If you’re a police force that appears to have colluded with gangsters in violent attacks on members of the public – and you were bitter and angry about the widespread perception that you had – what could you do? For the Hong Kong Police, the obvious answer is arrest a journalist who uncovered significant evidence of the collusion on suspicion of a trivial and normally overlooked technicality. If anyone had any doubts about the cops being in cahoots with the thugs, they don’t now. It is also clearer than ever that the HKP are vindictive (let alone institutionally narcissistic and delusional about their own image).
RTHK producer Choi Yuk-ling allegedly applied for details of vehicle ownership (which is essentially public information) for a reason other than the vehicle/transport-specific ones specified on the Transport Dept’s website. (Details here.) Like many investigative journalists, she did this in the course of her work. In her case, making the documentary 7.21 – Who Owns the Truth? (English subtitles), which spells out the collusion and subsequent cover-up. If you haven’t seen it, the HK Police now direct your attention to it.
Inevitably, hundreds of commentators deplore the arrest as a threat to freedom of the press. This is like expressing shock and outrage, after witnessing a vicious tiger attack, that the creature had stripes. The HKP today is an arm of the CCP – of course it aims to curb freedom of the press.
But it’s not personal! The wrathful CCP can also wreak vengeance (or ‘snag’, per SCMP) on non-state-owned fintech giants just about to be listed in the biggest IPO in history – as Jack Ma’s Ant finds out. This is murky, but it’s possible to see parallels with the Choi arrest. Panic, over-reaction, complete blindness to reputation, Hong Kong officials strutting around pretending to be on a par with London and New York left looking like idiots.