HK Police perform ‘Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy’

HK Chinese University looks more like Hamburger Hill as the police are apparently consumed by some sort of obsessive-compulsive need to assert their authority over the campus at any cost (and last time I checked, still hadn’t).

Open any history book about a modern-era popular movement against the authorities in the Greater English-speaking world, and somewhere around page 200 or so, you will find the part where (to use the authors’ invariable phrase) the government starts ‘enrolling special constables’. And here we are. These books usually last about 300 pages.

While many idealistic types are disappointed that Western governments are not doing more, the last few days’ events in Hong Kong have attracted renewed overseas interest. From the Financial Times

Examples of police double standards when it comes to dealing with pro- and anti-government protesters are too numerous to count. Members of criminal triad groups who attack anti-government protesters have been dealt with incredibly leniently, while anyone who looks like they might be a demonstrator is at risk of being beaten unconscious.

The Independent

Anyone wanting to experience the sudden imposition of a police state and white terror, try a short break in Hong Kong.  

And, beyond mere commentary, a damning Korean television report (follow the links) featuring someone claiming to be a Hong Kong cop. (Among the claims: that senior police management let triads overrun Yuen Long MTR on July 21 in order to convince the Hong Kong public how much they need the police. So deranged, it must be true.)

The HK Police have become the story. Every pepper-spraying of a pregnant woman, every clubbing of a motionless arrestee lying on the pavement, every handcuffed schoolgirl further isolates and diminishes whatever passes for a Hong Kong government.

A small sign of establishment nervousness comes as 125 more-or-less prominent public figures sign a statement calling for the November 24 District Council elections to go ahead. (One, John Tsang, goes further and calls for an inquiry into the police.) They include moderate pan-democrats, but also former government officials, academics and business types (like landlord Allan Zeman) who at least straddle the bureaucrat-tycoon/shoe-shining/Beijing-friendly fraternity.

District Councils have no power, but the elections will represent a glorified public opinion poll (in which the pro-Beijing camp will probably do badly). Postponing them would be inflammatory. But the issue is conveniently bland and uncontroversial enough for anxious pro-establishment people to use as a signal – not least to Beijing – that they want to distance themselves from this wreck of an administration being dragged down by an out-of-control police force. Whether this is out of conscience or self-preservation I couldn’t possibly comment.

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16 Responses to HK Police perform ‘Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy’

  1. maxwell noodle says:

    Given Carrie Lam’s initially stated view months ago was that she should step down, what is now preventing her, in the face of this escalation, the Administration’s clear increasing impotence, and the influx of mainland thugs in or out of uniform? Unless our friends up north have threatened death to her or her family if she resigns, how can she not see that as a Hongkonger, she has no further role to play now or in the aftermath, and no option but to go and to go now, as a matter of personal integrity?

  2. dimuendo says:

    Theresa Cheng, our esteemed secretary for injustice, leaving is v welcome, but to lecture on dispute resolution is beyond parody. Plus who is going to authorize all the riot charges.?

    Without wishing to sound like chernobyl no. 4, I thought it was common to all cultures that you (including students) do not shit on your own doorstep.

  3. D3SH says:

    The FT editorial nails the problem:

    “Having lost popular legitimacy, the authorities have resorted instead to police rule. In the absence of any political resolution, the police find themselves, invidiously, on the front lines, expected to govern what has become an ungovernable city through force. Since they only have one set of tools, an inevitable cycle of escalation has set in. The city no longer has a law and order problem, but a rule of law problem.”

    Not sure the FT’s proposed solution, balancing the introduction of universal suffrage with increased national security measures, would ever be contemplated. But at least it’s an attempt at compromise.

  4. Stephen says:

    @maxwell noodle,
    Carrie Lam will go however I think Beijing are genuinely stumped by who/what next ? The HK Police will always be with us and whenever/however this ends they will reviled by large sections of society – no cooperation, liaison, witnesses etc. What brought this on ? A feeling of impotence in 2014 ? New northern management ? It’s beyond stupidity and totally self defeating.

  5. Cassowary says:

    @maxwell noodle: Possibly, fear of what her Beijing-appointed successor might do if she wasn’t around to cushion the blow. She might have convinced herself that if Hong Kong’s going to be oppressed, it’s better off if it comes from her. It is completely delusional but you did ask what might be going through her head.

  6. Reactor #4 says:

    The battle for the Chinese University campus relates to the road bridge that crosses the Tolo Highway. The “peaceful protesters” are using the structure to hurl debris onto the thoroughfare and vehicles below. Actually, I strongly suspect that if the police were not trying to stop this, many of those commenting would use it as evidence for some sort of complicity with the Triads etc. Fortunately, HK has its own Woodrow Wyatt to chew over the facts in a dispassionate manner.

  7. dimuendo says:

    Commissioner of Police to appoint special unit of special constables largely drawn fro. CSD riot squad to protect “key locations” around the city. One such is apparently C Lams “official residence”! Plus , what happens when there are riots in the prisons?

  8. Ho Ma Fan says:

    In the complete absence of anything resembling leadership coming from the, erm, leadership, perhaps someone with sufficient contacts would be kind enough to persuade the Hong Kong Observatory to introduce a system warning of inclement protests? Maybe a three level system of amber, red and, of course black for really serious petrol bombing? It would help commuters to decide whether or not they need to risk trying to get to work whilst avoiding being reprimanded by their boss for turning up late.

  9. Mun Dane says:

    Seems all that energy, time and expense put into the gluing down of bricks on the footpaths of Central over recent week nights and early mornings was a waste of time.

    Sort of a grad metaphor for something. Probably.

  10. PaperCuts says:

    I don’t see why Carrie Lam can’t just come out and say:

    “Organised crime, triads, gangsters, thugs and degenerates are in government up to its eyeballs and always have been. Crime runs the world and therefore the city. You people are wealth extraction units, nothing more. You’re NOT SUPPOSED TO GET UPPITY. Your labour, life crushing usurist perpetual bank loans, extortionist rent and tax contributions, among a thousand other traps help furnish the 1%. We work for the 1%…and are rewarded very nicely thank you very much by the way…so please calm down and get with the system or I can make Yuen Long look like a picnic. Please. They said they were going to take my toes.”

  11. Hong Kong Hibernian says:

    Parents and teachers alike are furious, so much so that even the pro-Beijing faction within the education sector has criticised the local non-government.

    A glorious political decision to show the world that those pesky black masks haven’t thrown us off track! Schools to open as usual, despite students and teachers working this week with tear gas literally detectable in the classrooms, despite the fact that school busses weren’t running, despite the fact that school lunches weren’t delivered in some areas, despite the fact that teachers and staff couldn’t make it to work on time if at all.

    Another section of the population lost: moderate law abiding parents who focus on the education and safety of their children.

  12. PaperCuts says:

    The EDB is literally as dumb as dogshit. But they always have been. That’s what you get in a city obsessed with education to the point of mania like HK is.

  13. Stanley Lieber says:

    The Lam administration should stop mollycoddling the besuited terrorists and their well-dressed female workmates who have been flooding out of their air-conditioned offices at lunchtime to occupy Pedder Street and the adjacent streets in Central.

    It’s time to start cracking some middle-class homeowners’ heads.

    It’s the only language they understand.

    That’ll get Hong Kong back on track right quick!

    (Can I have my Bauhinia medal and a seat on Exco now?)

  14. Unbie Leevable-Innit says:

    They want the district elections to go ahead to give them a bell-weather on next year’s Legco elections. They are so deluded they can’t see how it will go

  15. Gerald says:

    Matthew Cheung ‘not clear why people are so angry’. Best argument ever to justify having elected, rather than appointed, government ministers.

  16. Guest says:

    @PaperCuts (2:25 PM): that’s if Lam could be persuaded to not huddle in her bunker, fly overseas for some really important matter (like a monarch’s coronation), or enjoy herself at a party (she was at the HKIS annual dinner on Tuesday) while Hong Kong burns.

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