full riot gear have to show up.

    And after the cops enter the building and the riot cops drive off, all the residents surround the building demand to know who called the triad cops and harangue the security guards (with the original cops right inside, and despite the security guard repeatedly shushing them cos the cops are right next door) to the point where you know for a fact these two guards are never calling the cops again unless they’re 100% sure there’s a headless body or the like.

    At this point it occurred to me that this is more or less the Hong Kong Police Force’s future for the next decade or three: every call out to a high rise will require at least 30 people, 20 in full gear, and perhaps another 60 on standby just in case the first 30 get surrounded.

    Everything they do will filmed and questioned by a massive, angry crowd who will also be shouting “triads/filth/dogs/school dropouts fuck off” at them when they’re not busy asking arsey questions.

    No one will do anything they say without seeing the cop’s warrant card and getting their number and checking it on line. Everyone will legal experts on stop and search, sus law and so forth after a couple of years. And woe betide the copper that isn’t on the list of numbers that Anonymous doxxed.

    And those will be the good days. The bad days will be when you get acid and breezeblocks dropped on you from the high rises.

    Suddenly that cushy pension doesn’t really seem worth 30 years of daily aggro, especially for the jobsworths that make up much of the force.

  13. reductio says:

    Yes, there certainly are people who get off on violence. However, as someone who has taken part in riot drills, I can tell you that stress levels go through the roof, perspective narrows and things can get out of hand quickly. And that’s knowing that the “demonstrators” are actually colleagues. Training, timely intel and leadership are the three key elements in keeping responses to as an objective level as possible. However, even with that, when a copper experiences someone lobbing liquid fire and acid at them, I think it would take a very experienced and mature person not to react very aggressively. Frankly, I’m surprised only one person has been shot so far.

  14. Hong Kong Hibernian says:

    Hong Kong’s pitiful contribution to the big Xi-worship event up in polluted Peking is more evidence that successful designers (and leading PR firms) refuse to touch the rotting vegetable that is the Curry Lamb ‘administration’.

    For a glimpse of mainland-trained thugs, one need only view the use of the human shield in the video found here:

    https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/3788250

  15. Jason says:

    @Copperdammerung/Reactor #4
    The glorious HKPF achieved to destroy every rest of credibility and respect they still hold after their “handling” of the Umbrella movement. They became “outlaws” for a large section of Hong Kong’s citizens after their insane level of violence. They fully deserve some of the swear
    you mention: I think nobody disputes seriously the Police-Triad cooperation and the inclusion of a few hundreds of Mainland Police officers (a clear violation of the “sacred” Basic Law). If there won’t be drastic changes, they will never again have a stake in Hong Kong’s society.

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