A little reminder of what could have been

More HK47 pre-sentencing mitigation, including endorsements from former government officials Anthony Cheung and Law Chi-kwong. Both had once been members of the Democratic Party. Hard to believe in these all-patriots/jailed opposition days that Beijing once allowed the local administration to dabble in co-opting pan-dems. 

SCMP headline for the story: ‘Ex-Democratic Party chair seeks leniency over plan to topple Hong Kong government’.

HKFP op-ed on the HK Education Bureau’s obsession with the volume when kids – including in special needs schools – sing the national anthem…

…complaints about the volume of the singing seem ill-advised. Different halls have different acoustics. Primary school kids are not opera singers and a common reaction to uncertainty about the tune or the words is to drop the volume. As we cannot switch to an easier song we will probably have to put up with this.

Anyway students will survive a few extra singing lessons. Whether the March of the Volunteers can stand this sort of treatment is another matter. Somewhere around the 30th repetition it will cease to embody the “courage and indomitable fighting spirit of the Chinese nation” and come to embody only the Education Bureau’s enthusiasm for repetitive and boring patriotic performances… by other people. Do you think school inspectors start the week by singing the national anthem together?

For graphics/demographics fans, a vivid chart showing Hong Kong’s population divided into one-year age groups, showing the fall in fertility rates and increase in emigration among younger people. In terms simply of visual effect, it looks like around half the population aged under 20 are missing. Median age in the city is 47.

Nice photo of the UK’s first China-born Member of Parliament at her new workplace.

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A moan from Joann

The ‘Inflatable Wonders’ exhibition takes a nasty turn as Armenian artist Joann weighs in (Standard story here)…

The team behind a Hong Kong art installation mocked by some online users has said it will press ahead with the exhibition despite the artist who inspired the inflatable works saying she wanted the “very ugly” pieces to be removed.

Armenian artist Joann … on Saturday said the “Inflatable Wonders” exhibition was “very ugly”, “not well proportionated” and looked “like an inflatable graveyard”.

“They also did not send me anything for approval, before the exhibition [started],” she told local media. “I don’t like that they launched it without showing the works to me…”

…Joann had told local media that if she had seen the works, she would have helped to make them “more appealing because these ugly lights are making it even worse”.

“I don’t like my name on this ugly exhibition,” she said. “The concept is mine. So I would love it to be [stopped].”

Central Venue Management, which won a government tender in 2016 to organize such events in the location, contradicts her account, saying she had been happy with the arrangements. So – innocent artist mistreated by commercial enterprise in cahoots with bureaucrats, right? But the SCMP story concludes…

Joann is known for her collaborations with luxury brands such as Gucci, Versace, Marc Jacobs, Valentino and BMW.

We all have to eat. We are all prostitutes. But if you hire yourself out to tacky clients with lots of cash to throw around, maybe don’t complain too much about how it looks to everyone else. (Some more of her work – sort of Christo-meets-people-who-put-knitting-on-railings.)

Mitigation as self-criticism continues in the HK47 case, with Joshua Wong and others. I guess after the verdict has been delivered and the next step is sentencing, there’s no point in stating the obvious like ‘they were just trying to win an election’. 

The NatSec Police promise to continue looking for threats…

“Soft confrontation” behaviors have been deterred by the two important national security laws in Hong Kong, but they have gone underground and are waiting for the right moment to resurface, said Andrew Kan Kai-yan, deputy police commissioner for national security.

Kan said that confrontations were deterred by the Beijing-drafted National Security Law and the domestically enacted Safeguarding National Security Ordinance, which was legislated under Article 23 of the Basic Law.

“Street violence and mass demonstrations have nearly vanished, but national security risks will not disappear so easily. We currently face three major national security threats – American and Western intervention, soft confrontation and local terrorism,” Kan said.

…people engaging in soft confrontation will still flirt with the line – using fake news or misinformation to confuse the public, infiltrate their daily lives and engage in subtle confrontation,” Kan warned.

“They will spread their ideology subtly, and once they find the right time, they will start inciting people to stir up trouble.”

Does ‘soft’ or ‘subtle’ mean ‘legal’? What are some examples of it, or of Western ‘intervention’, or ‘local terrorism’? Otherwise, the public have no idea what the NatSec Police are actually referring to. (Surprised no-one has declared people spending money outside Hong Kong to be a form of ‘soft resistance’)

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Originally white icons recreated in white

More on the ‘Inflatable Wonders’ at Central waterfront… 

The team behind a Hong Kong art installation of inflatables that was mocked online for one of the exhibit’s resemblance to gravestones has defended its decisions on how to display the works.

…some internet users have joked that the white Stonehenge installation look like gravestones, while others took potshots at the green-lit Pyramids of Giza display, saying they resembled police tents used at crime scenes.

David Rule, managing director of Central Venue Management that organised the exhibition, called the comments “rather short-sighted”.

“I think that the artist’s intention was to create known icons from around the world and they were originally designed in white, so we recreated them in white.”

I don’t think I could put it more underwhelmingly.

Some weekend reading (much probably paywalled)…

Reuters on the impact of Beijing’s threatened death penalty for Taiwan ‘separatists’…

Wen-Ti Sung, a fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Global China Hub, said the guidelines would force foreign companies to “either move their operations out entirely to keep Taiwanese talent or they stop hiring Taiwanese talent.”

That would mean that “even fewer Taiwanese will be working or living in China, thereby making Beijing’s attempts to win over their hearts and minds even harder,” Sung said.

China Media Project on another policy contradiction – Beijing’s attempts to stir nationalism while eliminating extreme xenophobia online…

In what Chinese state media portrayed as a full-scale effort to grapple with the problem of violent xenophobia, several platforms issued statements last week condemning the “extreme nationalist” comments users had left under news stories about the Suzhou attack. They included Weibo, Tencent, Phoenix Media, Baidu, and others. But this moment of supposed reflection ignored the deeper roots of extreme nationalism in the public discourse of the Chinese party-state, which for years has nurtured a sense of nationalist outrage over the imagined slights of foreign countries, including Japan in the United States, and has turned the blind eye to extreme nationalist sentiment online. 

Foreign Policy reviews At the Edge of Empire: A Family’s Reckoning With China, by Edward Wong…

Wong presents the People’s Republic of China as the successor to the Qing empire and frames many of the leading controversies about China today as those of imperial periphery. These controversies include the genocide in Xinjiang, the occupation of Tibet, the imposition of authoritarianism on Hong Kong, and Beijing’s threats to take Taiwan by force.

…Modern scholarship in China presents the Manchu rulers as following in the footsteps of previous conquering barbarians, who soon assimilated with the majority Han and thus became “Chinese,” leaving little mark on the civilization they adopted.

But Wong presents the Manchus’ impact as substantial, even definitive, in creating China as we know it today. He outlines how the Manchus expanded China’s borders larger than ever before, establishing various forms of imperial oversight over vast swaths of territory from Manchuria in the north to the Central Asian Uyghur heartland in China’s far west to Tibet in the far southwest. “The Qing conquests were the culmination of a centuries-old pattern of history in the Asian heartland: cycles of invasion, subjugation, and assimilation that defined what many people call China,” Wong writes.

I recently watched the whole 76-part Qing extravaganza Empresses in the Palace (not in one four-days-and-nights binge-sitting). Mostly concubines’ ritualisitc bowing and scraping, interspersed with occasional horrific sadism and violence, plus a mention of donkey skin as medicine, which boosted sales when first broadcast. It’s all on YouTube – if you want.

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Your tax dollars at work

How the charming Regina Ip we know and love today overcame (it says here) her antisocial personality in the 1970s. (Note that she had already been recruited to the civil service at the time.)

A 70-year-old man jailed for playing Glory to Hong Kong faces another six charges of ‘performing a musical instrument without a permit’…

Li was sentenced to 30 days in prison last October for unlicensed performance and fundraising after playing the protest anthem Glory to Hong Kong in public, with Magistrate Amy Chan saying that his offences amounted to “soft resistance”.

Between September 27 and October 4, Li allegedly played the erhu, a traditional Chinese two-stringed instrument, in public without lawful authority or excuse and without a permit issued by the Commissioner of Police.

On September 27, he played in pedestrian subways in Kwun Tong and Kwai Chung. On September 30, he played on a footbridge outside Fanling MTR station, a subway outside Tai Po Hui station, and outside Yuen Long station.

He played at the pedestrian subway in Kwun Tong again on October 4.

How does a magistrate know what ‘soft resistance’ is, when no-one else can define it? And, leaving aside the apparent injustice of it all and the reputational damage to Hong Kong – is this a good use of taxpayers’ money?

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Mega-events never cease

Tasked with creating mega-buzz events to show how Hong Kong is back to normal, civil servants use their great creative powers and come up with Inflatable Wonders – blow-up historic landmarks on Central waterfront. Photos here to deflate your expectations, complete with pointy Stonehenge megaliths. Could be worth checking out the day after a huge typhoon hits.

Global Times picks up on the Security Secretary’s denunciation of the HKJA…

The infamous Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) recently elected its new executive committee. The new committee, unsurprisingly similar to the association’s previous leadership, is mainly composed of journalists from foreign media outlets and freelancers, making it more like a group representing foreign journalists in Hong Kong.

Indeed, the HKJA, with its spotty history of colluding with separatist politicians and instigating riots in Hong Kong, is by no means a professional organization representing the Hong Kong media. It instead serves as a base for anti-China separatist forces to disrupt Hong Kong, and a malignant tumor that harms the city’s safety and stability, said analysts. 

The piece goes on to name office-holders and their anti-China stances, with reference to ‘so-called “freelancers”’, ‘black hands’, the National Endowment for Democracy, ‘color revolutions’, Jimmy Lai, and some history…

The HKJA was established in 1968 by Jack and Margaret Spackman. Over the years, the number of association members has been fewer than 10 percent of the local media industry, with quite a few being non-media personnel. It has never been an independent, professional media organization, but “a weird mix of dragons and fishes,” commented observers reached by the Global Times.

Criticism in state media suggests that the ‘unprofessional, unwelcome’ Association’s days are numbered.

Talking of evil foreign media smearing Hong Kong, Reuters has more on the departures of non-permanent CFA judges…

Six senior commercial lawyers with over a century’s combined experience said the resignations exacerbated long-standing concerns about Hong Kong’s future as a legal centre.

They noted firms drafting commercial contracts, joint ventures, or deciding where to arbitrate complex cases, are now increasingly opting the likes of Singapore, Dubai or Delaware in the U.S., rather than Hong Kong, in contractual jurisdiction clauses, because they are seen as more neutral.

“Sumption and Collins leaving is devastating for Hong Kong, in terms of the CFA’s powers as a commercial appellate court,” a commercial lawyer with three decades experience told Reuters, declining to be identified given the sensitivity of the matter.

…The debate over the robustness of Hong Kong’s rule of law could also exacerbate difficulties in recruiting new judges to Hong Kong courts, lawyers say.

Of the city’s 211 designated judicial posts, only 163 are currently filled according to judiciary figures. Average wait times were 171 days for civil cases in the High Court and 111 days for the District Court in March 2024, both up from 2019.

The staffing crunch has been severe enough for the judiciary to now recruit private lawyers as deputy judges for short stints of up to several months, according to a government report, noting the number of such external deputy judges had almost doubled from 23 in 2018 to 45 in 2022.

“The recent criticism is likely to have a reputational impact and make it even more difficult to replenish judges from the private sector,” said a fourth commercial lawyer with over 40 years’ experience, referring to Sumption’s remarks.

After the HKJA is dispatched, how long before Reuters, Bloomberg, the WSJ and FT come under greater struggle-session scrutiny from Beijing’s supporters and newspapers?

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Some links from the holiday weekend

Handover Day video from Chris Patten. Not mincing his words.

A 6,600-word written message from CE John Lee here.  Merciful HKFP summary.

A holiday concert by Denise Ho disrupted by the police. A dentist gets taken away for questioning.

HKFP op-ed asks why Security Secretary Chris Tang has such a thing about the HK Journalists Association. (There isn’t really a clear answer. Maybe he was bitten by one when he was a child. Maybe he thinks the media should all be controlled by the Security Bureau.)…

Tang has resoundingly condemned the association and all its works on several occasions, questioning who it represents, who it gets its money from and whether it should be invited to press conferences on relevant matters. He has accused it of “infiltrating schools” and defending people who swore at policewomen…

…a day ahead of elections for new HKJA leadership, and Tang rose to the occasion with: “Looking at [the list of candidates], it looks more like a foreign journalist association to me. Most of them are journalists from foreign media, some are freelancers, some are not even journalists and their organisations have engaged in political activities.”

…two members of the executive put in their resignations between the end of nominations and the counting of the votes.

Statement of mitigation by Gordon Ng (scroll down for English version), one of the HK47…

I believe that the holding of fair and regular elections provides the best counter balance against a power potentially becoming tyrannical.

It is for these reasons that I support the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong, as I believe their cause of striving for democracy a noble one, and also a sensible one for the continued development of this city.

Bloomberg on the resignation of non-permanent CFA judges…

The unprecedented number of departures over such a short period of time — including three announced this month — adds to worries among foreign companies over the future of the rule of law in Hong Kong. With the court likely to decide on a number of key security law cases over the next year, scrutiny is set to increase on the seven remaining foreign judges — and Hong Kong’s status as a global financial hub that provides better protection for companies than across the border in the mainland.

For investors, the worry is that the government’s preoccupation with national security could increasingly spill over into commercial interests. Alphabet Inc.’s YouTube blocked videos of a Hong Kong protest song in the city last month after a local court approved an injunction order to ban the song, generating concerns that the city is creeping toward mainland-style censorship.

Members of the business community are increasingly cautious about speaking out on anything deemed political, even while privately expressing concerns about the departure of overseas judges and judicial independence. Although business disputes typically don’t touch on national security, the fear is that it will become harder to separate money and politics.

… [Thomas Kellogg, executive director of the Georgetown Center for Asian Law said] “Over time, I’m just not sure whether the Hong Kong government and Beijing will be willing to keep its hands off of other cases — including business and commercial cases — that affect Beijing’s interests.”

The SCMP on reactions to CE John Lee’s declarations of economic recovery…

A government source said tourism would be a priority for Lee among ongoing efforts to revive the economy.

“What boosting tourism can accomplish is more visible, and it can translate to GDP growth more easily and create more job opportunities,” the insider told the Post.

……But [a] former researcher at the government’s now-defunct Central Policy Unit questioned banking on tourism for a boost.

She said while more than 65 million visitors arrived in 2018, inbound tourism contributed only 3.6 per cent of added value to that year’s GDP.

It also created an array of problems, including threatening the survival of small shops frequented by locals when retail chains popular with mainland visitors began moving into some neighbourhoods as rents surged.

Hong Kong is importing workers because of a shortage of manpower. What is the point of creating more jobs – especially low-paid ones associated with mass-tourism? Maybe it’s because officials see visits as a way to counteract the negative publicity caused by Covid and NatSec excesses…

The source said that promoting tourism would also help improve the world’s perception of Hong Kong as visitors experienced the city for themselves.

“They will realise that Hong Kong is safer, more vibrant and liberal than some Western media have portrayed it to be. You won’t be arrested on the street for criticising the government,” the official said.

Meanwhile, people are arrested for Facebook posts or wearing a ‘seditious’ T-shirt. 

Later in the article, no fewer than four people – a European business leader, an academic, a former government minister and a current all-patriots lawmaker – call in various ways for less NatSec rhetoric.

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‘Seditious clothing’ warning to celebrate handover anniversary

We don’t hear so much now about post-Covid Hong Kong being ‘back to normal’. Maybe it’s just the passage of time making ‘normal’ normal, or maybe someone thought things were actually still too weird. The holiday weekend will see 4,000 cops on the streets, and…

…insiders warned that anyone seen wearing seditious clothing in public and drawing attention could face arrest.

“Anyone wearing such attire in public will be monitored or stopped and searched, with officers immediately notifying the command centre at police headquarters,” one source said.

He said such behaviour could constitute the offence of engaging in seditious acts under the city’s domestic national security law, which is punishable by up to seven years in prison.

Earlier this month, a 27-year-old man became the first person charged under the law for allegedly wearing seditious clothing in public.

An interview with barrister Paul Harris, who left Hong Kong two years ago after being told by the police that what he wrote in a book and on Twitter could be seditious. In the book he said that people opposed the extradition bill in 2019 because they thought Chinese trials wouldn’t be fair, which the cops said incited hostility towards Beijing. In the Tweet, he said he would cease Tweeting because Hong Kong had become a police state, which (can’t make this stuff up) was also possibly seditious.

His departure meant he had to stop representing two of the HK47.

Some follow-up on the school inspectors’ complaints about kids not singing the national anthem loudly enough…

Hong Kong education authorities on Wednesday hit back at claims officials had gone too far by calling for a special needs school to improve its national security classes.

Social media users earlier slammed the Education Bureau for urging a school for students with moderate mental disabilities to ensure more teachers were better equipped to instruct pupils on national security topics.

The bureau said it “deeply regretted” that some residents believed it had gone too far and felt authorities were “unreasonable to require students with special educational needs to learn the constitution, the Basic Law and national security education”.

…The bureau defended its stance on Wednesday, saying “March of the Volunteers” had “a distinctive rhythm, a high-pitched melody, majestic force and embodies the courage and indomitable fighting spirit of the Chinese nation”.

“Schools have a responsibility to let students understand the etiquette and attitude required when performing the national anthem, so as to cultivate students’ national identity and respect for the country,” it said.

Today’s question from Twitter…

How long will the Chinese authorities tolerate Queen’s Road Central, Prince Edward MTR station or Queen Mary Hospital in Hong Kong?

Interesting replies from tankies and patriots, or at least wumao and bots. Worth noting that the Chinese versions of Hong Kong’s British place names are often straightforward transliterations with little obvious ‘colonial’ meaning. Taxi drivers would hate any change, and the Post Office would have major problems – especially in the absence of post/ZIP codes (which they once looked into before deciding they could live without it).

Some weekend reading, mostly on Taiwan…

China announces attention-grabbing – if largely symbolic – new punishments for Taiwan ‘splittists’…

State news agency Xinhua said on Friday Beijing had released a notice about punishing “‘Taiwan independence’ diehards for splitting the country and inciting secession”.

It said the notice specified the death penalty for “ringleaders” of independence efforts who “cause particularly serious harm to the state and the people”.

A comment from Cheng-Wei Lai…

China has extradition agreements with 50 countries … in Thailand and Vietnam, Taiwan companies have a lot of factories there. In case the Chinese Embassy requests the extradition of the prisoner, then there is a real possibility that the Taiwanese will be arrested.

…The second thing is that China’s definition of “Taiwan independence activist” does not specify that one must be a Taiwanese, but can be of any nationality. For example, if you are a French-speaking foreigner, you may be arrested in China, or you may be asked for judicial extradition by China when you are in an African country. This creates a lot of risks. Moreover, Chinese people holding US passports may be arrested for “Taiwan independence speech” when they return home to visit their relatives.

…As a Chinese blogger said, this bill will become the arrangement for how to punish Taiwan independence activists after the Taiwan war. Why would such a legislative action be necessary? One of the possibilities is that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has shown that China has a very good chance of winning an attack on Taiwan in its war games. That is why they are confident that they can win this war, and that is why they need to enact legislation to criminalize the pro-independence elements in Taiwan.

Taipei Times op-ed looks at a low-key gathering of Western countries’ officials in the Taiwanese capital last week at around the same time Beijing announced the death penalty for hard-core Taiwan ‘splittists’…

…77 People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) aircraft were flown into Taiwan’s air defense identification zones (ADIZ) in just 48 hours, a high enough number to indicate the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was peeved about something and wanted it known.

…The new amendments coming out of Beijing apply to all nationalities and anyone from anywhere in the globe can be tried in China in absentia … And just in case the assembled diplomats in Taipei did not get the message, Xinhua noted that among other things, “advocating the nation’s entry into international organizations whose memberships are limited to sovereign states, engaging in official exchanges and military contacts abroad and conspiring to create “two Chinas,” or “one China, one Taiwan,” in the international community” is punishable by law in China, possibly with the death penalty.

…perhaps there is something to this being a push for a new strategy on Taiwan joining UN-affiliated organizations across the board as part of a strategy of pushing back against the CCP’s relentless efforts to undermine, subvert or control international agencies. Looked at from that angle, there is more meat on the bone in calling this conclave, and that might be enough to cause Beijing to react as strongly as they did.

Another possibility is they discussed forming a new organization or organizations that would include Taiwan, but exclude China, as part of a grand vision of “de-risking.” 

War on the Rocks on the possible repercussions of an economic blockade of Taiwan…

…an economic blockade in lieu of a full-scale military invasion has a low probability of success and, therefore, Beijing is unlikely to pursue such an operation and, indeed, hasn’t attempted it yet even though it has had the capability to do so for decades. In fact, an attempted economic blockade would almost inevitably lead to war or a humiliating defeat by China. 

…That country’s sense of national pride, history, and desire for self-determination have grown dramatically on the island as it transitioned to a democratic system of government in the 1990s. Chinese officials themselves seem to recognize this reality, as Defense Minister Dong Jun bitterly complained at the Shangri-La Dialogue this month that the prospect of “peaceful reunification …  is increasingly being eroded by separatists for Taiwan independence and foreign forces.”

On other matters: David Gerard, scourge of crypto flimflam, launches a new website on the new hyped-up tech BS – AI.

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The economy is tourism, and tourism is the economy

Chief Executive John Lee gives an interview to Sing Tao on the economy, saying…

Hong Kong should develop its economy at full speed with the priority for now being on quantity in the belief that quality will inevitably follow.

What does this mean? Nothing – unless by ‘economy’ you mean ‘the tourism industry’, and you think cramming the city full of low-budget mass-market visitors will then lure more high-spending ones. Thus…

Lee said his administration would also try to attract internationally renowned performers and events to the new Kai Tak sports park to boost the economy.

Inevitably, NatSec gets a look-in…

… “[Passing Article 23] is a milestone. We can now focus on improving people’s livelihoods and Hong Kong will definitely be better,” he said.

Lee said the national security risks that Hong Kong is facing now mostly come from overseas as some countries may target China due to geopolitics, affecting us.

Those countries will also send spies to Hong Kong, he added, reminding the public to remain cautious and pledging to raise awareness of national security risks through patriotic education.

Asked how the administration will handle relations with Western countries, Lee said officials here are not interested in bringing up political controversies all the time and willing to visit different regions to promote Hong Kong.

“We only inform people of the actual situation here when we come under attack. At other times, we just hope more people will visit Hong Kong for investment, business or tourism,” he said.

Hong Kong is a place with a high degree of freedom and the government welcomes international economic or academic exchanges, Lee said, adding the administration would also invite foreign officials or elites to visit apart from hosting international conventions and events.

So on the one hand, foreigners are a hostile scary threat – but on the other hand, we want them to come here and like us.

Returning to the quantity vs quality thing…

“It’s similar to running a restaurant. We should attract customers to fill it first, or we won’t be able to pick the right customers. After it is full and people start to queue up, we can then consider which dishes are high value-added and if we should raise the minimal charges for the VIP rooms,” Lee said.

“Quantity coming first before quality is inevitable. We should not ‘exclude’ some business opportunities at first.”

I’ve never run a restaurant. I don’t think I would do it this way.

On the subject of odd analogies and metaphors, HKFP reports that the CE also likens attracting mega-events to how he used to chase girls. By which I can – sadly – only guess he means ‘with great difficulty’, as Hong Kong today struggles to arouse any interest among all those glamorous stars who prefer the cool kids like Seoul, Tokyo, Taipei, Jakarta, Singapore, Bangkok and pretty much anywhere but here. (Though I saw a poster for the 5,6,7,8s recently – the Japanese rockers must be grannies by now. Click on pic above.)

Allen Zeman recently said ‘not many chief executives can do better than John Lee’. How does the current CE compare with hereditary shipping tycoon Tung Chee-hwa or bureaucrat Donald Tsang, who thought that pushing property prices up artificially could restore economic vibrancy? Is an ex-cop who sees mass-tourism as the lifeline an improvement?

Historically, Hong Kong did well with governments that largely left the people and business alone rather than trying to micromanage everything. Obviously, those days are over. For example, the mega-event that is the Book Fair comes with NatSec reminders. And the School Inspectors are back, with have some very specific priorities…

At the Yan Chai Hospital Lim Por Yen Secondary School in Tsuen Wan, students were said to have “actively [taken] part in patriotic activities” such as paper cutting and sugar painting during a Chinese culture week.

According to the report, however, students sang the national anthem softly during flag-raising ceremonies. Teachers were recommended to: “give reminders and help students develop a habit of singing the national anthem loudly.”

From SCMP

Tung Wah Group of Hospitals Kap Yan Directors’ College in North district was advised to give students more guidance so they could cultivate a habit and confidence in singing the national anthem, although it did not say their voices were weak.

It is not the first time the bureau has taken issue with how students sing the national anthem.

An annual summary inspection report released in December also hit out at teachers and students for singing the national anthem together “a little soft”, although no specific schools were named.

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We have ways of making you filled with joy

Mitigation hearings begin in the HK47 case, with special media zones and inflatable tunnels, and Benny Tai’s lawyer arguing that he should get no more than a two-year prison sentence. (I guess quoting Lord Sumption would have been provocative.)

Chief Executive John Lee says the July 1 Handover Day holiday will be ‘filled with joy’…

“I strongly believe that the day will be filled with joy because we have many different measures to help people celebrate,” Lee said in Cantonese.

On a different subject

so, like, legit question to the shoes-on-inside-the-house folks: does *mud* not exist where you live? or rain? or snow?

One reply suggests that in dry climates, wearing shoes should be less of an issue. But in those parts of (Saharan) North Africa I’ve visited, you always take your shoes off at the door. And in many damp parts of Europe, people wear shoes in the house. These places always have doormats, however. Perhaps by way of mitigation we could point out that doormats are serious things with stiff bristles, and woe betide anyone not using them.

Perhaps another climate-related issue would be that some places in Europe do not heat their homes much even when it’s cold. (Though the Japanese don’t, either.)

Another suggestion is that the mud in shoe-wearing places is ‘cleaner’. But a Tokyo street is surely less nasty than, say, a doggy-infested Parisian one. Perhaps in Japan – where shoe-removal is a major deal (even burglars comply) – people still remember less sanitary times. A century ago, in many parts of Asia (and still today, in some), the street outside was a mixture of mud and pig and duck droppings. So having separate indoor and outdoor shoes was essential. 

I do not get the really anal Japanese thing where you have separate slippers for the bathroom – assuming the household washes the bathroom floor from time to time.

Speaking of which, the common areas in my block probably (OK, definitely) have the floors cleaned more often than inside my apartment. So, in theory, the management should be making me take my shoes off when I leave home and enter the corridor.

Shoes on a bed – as seen in some Western TV shows – is gross.

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A nothing-berger?

One of the remaining UK non-permanent judges is hearing the appeal by Martin Lee, Margaret Ng, Jimmy Lai, Albert Ho, Lee Cheuk-yan, Long Hair and Cyd Ho (ages 67-88) over their conviction for illegal assembly…

[David] Neuberger told Reuters in mid-June he would remain on Hong Kong’s highest court to “to support the rule of law in Hong Kong, as best I can.”

HKFP story on the case here

On [August 18, 2019] organisers estimated that 1.7 million people attended a “water flow” assembly in Causeway Bay’s Victoria Park, as months-long protests sparked by a controversial amendment to the city’s extradition bill continued. The seven activists were seen leading a march, which they said was a “dispersal plan,” and chanting protest slogans.

The group successfully overturned their conviction over organising an unauthorised assembly last August, but their conviction on the participation charge was upheld. The case reached the city’s final appellate court on Monday, when five judges heard arguments on whether “operational proportionality” should be followed by local courts.

With Counter-Terrorism Police in attendance, perhaps in case Margaret Ng unleashes one of her killer cats… 

Plus fold-out tunnels, so appellants already in jail won’t be seen by the media.

The court reserves judgment.

Albert Ho and Lee Cheuk-yan are also being tried as members of the Tiananmen vigil organizers who are charged with ‘inciting subversion of state power’. Co-defendant Chow Hang-tung is asking for Anna Lai to be be removed from the panel of NatSec judges  …

Chow argued that Lai had previously viewed police investigatory materials that were redacted and kept from Chow and her defence team in a case involving the Alliance’s refusal to hand over data to the police.

…Lai’s access to those materials in the previous case could result in prejudice against Chow, the rights activist told the court, adding that the investigation materials were irrelevant to the national security case,

Allan Zeman says Chief Executive John Lee has made Hong Kong ‘come alive again’.

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