Thursday, 12 December 2019

Picture of the Day: Cross Harbour Tunnel Overpass

The empty overpass at the cross harbour tunnel towards Poly U
This morning I went to Hung Hom to attend the funeral of my parents' friend.

The funeral parlour is conveniently located near Hung Hom station and the bus stop for cross harbour tunnel buses. So when the service ended at 10.30am, I needed to take a cross harbour tunnel bus to get to the office.

Usually the overpass has lots of people walking across it at all hours, but this morning there was no one.

The overpass is lined with yellow water barricades to deter anyone from doing anything. But to see no one walking along the passageway was very eerie, following protesters' clashes with police in mid-November that led to a standoff for almost two weeks at Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

Yesterday the campus reopened certain sections of the campus that have been cleaned up. Other areas will be opened in phases later this month and in January depending on how the clean-up goes and safety inspections.

The second semester will start January 13, though the first two weeks will be scheduled with exams that were supposed to be taken last semester, and then classes start again February 3.

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

IPCC Panel Quits, Government Credibilty Falls Further

There's lots of documented evidence of police brutality in the past six months
What did Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor think she would achieve by having a panel of international policing experts advise the Independent Police Complaints Council (IPCC)?

Today the panel announced it decided to "step aside" from the investigation into the police force's handling of the six month-long protests. In a statement, the experts said despite their calls for more investigative powers, "dialogue with the IPCC has not led to any agreed process through which the [panel] would be able to effectively support the Thematic Study [of several key protest dates] any further at this stage".

Denis O'Connor has said an independent inquiry is needed
"As a result, the [panel] has taken the decision to formally stand aside from its role," they said.

Earlier last month the panel already proposed that the police watchdog be given more powers to conduct a full investigation into officers' conduct into the handling of the protests triggered by the now-withdrawn extradition bill.

Lam was not pleased they said this early on, and has consistently told the media she would wait to see what was in the panel's report that would have been submitted next month.

However the panel has effectively quit today. Maybe it didn't help that IPCC chairman Anthony Neoh, who had actually gone to the UK to recruit these international experts with years of experience in policing and crowd behaviour, really understood Hong Kong, and described their suggestions as overstepping the police watchdog's remit.

IPCC's Anthony Neoh tried to downplay the panel quitting
As for the panel quitting, Neoh and his deputy, pro-Beijing lawmaker Tony Tse Wai-chuen tried to downplay the news more as the panel "standing aside" and that the experts could be involved again later. How many people believe that?

Did Lam really think these experts, like Denis O'Connor, a former British chief inspector of constabulary, and Justice Colin Doherty, head of New Zealand's police watchdog were lame puppets? She was sorely mistaken.

This is just yet another indication of how little credibility if any the government has left. It can't even take the constructive suggestions of policing experts to hold an independent inquiry. And more importantly why is Lam dragging her feet so much on this issue?

Does she really have no power to call a proper inquiry? Or is she too terrified to do that because she has lost control of the police?

What did Lam think she would gain from the panel?
So was this panel of experts just for show and to buy time? Apparently these experts didn't get the memo and made a decent recommendation that would have won wide-spread public support and possibly decreased the number and intensity of the protests.

But now we are stuck with more protests and more distrust of the police and government.

Lam really doesn't want to end this crisis, does she?

Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Hong Kong Protests by Numbers

Carrie Lam repeating herself every week, offering no new solutions
The anti-government protests have just stretched past the six-month point, and Sunday's turnout of 800,000 people shows the movement is still very strong.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and her administration must be scared. Really scared.

Hong Kong police have fired 16,000 rounds of tear gas
This morning in her weekly press briefing she was asked her reaction to the "silent majority" who were not pro-government, but instead pro-protest. She evaded the question entirely, and instead replied in Hong Kong this showed people were given the freedom to express their opinions...

But here are some cold, hard facts from the Hong Kong police on the protests so far:

- Over 6,000 people have been arrested: 4,474 males and 1,548 females, ages ranging from 11 and 84 years old. Of those arrested, 2,393 are students.

- 16,000 rounds of tear gas fired

- 10,000 rubber bullets

- 2,000 bean bag rounds

- 1,850 sponge grenades

- 493 police officers have been injured since June, including 452 male and 41 female

Police did not mention how much pepper spray they used...
We don't know exactly how many protesters have been injured, with some not going to hospitals for medical help but instead through an underground system of volunteer paramedics, doctors and nurses.

As Lam didn't say anything enlightening today, the protests will continue, but with the protesters having a higher moral ground following the results of the November 24 elections showing wide support for them.

How is this all going to end, Carrie? Or perhaps Beijing doesn't have a clue either?

Telling Hong Kong to be like Macau demonstrates how little understanding Chinese officials have of the immense differences between the two cities.

Over 6,000 people have been arrested since June
Hong Kong refuses to die too. Yes, many shops and restaurants are closing down, but in some ways this is a good reset for the city's economy and it must innovate to find a new way out of the recession.

For example, does Hong Kong really need eight Louis Vuitton stores? They were mostly catering to the mainland market. It's time for the city to diversify its customer base and look elsewhere to bring in tourists and create new activities for visitors to do besides shop.

The Hong Kong government can't even find its way out of a paper bag so it's up to local residents to come up with creative ideas to stimulate business.


Monday, 9 December 2019

Did Teresa Cheng Try to Flee or Not?

Teresa Cheng on December 3 when she returned to Hong Kong via Beijing

Remember last month when the Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah was hounded by about 30 protesters in London that they apparently caused her to fall and injure her arm?

She suffered a fracture and partial dislocation of her wrist on November 14 and had surgery in London.

She fell and injured her arm in London in November 14
But she didn't return back to Hong Kong until December 3 -- by way of Beijing.

When she came back, she did not reveal how long she was in the Chinese capital for, or why she received treatment there, and not in Hong Kong.

"The operation was carried out in Britain, and the [Chinese] embassy, when arranging my return... arranged for me to be transferred to Beijing, our capital," she said after returning to Hong Kong on December 3.

There is an interesting story that was reported in the Financial Times on December 6. The article cited three anonymous sources who said Cheng "had wanted to remain [in London] and resign from her government post until she was ordered home by Beijing."

Cheng with Liu Xiaoming in the Chinese embassy in London
When asked to comment the Department of Justice reiterated what Cheng said and denied the report. "The secretary did not ask to resign as reported. The relevant report was completely groundless."

Why would someone want to have medical treatment in Beijing as opposed to London? And why go there for medical treatment for weeks? Did she want to quit?

Seems like Cheng was "detained" for medical reasons. Unlike most people who are detained, she was released in a short period of time...