Time for the terrorism scare

As usual before a big exciting event – in this case the quasi-election no-one much cares about – the HK Police find a scary cache of weapons, including airguns, pellets and axes. The public are invited to assume the materiel might be connected to some sort of planned terrorist attack related to the snore-inducing poll. 

As with the free-transport gimmick, this will hardly encourage people to vote. Why go near polling stations if lunatic extremists with BB guns are plotting to target them? But it adds to the ambience of crisis, ever-present threats and lurking evildoers, and presumably justifies a massive police presence and overtime bill on Sunday.

Just in case you’re still not put off, the election also has a dress code.

The exercise will be so dull (nearly all candidates are pro-government while most opposition politicians are in jail) that overseas media find it interesting, at least a bit. France 24 is the latest with a report.

Many of the opposition figures in jail have not been found guilty of anything, yet have been denied bail since February. The Court of Final Appeal has decided that a near-automatic presumption against the granting of bail is OK, even if defendants are not charged under the National Security Law. Discussion and link to CFA ruling here.

After monitoring the Tong Ying-kit trial, the Clooney Foundation for Justice’s Trial Watch issues a report on how the NatSec Law is used to ‘supercharge’ cases (brief summary here). Tong’s trial also gets a mention in the UK government’s latest report on Hong Kong – denounced as interference blah blah by local and Beijing officials, who interpret the timing as another plot to undermine the ‘election’ no-one even cares about.

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16 Responses to Time for the terrorism scare

  1. Chinese Netizen says:

    How convenient. Almost as if on schedule the Popo NatSec AntiTerror Squad cracks another big case. On cue.
    Oh if only the Anti Triad Task Force (is there even still such a thing?) were as effective.

  2. Mark Bradley says:

    God damn I have new found respect for George Clooney due to the foundation he founded with his wife. Absolutely ballsy to criticise a HK showtrial + have it come from
    a former judge in another common law jurisdiction. Well done.

  3. Low Profile says:

    “Hong Kong’s electoral mechanism is politically neutral,” says Electoral Affairs Commissioner Barnabas Fung, in justifying the instruction to election workers not to wear yellow face masks. In that case, shouldn’t they be told to avoid blue masks as well?

  4. Goatboy says:

    KPMG to offer all staff who vote an extra day’s leave. Not sure how you prove you’ve voted, though….

  5. A Poor Man says:

    Goatboy – I guess most eligible people wouldn’t lie to get an extra day of leave. I certainly wouldn’t.

  6. Extra Pollidays says:

    @Goatboy
    One can only hope you have to bring your ballot paper in to work to show them.

  7. Pope Innocent says:

    Alienating the soft air crowd is a bit if an own goal. Many of them are the sort of right-wing pro-police sociopaths desperately needed to boost voter turnout.

  8. MT says:

    “Many of them are the sort of right-wing pro-police sociopaths desperately needed to boost voter turnout.”

    Not to mention the dwindling police recruitment numbers.

  9. Stanley Lieber says:

    @MT

    You make an excellent point about dwindling police recruitment numbers. Unfortunately, history teaches us that, under authoritarian rule, depraved people at all levels of society develop an enthusiasm for oppressing their fellow citizens and gravitate towards positions of power, including the police.

  10. Low Profile says:

    @Goatboy – I don’t think KPMG have thought this one out. It is illegal to take a photo in the polling station, so you couldn’t prove it that way. It’s also illegal to remove a ballot paper from the polling station, and in any case that would prevent it being counted. I suppose their staff could vote in pairs, each one vouching for the other having done so; even then, there is nothing to stop the apparent voter from spoiling their ballot paper. I don’t think this is really a measure to increase turnout, more a gesture by which KPMG hopes to suck up to the NatSec regime. After all, there are many public bodies which need to be audited – not to mention all those juicy consultancy projects – so they don’t want to get on the wrong side of the government.

  11. Northern Menace says:

    A “terrorism scare” will make a good excuse why the election turnout is so low.

  12. Costume Joulery says:

    @Pope Innocent
    Also hard to believe police claims given that I doubt any portable air gun can reach the 2,000 joules they purport.

    For reference that’s 150 joules more than the standard NATO issue 5.56mm assault rifle round, and 1,200 joules more than “the world’s most powerful production air rifle” the Airforce Texan .457 (which puts out about the same energy as a souped up +P .45 ACP round).

    Par for the course I suppose: the cops are not exactly renowned for their numerical skills (especially when it comes to estimating the numbers of people on protest marches and the street prices of drugs).

  13. Red Dragon says:

    KPMG are filth.

    Always have been, always will be.

    Fucking accountants.

  14. donkey says:

    Costume Joulery said what I was going to say. Having been shot by several air soft guns in my recent youth, I can certifiably tell you that there is no way that these guns were a threat to anyone except maybe the thin-skinned or easily bruised.

    Do people who make a point to dramatise these events even think about the rational thought that the audience finds endemic in their population?

  15. tranoire says:

    @Costume Joulery
    Despite the police penchant for lying under oath and their multitude of other sins, in the case of the air guns it’s surprisingly possible that they were being factually correct:
    https://www.survivalairguns.com/products/aea-zeus-72-cal-pcp-big-bore-air-rifle

    Yes, that is an airgun that is more powerful than a NATO rifle. Yes, it’s approximately as powerful as an AK47. And yes, that is completely crazy…

    It looks like one of the ones the police had on the table as well.

  16. Costume Joulery says:

    @tranoire
    Well damn, I stand corrected!

    However I think we can still agree that the cops’ story is still bullshit — that haul says “obsessive hobbyist took things to an illegal extreme” way more than it says “terrorist plot”.

    First there’s the logistical problems that such a beast brings:

    You get three “good” shots before you have to refill it with a huge heavy pressurised air tank (which is good for about 4-5 refills) or a hard core compressor that needs plugging in somewhere and 6-7 minutes to refill the rifle.

    So it’s still not exactly the most practical platform for terrorism, because whilst it’s amazing for an air rifle, it’s basically a three shots then run away job. This normally means you want to be far away, but you still have to be fairly close to hit things (it’s a big round — almost 50% wider than a .50 cal which has 14000-20000 joules to send it on its way and keep it accurate) — most shots on youtube seem to be around about 100m (the standard US 5.56mm battlesight zero is set to 300m).

    Then there’s pricing: a cheapo asian-made copy AK is much cheaper than the AEA @ US$1200: if you want to arm a terrorist plot, AKs are still the way to go.

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