During SARS, Hong Kong’s radio newsreaders would announce the previous day’s death toll – it might be three, or seven, or even double-digit numbers of people. During Covid-19, we have a daily count of rights, freedoms and independent institutions that have been struck down.
Yesterday, we had two (that leap out).
First, the Legislative Council (after pro-democrats had been removed) voted for pro-Beijing Starry Lee as chair of the house committee by 40-0. This clears the way to ram through the National Adoration (Compulsory Paroxysms of Patriotic Joy) Bill. It also makes the legislature redundant as a check on the executive.
A creepy and bizarre picture of LegCo security guards surrounding the chair prompts a rather elegant juxtaposition-meme, and a Badiucao pic.
Second, the government looks set to ban the annual June 4 vigil, by extending the bar on certain types of gathering of more than eight people to that date. Subtle! The community has a couple of weeks to dream up alternative ways of marking the occasion, perhaps ways that attract more people and are far harder to police – waving gifs of candles in shopping malls, say.
Other mortal blows to the old Hong Kong are of course in train – such as the prosecutions of 15 prominent pro-democrats, who were formally charged and bailed yesterday. The CCP, which is clearly behind the arrests, is also smearing Lee and others in a CCTV documentary for Mainland consumption.
Although just a drop in the ocean of politically-driven prosecutions, the imprisonment of the high-profile and moderate veteran like Martin Lee would be a major blow to whatever remains of the Hong Kong administration’s overseas image. Lee would (I suspect) relish martyrdom after all these years, and the CCP are too consumed with their psycho-paranoiac-Leninism to resist giving it to him.
It would also complete a classic, and brutish, United Front move: forcing the local bureaucrats and tycoons to defend the jailing of the 81-year-old Lee, who was a personal friend and (in some cases) mentor to their kids.
The China Law Blog piece entitled “Stick A Fork In It” grows in relevancy every day.
Your last paragraph brings to mind a documentary about Saddam Hussein. One of his favourite tactics, apparently, was not to execute people himself, but to single out people to quite literally pull the trigger for him – often at their own relatives – as a proof of loyalty.
Those whose children were mentored by Martin Lee can expect to be asked to denounce him in the most public and humiliating way possible, I anticipate.
The cold war and technological war between Hong Kong’s two largest trading partners China and the U.S has started in earnest.
So why now arrest octogenarian, Martin Lee who is only person (of the 15 arrested) most American lawmakers have ever heard of and on the eve of a Presidential election ?
Any hope that Hong Kong can keep its separate status, similar as it did in the Korean war, is soon to be lost when the American’s retaliate by enacting punitive measures incorporated into The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act.
Yep stick a fork in it !
For those of us who didn’t pop along to West Kowloon Magistracy the other day, what is the actual wording of the charge against the famous Fifteen ? Isn’t this “Court Reporting 101” ?
Law/Section/Particulars of Charge
It might be difficult for a 13 year-old, but surely at least some of the adult reporters could manage it.
I gather the fifteen have been charged jointly (or separately ?) with inciting, organising and/or participating in unlawful assemblies on four different dates late last year. Is this right ? How does the prosecution plan to prove they were acting “jointly” ?
Anyway, after the Fifteen have Pleaded Not Guilty in District Court in June, we will still have months to wait before the actual trial.
Meanwhile – it seems that over 6,000 people arrested late last year have neither been charged nor formally released.
Why the delay ? Is this due to indecision by the police or, more likely, the Dept of Justice ? Don’t they have enough staff ?
What steps has the D of J taken to ensure all cases are expeditiously heard ?
Ironic that a Mao-influenced and dialectical philosophy does not at all revise history but in fact further entrenches the mistakes of the fathers. China is heading for a collapse. If I was a Western government leader, I would certainly push to continually antagonise China, which would, I would think, further strain the paranoid handle on power exhibited by Xi and his stained ilk.
“Why the delay ?” Mostly incompetence and an unwillingness to make a decision I’d wager.
Fortunately we are all safe from the compulsory adoration law since the government will be focused on the retroactive arrest of Allen Lee. I’m sure he screwed up an oath somewhere along the line.
You can add RTHK to the list of fallen institutions.