Who needs the public’s trust when you can jail them?

An HKFP op-ed asks how the Hong Kong government can regain public trust if it doesn’t admit its own role in provoking and escalating the 2019 protests (let alone 20 years of incompetence beforehand). The key issue is accountability… 

…for authorities to beat the people with our legal system while giving themselves a free pass for their role in the 2019 chaos is utterly outrageous. Every prosecution, every conviction and every jailing of protesters reminds us that the government itself has not been brought to account.

The Basic Law by design is vague about how the people may hold the Hong Kong government to account. It allows the authorities to decide if and when they will be held to account and with what consequences. This is not a system that encourages responsible government…

Neither more affordable housing nor social welfare will fix this problem. The government cannot buy respect or legitimacy. Either the central government must begin holding our local government to account, or the central government must give us the tools to do it ourselves.

Representative government is obviously not going to happen. Beijing could conceivably force Carrie or others to make self-criticisms one day – weirder things have happened when the CCP tosses its sycophants aside. But otherwise, the regime will forget about winning public trust and simply rely on force and fear in order to rule.

Jerome Cohen spells this out in a (lengthy) piece for Academia Sinica on how Hong Kong’s criminal justice system has become an ‘instrument of fear’.

And Chow Hang-tung (recently denied bail) writes on being conditioned by the system – prison in her case, the NatSec regime for those of us outside.

The Germans have a word for it: ‘Gleichschaltung’, referring to the ‘harmonization’ of society through creeping Nazification in the 1930s – not unlike United Front work in a Leninist takeover. English Wikipedia has a worthy entry here, but for a more vivid picture try the German site’s version using Google translate if necessary. (And, if you never have, read Victor Klemperer).

And right on cue…

HKFP on the disappearance of books on the Beijing massacre from Hong Kong public libraries. Social workers will have to take oaths. And, from Australia’s Saturday Paper, Hong Kong film censorship sets in…

It’s a quiet erosion of rights, of expectations. Things are being lost very quickly. The right to protest. The right to run for office if you aren’t pro-Beijing. The freedom to speak or display words calling for democracy. The opportunity to make – or see – films that don’t toe the party line.

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5 Responses to Who needs the public’s trust when you can jail them?

  1. YTSL says:

    “It’s a quiet erosion of rights, of expectations. Things are being lost very quickly.”

    The right/ability to remember comes to mind. Something else that’s struck me for some time: By not going outside of Hong Kong for a time, our memories of what it’s like to be in freer, more “normal” parts of the world are fading too. And this all the more so for those who don’t watch (serious) films from other parts of the world, read books, etc.

  2. Toph says:

    “That is, we in Hong Kong have neither the benefits of the mainland (bureaucratic accountability) nor the benefits of the HKSAR (political accountability).”

    Prof. Burns, now retired, still pretzels himself into false equivalence. Sure, provincial leaders in the Mainland are sacked (at minimum) when social unrest breaks out, and then they are replaced with experienced skull crackers, and off to the reeducation camps everyone goes. I doubt many here would see that kind of accountability as a benefit.

  3. Penny says:

    There is nothing this government could do that would make me trust it one iota – end of!

  4. Mark Bradley says:

    “Prof. Burns, now retired, still pretzels himself into false equivalence. Sure, provincial leaders in the Mainland are sacked (at minimum) when social unrest breaks out, and then they are replaced with experienced skull crackers, and off to the reeducation camps everyone goes. I doubt many here would see that kind of accountability as a benefit.”

    @Toph Indeed and provincial leaders that were sacked end up getting reinstated in a different province. I’m afraid the good professor is a total hack

  5. Ho Ma Fan says:

    Mr Hamlett, via an HKFP opinion piece, recently suggested that the anti-triad squad didn’t have a lot to do these days. Seems he was onto something.

    https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/law-and-crime/article/3156850/hong-kong-police-officers-linked-anti-triad-squad

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