Following the election massacre, the pro-Beijing DAB will reportedly keep its ejected District Council members on their previous (taxpayer-funded) stipends. The money is no problem – the party gets big contributions from pro-Beijing businesses, if not the Liaison Office directly.
This looks like the United Front is going to set up parallel District Council-type operations to continue serving their neighbourhood constituents (such as helping senior citizens and new Mainland immigrants with officialdom).
The aim may be to ‘maintain the grassroots support base’, but it would also be to marginalize the pro-democrats who will now occupy most DC seats. If they are serious about it, the Liaison Office would pressure government departments to prioritize contacts with the unofficial DAB community workers and neglect approaches from the newly elected opposition representatives. Childish – but classic United Front. And it would not be unprecedented: pan-dem Legislative Council members have complained for years about unequal treatment from bureaucrats.
Might Beijing officials even order senior government figures to ‘boycott’ pan-dem DC members and simply refuse to have contact with them? It would be perfectly in character, and they must be tempted. It would of course send a clear message to Hong Kong’s silent or non-silent pro-dem majority that no, peaceful means don’t work.
As an indication: although the District Council elections presented the government with (another) perfect opportunity to de-escalate, the tear-gassing resumed this weekend. Among the menaces to society being punished, an elderly ice-cream vendor.
For an insight into the inexplicable police tactics, an ex-cop says it’s because their procedures manuals give them no choice. The manuals say (roughly): if tear-gas and beatings don’t work, try them again (and again, repeatedly, for ever and ever). Only the senior management can change the manuals, and for some reason (stupidity? pressure from Beijing?) they don’t/haven’t/won’t. So, you see, counterproductive measures must continue because they have to.
At the very least, this raises the question of why, if they just implement set procedures without question, the police are paid at levels appropriate for employees who use discretion and brains. (This goes for most of the civil service.)
The highlight of my weekend: Hong Kong people’s revolutionary hero doing the dishes at my birthday party…