Chief Executive Carrie Lam describes the anti-Covid lockdown in Jordan – which 98% of armchair experts agree was chaotic and pointless – as a success. She says her officials might do it again, though on a smaller scale – limited to just a street or a few adjoining buildings. She has omniscient power and knows for certain that future suspected clusters or outbreaks will be less extensive than in Jordan.
But – just in case we think she is going soft – she adds that the government might impose several such lockdowns at the same time in different places. And to keep everyone on their toes, there will be no leaks or other announcements, so the operations will be ‘raid/ambush-style’, to use her own inimitably crap choice of wording.
And voila! At an intersection in deepest Yau Ma Tei, the cops suddenly descend and roll out the expandable barriers to seal off several buildings, while plain-clothes nurses with nets and spears fan out into alleyways, where they in wait to to pounce on passers-by.
Not being a public-health expert, I can’t say for sure whether this lockdown approach makes sense (most doubt it). The problem is that, even if Carrie and her officials merely act competently – let alone dazzlingly – the aura of stupidity and malice is so thick that we will only perceive another mess.
Are the quasi-military tactics and language a conscious choice by forces that wish to acclimatize citizens to life in a police state? Or have top officials so thoroughly absorbed Beijing’s paranoid hatred of Hongkongers that testing elderly slum residents for Covid and clubbing MTR passengers are all part of the same thing? Either way, the government seems compelled to alienate the public through its contemptuous style – a need to assert crude dominance – even while the community has by global standards done a better-than-average job of fighting the virus.
Which reminds me – what’s happened to that PR agency Carrie hired?
Some mid-week links…
The SCMP reports on Hong Kong’s latest exciting demographic figures. One minute there’s not enough land, the next minute there aren’t enough people.
Christopher DeWolf at ZolimaCityMag explains how bureaucrats forgot – and the community quickly discovered – the Bishop Hill reservoir, which looks like some Byzantine emperor’s stables.
From Sebastian Veg: Music in the Umbrella Movement – on the role played by music in Hong Kong’s protests, complete with tons of links to the songs and other material.
And SMH looks at Xi Jinping’s ‘doublespeak masterclass’ to the Davos World Economic Forum bore-fest.