The day Jan Morris came to Quarry Bay

Some of the weekend horrors were on the banal side – but I guess we’re supposed to become numbed to these things over time. Others were worrying. One tweet on Saturday covered four: a pensioner arrested; reporters with balloons harassed by police; an office lady with a clothes line arrested; and a radio host arrested.

The senior citizen is aunty Alexandra Wong – waver of giant union flag at protests and recent detainee in Shenzhen. Would the CCP really feel a need to arrest a grandma to scare the rest of us? But of course. Some UK lawmakers nominate her for a Nobel Prize (in a move sure to anger China, etc).

The balloon-carrying reporters had been at a rally in support of the HK12. Relatives are receiving obviously pre-written/coerced letters from the 12.  

The clerk was jailed for five months for possession of offensive weapons after using a clothes hanger to craft a device to hurl tear-gas canisters back at the police – who it seems can dish it out, but can’t take it.

The radio host and his wife has been picked up and put in chains on yet another lame-sounding money-laundering thing after helping raise funds for Hong Kong kids who have left for Taiwan – oh, and for ‘aiding secession’. 

What all four of these have in common is the clear aim to deter and intimidate. The other weekend NatSec horrors were all about vindictiveness: pan-dem district council members are banned from displaying banners mentioning the HK12, and others are denied standard government funds for printing New Year scrolls displaying the slogan ‘Life of Peace’ (because officials couldn’t find any mentioning the HK12). On a less petty note, two district council members were arrested for something to do with election expenses (for elections that were cancelled). 

Pan-dems slaughtered the pro-Beijing parties in last year’s district elections amid a high voter turnout. The CCP has not forgotten, and will not get over it until it has squeezed, ground and arrested the winning council members out of existence.

For better-known dissidents, the CCP’s obsessive vengeance will create something more like martyrdom – Joshua Wong and Agnes Chow appear in court this morning, expecting prison sentences. This will be big news overseas.

One person will be spared the sight of any more of these incessant totalitarian absurdities: travel writer Jan Morris, who has died, aged 94. 

I was allowed a brief ‘hello’ with her when I was a junior flunky at a publisher (not hers) in Quarry Bay. (Not often a VIP came to the grimy district of printing companies, textbook producers, the SCMP and similar riff-raff. My desk had a view of a sprawling shanty town, now Kornhill.) Her visit caused a stir in the office mainly because she was famous, but also because she was a former male army officer and now a late-middle-aged lady in a tweed jacket and skirt – which was more of a novelty then than it might be now. 

She had come to rummage through our archives while doing research for Hong Kong: Epilogue to an Empire. A not-too nostalgic colonial-themed book with, among other things, a very clever structure – alternate chapters of chronological history and related contemporary insight. Perhaps average by her standards, but streets ahead of most writing on Hong Kong.

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8 Responses to The day Jan Morris came to Quarry Bay

  1. Urban says:

    I remember reading Jan Morris’s book many years ago. I found the book to be excellent but I was slightly disconcerted because the title of the edition I read was “Xianggang” not “Hong Kong”. Ahead of its time, I fear.

  2. Hong Kong Hibernian says:

    I just received my 2021 calendar from the local DAB office, and 21st July was missing.

    A relief really. I was dreading the raid on my home to confiscate anything with 721 written or printed on it.

  3. Big Al says:

    Re the election expenses scandal – if this is true (and the expenses they have claimed do seem unreasonably high) then the councilors deserve to be prosecuted. However, like Hemlock, I think this is a convenient start to Phase II of the CCP’s de-democratisation (autocratisation?) of Hong Kong. Having got rid of all the pan-dems in LegCo in Phase I, now it’s the turn of the pan-dems in DCs. So, what’s the betting that there will be none of them left in office by this time next year?

  4. where's my jet plane says:

    what’s the betting that there will be none of them left in office by this time next year?

    My guess is by July 1st, making Handover Day, Takeover Day.

  5. Reactor #3.999999999999999 says:

    Not at all good for the narrative “you lot” seem desperately keen to portray:

    “HKUST male student convicted of assault on mainland doctoral student is convicted: immediate imprisonment for 9.5 months”

    https://hk.news.yahoo.com/%E7%A7%91%E5%A4%A7%E7%94%B7%E5%AD%B8%E7%94%9F%E8%A5%B2%E6%93%8A%E5%85%A7%E5%9C%B0%E5%8D%9A%E5%A3%AB%E7%94%9F%E7%BD%AA%E6%88%90-%E5%8D%B3%E6%99%82%E7%9B%A3%E7%A6%819%E5%80%8B%E5%8D%8A%E6%9C%88-082637530.html

    Ha. Ha. Ha.

  6. Pope Innocent says:

    Corruption prosecutions have always been Pooh’s favourite tactic for getting rid of the competition. It’s easy, scratch any politician and the corruption bursts forth like pus from a lanced boil. The trick is to be the scratcher, not the scratched …

  7. Adieumiss says:

    Why am I not surprised in reading Jan Morris’s obituary that the famed travel writer (and misogynistic? Biased? Homophobic? Transphobic?) Rebecca West couldn’t hold herself back from being somewhat of a bitch stating that she couldn’t understand why the transition into being a woman since “he had all the pleasures he wanted” as a man? West was a piece of work. Wholly insecure, constantly obsessed with the idea of how a true woman and a true man should act and feel in a marriage (though she could not keep one herself being a prodigious cheater). We are all a funny lot.

  8. Red Dragon says:

    Arsehole #4.

    Not for the first time do I find myself entirely baffled by your maunderings.

    Have you been at the crystal meth again?

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