Unintended consequences

Among yesterday’s scenes from Hong Kong’s Time of Plague – people stripping shelves bare of hand-gel and even food. Do Carrie Lam’s aides brief her that this is happening, or is she oblivious to this unmistakable, age-old sign that maybe citizens’ confidence in your administration is not what it could be?

Atlantic is admirably quick off the mark with an article about how the Wuhan virus is bolstering (nurturing? deepening?) the pro-dem protest movement.

You wonder what Carrie did in her past life to deserve one near-fatal blow after another. First, the dismally handled extradition bill, intended to be quietly rushed through but ending up as a toxic-waste atom bomb exploding in her face. Then the unleashing of an out-of-control paramilitary protest-suppression police force amplifying the collapse of government legitimacy. And now a disease from the Motherland causing such debilitating symptoms among officials as denying reality, dithering, and then making partial U-turns when it’s too late.

(Owing to insufficient bandwidth, we’ll ignore the many self-inflicted minor wounds, like Carrie’s complicated relationship with face masks.)

What happens next? Is this not a great time to push an Article 23 national security law – maybe with a National Anthem (Compulsory Adoration) Ordinance to ease the way?

But wait! There’s more!

Another vignette from yesterday: residents outside a New Territories public hospital shouting at approaching Mainlanders that the facility is for ‘British dogs’ only. (The pestilence does not impair snark.)

Not only is the Wuhan virus pulling the Beijing-appointed Hong Kong government further down into the swamp of ignominy, it is undoing all that hard work officials put into bringing Hong Kong and the Mainland together through ‘integration’, Bay Area opportunities, the Mega-Bridge to Nowhere, the High-Speed-be-in-Wuhan-for-lunch-Rail Link, familiarization tours for schoolkids, and dozens of other initiatives to strengthen national pride and consciousness and lovey-dovey cross-border kinship.

Here’s the irony. All of these messes – the extradition bill fiasco, the degrading of the HK Police, the outbreak of a mystery bat-to-human disease, and the latter’s negative impact on cross-border relations – have their origins in Chinese Communist Party desire to maintain and tighten its control and instil harmony throughout its domain.  

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9 Responses to Unintended consequences

  1. Joe Blow says:

    I can’t wait for Hong Kong to become part of the happy Greater Bay Area family. As soon as that happens I’ll “hop on my bike” and emigrate to Shenzhen or Zhuhai. How about you?

  2. Reactor #4 says:

    As I write, the front page of the SCMP indicates that “pets could be at risk”.

    How good is that?

    We may see people hurling snot-bunged Shit-Sues from high-floor flats.

    Praise the Lord.

  3. Reactor #4 says:

    One more thing. There is a greater than 90% probability that the Rugby Sevens will be cancelled.

    Hip, hip, hooray.


    ditto (of the ditto).

  4. Knownot says:

    On Thursday afternoon, 9th July 2015, the Number 8 signal was hoisted. One should then leave work and go home safely, but on that occasion people reacted with a strange urgent anxiety – it was weird and out of proportion, and seemed even more so the next day, because it was a very minor typhoon.

    Hemlock wrote about it (and so did I).

    He wrote that it showed “how frazzled the community has been” following “a week of fear and doom”. I think it might also have been because, in an age of smartphones, emotions are enflamed by messages and tweets.

    Is any of this relevant to the responses to the Wuhan virus, both by people and by the Government? After all, during SARS there were no clearances of supermarket shelves; postal deliveries were not suspended; libraries were not closed.

  5. MarkLane says:


    During SARS, did China forcibly quaratine 50+ million people, a sizeable minority of whom came flooding into Hong Kong to spread their infection?

    This virus has already beaten SARS in terms of infection potential, and (so far at least) seems to be just as leathal as SARS.

    Is it then a wonder why people are freaking out?

  6. “And now a disease from the Motherland causing such debilitating symptoms among officials as denying reality, dithering, and then making partial U-turns when it’s too late.” I think all those symptoms have been blatantly evident for the past 7 months – this virus has just ampolified them.

    The decision to designate the new government housing blocks in Fanling as a quarantine centre, without consulting local residents or the District Council, was probably another example of Carrie trying to appear firm and decisive without having the slightest clue (or caring) how local people think and feel. Closing the postal service down a couple of days before everyone’s rates are due for payment (not everyone uses online payments) is another one.

    Mind you, it’s not only the government that doesn’t always think things through. Have those calling for total closure of the border considered how Hong Kong’s food supplies arrive here?

  7. PaperCuts says:

    @Reactor #4

    Could you imagine being a pet in HK? The horror!

    The individual living above me left her dog locked in her tiny unit for 5 days alone over CNY.

    It whimpered, it moaned, it yelped, it cried for 5 days. I’ve called the SPCA, the cops, the management numerous times in the past. Nothing.

    That’s how they roll here.

  8. Joe Blow says:

    This has got almost nothing to do with the WuFlu but I have an enormously interesting idea for HRH Carrie-Antoinette: announce to the HK plebs that you are going to simultaneously and magically change Ocean Park and the Hong Kong Golf Club (is that its name?) into massive housing projects that will house at least 500,000 people within 5 years.

    I am holding my breath right now.

  9. Mark Bradley says:

    “ Have those calling for total closure of the border considered how Hong Kong’s food supplies arrive here?”

    People are calling for the closure of the border to tourists not trucks hauling food and supplies.

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