The government announces senior appointments and removals. Matthew Cheung is released from his misery (where will he retire?). Unusually for a Security Secretary, John Lee moves up to Chief Secretary. Police Commissioner (for 19 months) Tang Ping-keung becomes Security Secretary. Deputy Commissioner Siu Chak-yee is the new police chief. (The release omits the last two’s ‘Chris’ and ‘Raymond’.)
John Lee defends his suitability for the Chief Secretary role…
“It is important that there is a senior officer to give an objective view, consider it from other angles, taking into consideration other interests and concerns, so as to ensure all the concerns and matters are addressed, and I consider that as my main function,”
This is a partial, as well as rambling, job description for the Chief Executive’s deputy. Lee has presumably been put into the number-two position not merely to coordinate but to ensure that every government department becomes a NatSec-compliant department. We can imagine he and Chris Tang being co-opted by the CCP long ago; years of grooming as trusted locals now come to fruition after Beijing assumes direct rule under the NatSec Regime.
The chatter is that Carrie will remain as captive puppet figurehead for another term (including implementation of BL Article 23 unfinished business).
For the bigger context, don’t miss this Quartz article on the first anniversary of the NatSec Law, describing the transformation in governance represented by rising security budgets, arrests, sentencing, censorship and other controls…
A new security structure now sits atop existing institutions, in many cases directly altering the institutions’ original functions and imposing a new priority upon them: upholding national security, as defined by Beijing.
…once you have a bureaucracy, the bureaucracy has to do things to justify its own existence,” said Ho-fung Hung, professor of political economy at Johns Hopkins University. The national security complex, he added, will target an endless list of enemies…
We could add that, in the punitive top-down PRC system, lower bureaucratic levels would rather overreact than try to be subtle. The recent banning of a Taiwanese documentary film suggests local officials so petrified when faced with NatSec enforcement duties that they use a sledgehammer on everything to be safe.
The NatSec ‘Law’ is not merely a law or a new focus on law and order. It is essentially the Mainlandization of Hong Kong’s government. The Mainland-staffed NatSec Office is above the law. It has extensions and annexes in the police, prosecutions, judiciary and now Chief Executive’s office, and is in effect a parallel government – Party commissars behind the scenes ensuring discipline and obedience throughout the subservient and more visible civil/state administrative structure (plus of course rubber-stamp legislature).
For masochists wanting exhaustive detail, Human Rights Watch releases a Hong Kong report: Beijing Dismantles a Free Society. And HKFP compiles a near-endless list of steps in the decline of press freedom in the city. (It can now add Stand News’ measures, like suspending opinion pieces, to protect writers and staff. I think they are also concerned about readers’ contributions – as perhaps we should all be.)
The crude manner in which Matthew Cheung was tossed aside serves two purposes, installing the security regime while sending a strong message to everyone in government that they can and will be binned when no longer considered useful. Pledges of loyalty and subservience provide no insurance of tenure.
No doubt Big Lychee has been monitored and cached for years by the security state. Nevertheless, I wonder whether Hemlock would consider purging all commenters’ past contributions, or offer commenters the opportunity to do so, as a minimal step to lower one’s profile in the new security environment.
Where will he retire? Doesn’t Matthew Cheung and his wife have 8-10 properties in HK to choose from for their retirement? It wouldn’t be surprising if they had one in Zhuhai/Zhongshan and some in the UK as well.
A minor correction: the “Taiwan Equals Love” documentary wasn’t banned per se but certain cuts were required by the censors for screening, prompting the scheduled screening venue (Broadway Cinematheque) to cancel the screening on the grounds that it won’t show censored films. Regarding what the censors wanted cut, K Tse has a thread on Twitter with suggestions post viewing the film (and directions to how one can view the film online should one wishes to do so):
The Alibaba Yawn can only improve in quality minus those painful opinion pieces. Where do they find those nobodies?
With Apple Daily out of the way and Stand News falling on its own sword, they’ve all but run out of Chinese-language targets. That leaves the English-language: HKFP and this blog (which I suspect is as widely read). On the one hand, keeping HKFP and Hemock around so they can rattle on about freedom-of-press blah-blah may do their image some good. On the other, a fable comes to mind: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Scorpion_and_the_Frog
I don’t know what I will do if Hemlock stopped blogging.
It’s an excellent read and most of the comments are really good too, proven by chaps like YTSL. (YTSL’s blog is pretty good too)
Here’s hoping English language content will overlooked for now like Portuguese has been in Macau for a while though I hear that is starting to change too.
@Mark Bradley — Thanks for the kind words re my blog. It’s one of those strange things about blogging about Hong Kong these days where, on the one hand, one worries about attracting the wrong attention even while also wondering if one has attracted any attention/readers at all! (This especially since, unlike Hemlock’s blog, mine doesn’t get many comments on it at all!)
Before the lights go black, here is a friendly reminder: BOYCOTT LAN KWAI FONG, especially the California Tower of “patriotic” greed meister Zeman.
One would think that the curry lamb would have gone off by now
Whenever I used to ring my (now sadly deceased) mum up in the UK we would talk about the weather, local gossip and then, invariably, she would whisper, almost inaudibly, “And don’t forget, there’s always money if you need a ticket home.’ I would, equally invariably, reply with “Oh, mum, don’t be silly, this is Hong Kong,” in the same tone of voice when “with it” teenagers talk down to their “square” parents (like, lol). But my mum had lived through interesting times: the second world war, the descent of the iron curtain, the Soviet invasion of Hungary and Czechoslovakia, the Cultural Revolution, and Year Zero in Cambodia.
You got it right, mum.