Carrie Lam shock announcement: ‘I have nothing to announce’

It was 100% predictable that Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam would have nothing new or constructive to say at her press conference after yesterday’s Mayhem Monday.

If we want to examine her words carefully, we might detect an extra brittleness-cum-desperation in her tone following her meeting with Xi Jinping last week. She stated that it was ‘wishful thinking’ that the government would yield to protesters’ demands, adding that the protesters are ‘enemies of the people’ – a phrase with a dark history. (By some definitions, Carrie’s own words are an act of violence.)  

But essentially she just reminded us that Hong Kong does not have a functioning leadership: she is not empowered to make any decisions (even if she had a clue how to), and the supreme authority in Beijing is similarly unable – for whatever reason – to provide any direction.

So all that’s left is to order the police to continue tear-gassing the city until social harmony returns.

The authorities seem to be grasping at the hope that continued police repression of protests, other gatherings and displays of opposition will eventually wear everyone down. You might think that, after five months, this approach is yet to yield much in the way of success. But Hong Kong bureaucrats – and probably the cops in particular – are well-known for focusing on the trees rather than the forest. To them, a decline in the number of mega-marches (following MTR closures, the mask ban, thousands of arrests) suggests they are on the right track. Another three or four months should do it!

In their own ‘wishful thinking’, they fail to see that resistance is organic, decentralized, flexible, ‘like water’. And widespread. At noon yesterday, white-collar types filled the streets and walkways outside my office in Central chanting ‘murderer’ and ‘rapist’ at riot police (who, after giving great consideration to the many and varied options at their disposal, went for more tear gas). Tomorrow it will other people, in different places, doing something else (complete with an equally original and insightful police response).

It looks like we will be waiting months for Beijing to do something.

In the meantime, don’t forget the Hong Kong ‘business community’ – the local tycoon caste and the multinationals. While residents naturally rejoice at the lack of tourists, the owners of the malls and hotels are looking at months (at least) of suffering. Landlords must also worry that expatriate senior executives with delicate wives and precious kiddies in their rented luxury apartments might start moving offshore.

These local and overseas business folk are accustomed to having a government in Hong Kong that does everything for them – yet it is now actively undermining their profits and net worth. And they cannot speak out, for fear of upsetting Beijing. It will be interesting to see at what point, especially if the stock and property markets seriously drop, the pain is such that they openly squeal.

Some more for anyone who feels insufficiently depressed…

A night of vandalism in Tin Shui Wai

…it was targeted and surprisingly controlled. It’s about Beijing’s and HKG’s political failure. In a place with the social trust and development HK has, only a catastrophic meltdown in leadership can cause scenes like this.

Why violence can only get worse

Is there a way back? In theory, yes. In practice, probably not.

…It appears more likely that Beijing will follow the course outlined following the recent Fourth Plenum leadership meeting: greater control, the implementation of vague “national security laws,” and perhaps even martial law – almost certainly enforced by Hong Kong’s police bolstered by mainlanders, rather than by the Chinese army. It’s unlikely that this death will be the last.

And (from polling results pre-dating this horror) the latest figures on public trust in the HK Police.

On a brighter note: Bette Midler chimes in.

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20 Responses to Carrie Lam shock announcement: ‘I have nothing to announce’

  1. Reactor #4 says:

    I am much taken by the little three-brick Stonehenge monuments the “peaceful protesters” now erect at their road blocks. The kids putting them up really are an inspiration. What a lovely touch.

    Actually, it can’t be too long before the PSB officers, and quite possibly the PLA, are let loose. Unfortunately they will put an end to such creativity. So sad, but there you go.

  2. donkeynuts says:

    Definitely some cum-desperation in her voice. If that could be addressed the lass might actually show some swagger.

  3. Din Gao says:

    “So all that’s left is to order the police to continue tear-gassing the city until social harmony returns.”

    The Shenzen Tear Gas & Pepper Spray Company is busy working on a secret ingredient which will sedate and pacify protesters who will go home, sleep fitfully, halucinate and wake up with an overwhelming feeling of love for the HK Government, the HK Police, the Motherland and the CCP.

  4. PaperCuts says:

    Yeah, great speech. “Wishful thinking” hey?

    I know if I was one of the young protesters hearing that I’d add a little extra rage and malice to my activities the next time I’m out roaming around.

    I read somewhere that when engineering social change sometimes you have to make the people stampede before you can teach them how to graze with docility in the new pen.

    So maybe that’s what political mastermind Carrie Lam and her army of top advisers are shooting for.

  5. Mun Dane says:

    Are cracks, however so small, beginning to appear in the Gov’t facade? Anyone else seen the statement from John Tsang and others calling for restraint by the police? It’s going to be ignored of course.

  6. Curious that Carrie referred to the “so-called political demands” – what is so-called about them? While some of the public may feel uneasy about the amnesty proposal, at least two of the demands (an impartial public inquiry and Carrie’s stepping down) would enjoy support from 3/4 of the population.

  7. bagesty says:

    1.5 days into more-or-less continuous workday chaos and it’s really not clear who is ‘winning’. Is there sufficient momentum to fill a whole working week? Maybe too early to tell. Unless the plod shoot someone again.

  8. Cassowary says:

    @ Mun Dane: Do you mean Mr. Pringles John Tsang? He’s not in the government anymore, he can say what he wants. He wouldn’t be the first official to experience a sudden outbreak of sense upon retirement. The Liberal Party has been politely telling Carrie Lam to go shove it where the sun does not shine for weeks now, but this probably just means they’re on the outs with Beijing. Carrie Lam is an irrelevant sock puppet. She has neither the capacity to listen to nor ignore anyone. Until Beijing chooses to extract its head from its ass, Hong Kong will continue going to hell. And they probably figure that’s the least bad option for the moment.

  9. Mun Dane says:

    Cassowary, yes, one and the same, him of the mustache. He still has some, well, what ever it is that passes for gravitas in this town. Wonder which of the Beijing factions put him up to it though.

  10. Reactor #4 says:

    Excellent. The petrol-bomb tossing tossers up at Chinese University have just accidentally set their campus grounds on fire. We are now well into dry season and a moderate Northeaster is blowin’. Karma or what. If I were the cops I’d “block” the access roads to the university so the fire trucks can’t get in – burn the whole fucking lot down.

  11. Guest says:

    “Another three or four months should do it!”

    So you mean Christmas and Chinese New Year will be ruined? Shucks.

  12. Casual Observer says:

    Nury Vittachi is posting some bizarre stuff on Facebook. Today he uploaded a video lamenting the “renovation” of his local Starbucks and describing it as a “direct attack on free speech” (all while CUHK is under siege). Presumably he is angling for a role in some kind of “I love Hong Kong” relaunch campaign or may even be after a coveted Bauhinia medal?

  13. Mary Melville says:

    Just when you think all is lost and nothing will ever be the same again, the DAB DC election pamphlet arrives with all the usual foto ops with district Nobodies and the inevitable claim to projects that the local dogsbody had little or no influence on.
    In TST Central (E20) local residents note that our representative is claiming that the lift that connects TST MTR Exit A to Kowloon Park and is a great boon to the elderly, disabled and families with kids in push chairs, is due to her ‘strive’. The way local residents remember it, the MTR was shamed into providing basic and long overdue services and forced to install at least one lift at each station. When the TST plan was gazetted TST Residents Concern Group noted that the lift, already approved by Yau Tsim Mong DC, would only connect the concourse with street level. A petition was mounted and MTR, notorious for avoiding any improvements that are not paid for by others, was compelled to add another floor to provide barrier free access to the park.
    The other ‘achievement’ lauded is the lift at Hong Tat Path. This is an addition to an existing staircase and in fact one of the projects under the “Universal Accessibility” programme, ‘In response to public requests, the Government launched in August 2012 a new policy to expand the programme to retrofit barrier-free access facilities at public walkways”. In fact a number of lifts were installed on the footbridge link between TST East, PolyU and Hung Hom Station. Some are currently protest hot spots.
    So no thanks again to our representative.
    Moreover neither facility is located in E20, Kowloon Park is TST West and TST East was bundled in with far off Wylie Road four years ago in order to accommodate an ‘independent’ candidate who is ‘friendly’ with DAB. No doubt both facilities feature in other candidates list of ‘achievements’.
    Meanwhile the one lift that would have served not only E20 residents but also the thousands of visitors to the Science and History Museums, at the Granville Road footbridge, where the escalator is almost permanently out of order, has not materialized.
    According to the authorities this is due to the presence of underground cables etc. However no alternative has been proposed and our candidate does not mention this project, nor a solution to the escalator issue.
    Some group should set up a Debunking Page where each district can expose the fake claims to fame.

  14. The Battle of the Ants says:

    @Private Beach

    The good ship “Half-arsed Government Response” sailed sometime before September. As I read it, the 3/4 of the population will settle for nothing less than all 5 now.

    The public inquiry with teeth and an ostensible dismantling of the HKPF is now the number one demand, and frankly this place will stay ungovernable until it happens.

    Carrie stepping down is a no brainer, but without democratic reform, it’s also completely meaningless, so they aren’t going to let go of the democratic reform.

    Given those last two are non negotiable, coupled with the government’s idiotic delaying tactics (6 months of doing nothing at all with two counts of doing the absolute bare minimum to be taken into consideration), their suspension of the rule of law using ERO and the number of arrests — 4000+, the amnesty & dropping the riot charge are at this point an inalienable part of the package, however uneasy the upper middle class feels about it, because most of the population has a sense of fairplay along the lines of: “we had to riot: it was the only way to make you listen, so that’s on you”.

    And at present, as far as the populace are concerned police are mad dogs not to be trusted, and the rioters are plucky and hugely brave young lads and lasses doing what us older folk can’t. Even setting fire to a guy won’t given their chromium shine a lasting patina, and when you’re opponent is tear gassing old ladies and four-month-old babies, shooting kids, beating up pregnant women, raping people in custody, trying to knock them down with motorcycles, and generally setting fire to places with their new dodgy fire hazard tear gas from Taobao… well it’s no contest.

  15. A Poor Man says:

    Perhaps the refusal to close schools yesterday and today will be the inflection point when the upper class fence sitters join the fight. According to my wife, the mother’s chat group for my daughter’s school is on fire with rage from all of the tai tais and see lais who think it is unhealthy/dangerous/stupid to send their girls to school this morning. And many of these kids are the ones the Education Secretary said it should be okay for them to go to school because they are dropped off by private cars.

    Another thing – Anybody know what the government’s plan to do about the environmental and public health disaster the po po are creating? The active “irritant” in tear gas (which is actually quite toxic, thought to cause miscarriages, etc.) is not water soluble and so a heavy rain won’t do much to clean the residue that blankets so much of the city these days. Even if it did, it would just wash it into the ocean…. My advice is to not touch anything on the streets and take your shoes off outside your front door.

  16. Cassowary says:

    @Ants: Most of the people I know over 50 are anti-protest. They are no fans of the government or of Beijing but they cannot stomach the destruction, the danger to health and safety, the disruption to the economy. The broader stakes of what China will do to our civil liberties and autonomy do not concern them. They were never concerned with democracy before and aren’t going to start now. Sure they don’t like the police brutality, but they just want things to go back to normal, and imagine that they will if the protesters stopped provoking the cops. My guess is that people who think this way make up 35% of the population.

    Beijing is probably hoping this number will increase as Hong Kong falls into recession and people start losing their jobs. This is almost certainly wishful thinking. They’ve been wrong about everything else.

  17. @Reactor #4 – with attitudes that nasty, you must be angling for an invitation to join Carrie Lam’s ExCo.

  18. The Battle of the Ants says:

    @Cassowary

    You might be right, but I’d put money on it being lower and the police’s actions are not recruiting anyone to the government side.

    However, the numbers don’t actually matter on my point, because the views of the over-50 anti-protest demographic as to what they reckon is a good deal to stop the protesting are — by definition — totally irrelevant, because they aren’t the protestors.

    I also suspect this week the CPC has just decided to get dirty and kill some roosters to frighten the monkeys, using the dying days of Carrie Lam’s administration as a huge carpet to sweep it all under, with Carrie Lam et al as the patsies for the blowback. The CPC has got it wrong again and will end up with a huge barrel of extremely angry monkeys, as the monkeys have pluralistic aspirations, uncensored social media and know almost everyone else feels the same.

  19. Crosses says:

    @The Battle of the Ants That line about the teargas from taobao killed me. Not literally, but you get what I mean.

  20. dimuendo says:

    Cassowary and Ants

    To be fair nobody has been indisputably by the police. Even the lad who died was not clearly mixed up then in the riots and seems to have died by misadventure in the car park.
    Of the two shot. The first deliberately ifcunthinkingly at risk,no real sympathy. The one this week, in my view clear assault but I can see some arguments to the contrary.
    As I have posted before, the burning of the man unforgiveable.
    The protestors violence is getting nastier. Throwing petrol bombs at people is serious shit. Throwing bricks st people is really bad. 40 plus years,ago I was at a football match when my next door but two neighbour was hit by a half brick. He was and remained a mess.
    If I was Carrie Lam and wanting to actually be proactive I would shut down the internet and mobile communications in HK.
    So each protestor is suddenly isolated

    As Susan medic quoted in the SCMP apparently said, what going on now has nothing to do with democracy. Part of democracy is listening to the others. Nobody is doing that, especially our total lack of government.
    Sorry for typos etc..Tiny print.

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