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 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.