Saturday, 30 November 2019

Macau Keeping Busy

The view of The Venetian in Taipa from Sheraton Macao
I was in Macau yesterday and today and my schedule there was packed with visiting friends and eating (and drinking) that we finished really late last night and I was too tired to blog.

Interesting observations about Macau this trip:

My ticket to Macau (left) and return to HK for only HK$100!
When I went to buy first class return tickets at the Cotai Jet ticket counter at the Shun Tak ferry terminal, the staff said the total amount was HK$393. I was surprised as it's usually about HK$600. I reiterated that I wanted first class tickets and she confirmed. So I paid and then looked at the tickets.

The one going to Macau was priced at HK$293, while the one going back to Hong Kong was HK$100! I wondered if it was because no one wanted to go back to Hong Kong because of the protests and later asked my friend's former colleagues who work in hospitality in Macau.

They said it was because of competition from the Hong Kong-Macau-Zhu Hai bridge that forced the ferries to make their prices more competitive. If you can take a bus along the ferry for about HK$70, it's much cheaper, though it takes around the same amount of time, and logistically to go to the casinos and hotels, taking the ferry is more convenient.

Very tender char siu that may have been sous vide first
In addition, some sailings have been cut. I tried to buy a ticket for the 4.30pm sailing, but they said there were no sailings at that time, so I had to choose between 4pm and 5pm. I chose the former.

Macau in general was not as packed with mainland tourists as before, but many more than Hong Kong. The check-in counter at The Sheraton Macao had long lines of customers, but when walking through the shopping malls attached to the hotels, there weren't many people wandering around, let alone shopping. Maybe they were all gambling.

We met up with a chef of a Michelin-starred Italian restaurant who told us while business was pretty good, it was difficult for some of his Hong Kong-based guests to get to Macau because of the protests. But with this past week being relatively quiet on the protest front because the District Council elections were over, business seems to be slowly trickling back.

Delectable braised vermicelli with prawns in clay pot
Afterwards we had a late dinner with my friend's ex-colleagues at Fook Lam Moon in Galaxy Macau, well known for its refined Cantonese cuisine and the food overall was very good. The char siu was made from black-haired pig, the meat looking more like beef and very tender, which made us wonder if the pork was sous vide before it was roasted.

Other standout dishes were braised vermicelli with prawns in clay pot that had a slightly spicy finish, the signature crispy chicken, rice mixed with crab meat, conpoy and mushrooms, steamed in a lotus leaf, pan-fried boneless chicken wings stuffed with ham, and braised fried bean curd mixed with minced fish with bamboo fungus.

For dessert, the steamed red date pudding was delicious and elegantly topped with bits of gold foil. As it was one of the dinner guest's birthday, we also had longevity buns, fluffy peach-shaped steamed buns with lotus seed paste and slightly salted egg yolk inside.

Fan-tastic tofu with minced fish and bamboo piths
Our table was the last one to clear out of Fook Lam Moon before we headed to the Ritz-Carlton Bar & Lounge on the 51st floor. One of my friend's ex-colleagues who works at the hotel was very surprised to see how busy it was -- practically every seat in the bar was taken, it was very noisy thanks to the crowd and the live singer who was accompanied by a pianist who had competed in America's Got Talent.

After not much sleep three of us had an early breakfast in the 24-hour Cantonese eatery next to the casino. Every other table ordered a bowl of congee (HK$78), while we had a few dim sum to keep our stomachs from growling before lunch.

We noted how mainlanders wandered around in packs of three. There were three men in their 50s who each had a belt with the letter "H" on them; three women wandered into the restaurant, and last night in the bar we saw three young men coming and going several times. What's with that?

Pan-fried turnip cake with XO sauce for dim sum
After lunch I managed to catch the 3.30pm ferry, half an hour earlier than my ticket. The ferry was not full, probably because it was a Saturday afternoon.

Thursday, 28 November 2019

Police on Mission to Convict

Officers from the bomb disposal unit walk around Poly U campus
The Hong Kong Police continues with its agenda of opaqueness and vindictiveness.

Yesterday Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu reported to the Legislative Council that over 5,800 people had been arrested since June, and that 932 of them have been charged with various offenses.

Containers of petrol bombs are rounded up together
Some 2,600 people had been injured during the demonstrations and sent to hospital, including 470 police officers. Meanwhile 19 live rounds were fired in the past six months, hitting three protesters, all of whom have been discharged.

When it comes to tear gas, Lee says about 10,000 rounds of tear gas were fired, the highest number fired in a single day was November 12 when the police fired 2,300 canisters in seven districts, including at Chinese University campus.

There were requests to reveal what chemicals were used by the police for crowd dispersal including the ingredients of pepper spray, the blue dye shot from the water cannon, and tear gas.

However, Lee denied lawmakers' request to know where the police had bought their weapons, saying it would be inappropriate to disclose the information as it "would affect police's operational capability".

Protesters and the public have been exposed to tear gas
The same refrain was repeated today when the new Hong Kong police chief Tang Ping-keung told a news gathering that he could not reveal the ingredients in tear gas as it would reveal too much information. He said the Environmental Protection Department could do its own testing for dioxins in the environment and how it was generated.

This is outrageous for the police chief to claim the chemicals used in tear gas cannot be disclosed. We all know tear gas is toxic, we want to know by how much so that we can better treat people -- over 85 percent of the population.

But no, apparently this is a trade secret.

By the way Tang said the force did not oppose an independent inquiry, but strongly suggested all complaints be filed with the IPCC or Independent Police Complaints Council.

Police chief Tang Ping-keung welcomes independent inquiry
Huh huh. So far, over 1,200 complaints have been filed. So what are the complaints and how have these cases been dealt with so far?

Meanwhile this morning the police along with firefighters, psychologists, police negotiators and paramedics entered Hong Kong Polytechnic University campus to try to find any other protesters left there, but more importantly to collect evidence.

They found petrol bombs, chemicals stolen from laboratories on campus, and the police began not only photographing what they found, but even dusting the items, particularly petrol bombs to try to find out who made them.

This just shows how keen they are to prosecute, leaving little room for any kind of negotiation, which is what is really needed now following the landslide victory of the pro-democracy camp in the District Council elections. The pro-democracy councillors represent the will of the people, which means there are four more demands to be met.

Police dusting petrol bombs for any clues of who made them
With both sides still at odds with each other, the chances of any kind of resolution still remain far apart...

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Demanding Loyalty from HK's Civil Service

Thousands of civil servants protest against the government on September 3
The retaliation is starting.

Already the Hong Kong government is considering whether it should have all of its civil servants swear an allegiance to uphold the Basic Law, after there were complaints filed against 43 government employees for joining illegal rallies to going against the city's ruling principles.

Regina Ip needed extra protection walking around Central
At the Legislative Council meeting on Wednesday, Secretary for the Civil Service Joshua Law Chi-kong says the government is considering the suggestion made by pro-Beijing lawmaker Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee to require all 180,000 civil servants to take an oath to observe the Basic Law and "swear allegiance to the Special Administrative Region".

The complaints ranted from joining illegal assemblies to violent activities in demonstrations, or openly making statements against "one country, two systems".

Ip is trying to score more brownie points with China's senior leadership by making this suggestion that will surely frustrate people working for the government.

She is not a popular politician, first with Beijing for not being able to pass Article 23, the national security bill that resulted in half a million people coming out to protest against it and it was shelved indefinitely.

And Ip is not popular with Hongkongers -- the proof was seen on Monday lunchtime in Central when she had to walk around being surrounded by an entourage of riot policemen to protect her from verbal attacks by office workers.

Carrie Lam is living in a parallel universe. What about you?
She earlier tabled a motion urging Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor to implement the suggestion through an executive order so that it wouldn't have to go through the regular channels of being debated in the Legislative Council.

Up until now, only senior Hong Kong officials and those in the judiciary must take the oath.

If this happens does this mean we would all be eventually expected to take this oath too?

Surely if you live in Hong Kong, you agree to abide by the rules and regulations of the city. The demand for loyalty is too extreme.

Leung Chau-ting agrees. He's the chief executive of the Federation of Civil Service Unions and describes the move as "wholly unnecessary", that implementing this suggestion would suppress free speech and expression.

Leung Chau-ting says making a pledge "wholly unnecessary"
He also feared if this was in place, it would deter a lot of young people from joining the civil service if they knew they could be punished for what they said or did outside of work.

"Very likely, people may feel that the government is trying to incriminate its workers by their speech... It does absolutely nothing to help the current situation."

Leung said it was critical for the government to unite its employees and ensure they serve Hongkongers without being affected by the social movement, and not put forward a plan that could produce the opposite effect.

So... if Lam wants to deescalate the situation, best not to implement Ip's suggestion. But watching Lam's track record of being completely tone deaf, it could possibly happen...

Tomorrow former chief executive Leung Chun-ying will address a crowd about his political ideas. It's a full house -- possibly full of hecklers...

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Elation Turns to Frustration

Carrie Lam makes her first public comments after District Council Elections
From an ecstatic high yesterday coming off of the landslide victory for pan-democrats who won 392 of the 452 seats in Sunday's District Council elections, the atmosphere in Hong Kong plunged back to frustration when Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor held her press conference this morning.

What did she say?

She basically repeated her statement from yesterday, thanking the unprecedented number of voters for coming out, thanking the civil servants for running a smooth election despite the challenges (what challenges?) and that she had heard what the electorate have said.

Office workers protested at IFCin Central... with Doraemon?!
Her conclusion?

That the people voted for an end to violence.

Err we want an end to this crisis that has destroyed Hong Kong for the past six months because of her!

She even added that Beijing did not blame her for the losses suffered by her supporters, the pro-Beijing parties that are blaming her for throwing them under the bus regarding the extradition bill.

When reporters asked her whether she would listen to the people's demands of considering the other four demands, Lam basically said no, that she had already withdrawn the extradition bill that had sparked the protests in the first place, and no there would not be an independent inquiry into the police either.

The only thing she offered was that an independent review committee to look into the underlying causes of the anti-government protests was being set up.

Other office workers in Kowloon Bay disrupted traffic
Hello? We already know the answer. It's YOU, Carrie!

Any other government with a shred of integrity would have resigned months ago.

But no, Beijing apparently did not give her the honour, nor did she give an indication that she even tried to quit.

Despite everything -- every blunder Lam has made in the past six months, Beijing still insists on backing her. They must be living in a parallel universe. There is no other way to explain the complete disconnect.

Sadly in Hong Kong we cannot impeach her for her incapacity to govern or inability to listen to the people. We are stuck with an ineffective leader, nay, a glorified civil servant who cannot and will not do what is best for Hongkongers, and instead follow Beijing's orders.

This has just further infuriated the 57 percent of the 2.9 million who voted for the pan-democrat and probably the pro-Beijing side too for Lam's inaction.

So as expected, people in Central went to IFC mall to voice their protest, while traffic stopped in Kowloon Bay for about 20 minutes with people saying, "Five demands, not one less!"

Some protesters are still at Hong Kong Polytechnic University
These protests are just going to continue on and on and on.

The sad thing is that the people holed up at Hong Kong Polytechnic University are tired, hungry and desperate, while the Cross Harbour Tunnel will be reopened as of 5am tomorrow. Lam has repeated her call that those under 18 will not be arrested but their details will be taken down, which surely means they will be prosecuted later, with a possible 10-year sentence for rioting over their heads.

This is not how to de-escalate the situation.

With the pan-democratic win, Lam should be offering to work together with these newly-elected politicians and come to some kind of compromise. However she dismisses them as district-council level people who don't influence the Legislative Council much.

Has she forgotten that these pan-democrats can decide who will be the 117 people who will be on the 1,2000-committee that chooses the next chief executive?

Her arrogance knows no bounds.

What did we do to deserve her?

Monday, 25 November 2019

Universal Suffrage Works in Hong Kong

Today was a happy and unforgettable day for a lot of people in Hong Kong
The people have spoken.

Loud and clear.

Of the 4.1 million registered voters, 2.94 million cast their ballots with a resounding renunciation of the pro-establishment parties in favour of pro-democracy ones in 17 of the 18 districts.


However it must be said those who supported the blue camp came out strong, but it was the yellow side that had more votes, probably thanks to many young voters and first-time voters.

The results today sent a strong signal to Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, her administration and more importantly to Beijing that Hong Kong people love Hong Kong and they still want their five demands to be met.

Starry Lee (centre) of the DAB managed to retain her seat
It means that despite the escalating violence these past six months, the majority of voters still support the protesters. They want universal suffrage. They want an independent inquiry into police brutality. They want protesters not be labelled as "rioters".

The undeniable rejection of the pro-establishment caught Beijing completely off guard.

Hong Kong's masters in the motherland had assumed that the "silent majority" would come out and denounce the protesters, that they wanted an end to violence.

But Beijing completely assumed wrong.

How did it go wrong?

They believed in their own propaganda.

Carrie Lam thanked people for voting. That's it?
And their intelligence -- gathered from afar in Shenzhen -- was absolutely incorrect.

This clearly illustrates their lack of understanding or willingness to understand Hong Kong.

It could also be attributed to the fact that they only listen to Hong Kong elites and aren't pounding the pavement in the city to find out what's really going on. Or they aren't bothering to learn Cantonese.

It took a while for Xinhua to finally report on what happened, only to say that Hong Kong held elections, but didn't divulge who won let alone any numbers. They are deliberately keeping mainlanders in the dark about the power of universal suffrage.

As for Lam, she only issued a statement thanking the people for voting, respected the results and would humbly listen to the views of the people and reflect on her and the government's shortcomings.

Huh? She's had six months to do that.

Popping champagne when pro-Beijing Junius Ho lost his seat
We want action now!

Analysts say Lam has to accede to some of the demands, but for her not to say this in her statement today means she is still waiting for Beijing to give her the green light. Or she still has her head in the sand.

But she may not yield because Beijing has never had a fully democratic election before, and this one, the District Council elections are an exercise in universal suffrage. Although the people who are voted in are only responsible for neighbourhood issues, this time the electorate was voting on party lines, not livelihood issues.

Beijing must be terrified by this and may change the rules next time. But they cannot avoid these election results. They cannot deny Hong Kong what it needs and it needs the five demands to be met.

The majority of the 2.94 million people have stood up to Beijing at the ballot box.

China's twisted belief that Hongkongers want independence is completely wrong. Hongkongers accept that Hong Kong is a part of China. They just want to be able to directly elect their leader who is accountable to them.

How is that so difficult to understand?

Despite the pro-establishment having deep pockets to canvas voters, money did not help them win.

And they are hating Lam and her group of inept civil servants for leading them down the garden path.

In the meantime, the pan-democrats will have to roll up their sleeves and demonstrate they can do the work asked of them.

We want them to put our city back in order, since our senior leaders aren't capable of doing that.

Sunday, 24 November 2019

Record Voter Turnout

A relatively short line to vote around noon in my neighbourhood
This morning I woke up to find that some of my friends had already voted in the District Council elections. They had voted when the polling stations opened at 7.30am!

I thought I would do my usual routine of having breakfast but a bit earlier so I could go vote before heading to the swimming pool.

This morning the line snaked up the street on the left
But by the time I turned the corner a block away from the polling station, there was already a massive line that stretched around the block, almost to the housing estate at the top of the slope.

I wasn't prepared to wait so I headed to the pool first where I was out-swum by a Chinese guy who passed me every four laps!

Eventually I finished my swim, and at the MTR station picked up a sandwich thinking, if I have to wait in line, I might as well eat.

When I got out of the Kennedy Town MTR station just before noon I half expected a line right outside, but there wasn't one and I walked towards the polling station thinking the line would be around the corner, but instead it was very short.

I only had to wait about 15 minutes and too my relief no riot police in sight. As I lined up to get my ballot, there was an elderly woman in front of me. She gave the polling staff her ID card and then showed them a business card with the picture of the candidate running for the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong. He's actually the incumbent for my constituency.

This elderly woman on the right revealed who she voted for
The polling staff tried to tell the elderly woman to not show them who she would vote for and she didn't understand -- she thought she was voting at that moment. But they had yet to give her the ballot!

She didn't understand and they had to tell her to put that card away and then find someone to assist her while she voted.

For me it took less than a minute to vote, fold the ballot and then put it in the ballot box.

There was a massive voter surge in the morning that by early afternoon the number of votes was the same as the 2015 election -- which is surprising because I remember people waiting in long lines in the dark to vote.

In any event by 9.30pm a record 2.85 million people out of 4.1 eligible voters had cast their ballots, or 69 percent of the electorate. At 12.40am it was reported 2.94 million people voted, 71.2 percent of the electorate.

People concerned about vote rigging are standing by tonight
Now there are people waiting around polling stations to wait for the results. In general it seems areas that saw lots of violence like Sham Shui Po, Tai Koo Shing, Tsuen Wan, and Tai Po had a huge voter turnout. In Sha Tin City One, for example, over 80 percent of voters cast their ballots, which is unprecedented.

It will be interesting to see what the results are in these areas.

In the meantime, there are video clips online of voters being bribed. One showed pictures of people getting a large box, perhaps a pillow?, while another showed orange bags being distributed, but it was unclear what was in them. Another DAB candidate handed out his card, much like the elderly voter in front of me, and together with some shopping coupons from a supermarket chain.

Over 3,000 complaints about voting were filed today, from people's votes used by others posing as them, to bribery, to busing in people from across the border.

Counting begins... except I won't be staying up for that... stay tuned.

Saturday, 23 November 2019

What Tomorrow Brings

The anti-government protests have been going on for over six months now
Tomorrow is the District Council elections and there were concerns the government would call them off because of escalating violence from six months of anti-government protests.

Protest held today against the police's extensive use of tear gas
Many see tomorrow's elections as a referendum on Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and her administration, particularly in her bungled handling of this half year-long crisis that seems to have no end.

Although some people are still holed up at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, the city has been relatively calm these few days, including a peaceful protest in Kowloon Tong this morning by families against the police force's indiscriminate use of tear gas.

Nevertheless, the pro-democracy camp has informed its supporters to vote as early as possible, concerned that the polling booths could be shut down if there is violence, so get the vote in early -- as early as 7.30am when the polling booths open.

Some of the destruction at Hong Kong Polytechnic University
This strategy is also to counteract the anticipated busloads of seniors from old folks homes who will be bused in to polling booths and then treated to dim sum after.

And the pro-Beijing side always say that protesters get paid...

One heartening piece of news is that the people of Hong Kong have been awarded the 2019 John McCain Prize for Leadership in Public Service. The awarded was received in Halifax, Canada by Figo Chan Ho-wun of the Civil Human Rights Front that organizes the mass marches, and former lawmaker Emily Lau Wai-hing.

Human rights activist Figo Chan in Halifax to receive award
Chan gave a short speech (in broken English) explaining to the audience how the Chinese government frames the protesters as "rioters", but that "we are simply fighting for democracy, freedom, and social justice. This is not a value of Hong Kong. This is a value we share between all of us".

He added over 4,000 people have been arrested so far, including first aiders, doctors and reporters.

"Even with immense pressure from the Chinese, we hope the international society will stand, join with us," Chan said.

Cindy McCain presented the award to Hong Kong people
Earlier Cindy McCain, wife of Senator John McCain who died in 2018, said: "I hope this tribute to those who are struggling for their rights in Hong Kong will encourage more people around the world to raise their voices in support of their cause, especially in my country's government. They are fighting for something larger than themselves."

Friday, 22 November 2019

Picture of the Day: Where's the Traffic?

The near empty Harcourt Road in Wan Chai towards Causeway Bay

This afternoon I had a lunch appointment followed by a meeting at the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong which is above Kowloon Station. I didn't finish until very late afternoon and had to get back to the office and so I took a taxi.

For traffic at 4.40pm there weren't that many cars on the road along the Western Tunnel, and then on Hong Kong Island we went along Lung Wo Road, passing by the Central Harbour front area where Clockenflap would have been set up by now if it hadn't cancelled, then cut onto Harcourt Road.

This main artery is usually choc a block with cars inching towards the Cross Harbour Tunnel, but since it has been blocked for a week by protesters, traffic was amazingly light. I could hardly believe it that I had to take a picture.

But once we got onto the Canal Road flyover, the regular traffic jam was back, slowly going up the on ramp, then passing Times Square before getting off. There were so many cars going towards the shopping mall that the taxi driver dropped me off a block away to avoid getting stuck.

The closure of the Cross Harbour Tunnel has affected hundreds of thousands of commuters daily and it is unclear when it will be reopened. But for the rest of us, having feeder routes to the tunnel completely empty have been a strange but welcome relief.

Thursday, 21 November 2019

BBQ in Aberdeen Country Park

Meats roasted in various stages including my char siu about to be cooked
We take a break from protest programming to describe an outing we had last Saturday.

Now that the weather has cooled down considerably, my relatives came up with the brilliant plan of having a barbecue -- at 10am.

We all met at Aberdeen Centre and from there took a short mini bus or a taxi ride up to Aberdeen Country Park where there are barbecue pits free of charge. For me it was the first time taking the no. 58 mini bus from Kennedy Town to Aberdeen Centre, which took about 20 minutes.

The country park has a nice (developed) setting for barbecues
One of my uncles who lives near there went ahead earlier and occupied one of the pits which is the perfect spot: under the trees for shade protection and next to a picnic bench. Nearby are public toilets and even a commissary should you need extra snacks and drinks to supplement your barbecue.

This uncle had already placed newspapers on top of the picnic bench, then a big plastic sheet over the table top and held it down with string in three places. So professional.

My other uncle and his son started the fire by arranging the charcoal bricks like a Jenga tower but with spaces in between. This turned out to be completely unnecessary once the fire started going and the charcoal became white and the tower collapsed.

They had also brought marinated meats along, like chicken wings (two kinds), thin pork fillets in a char siu marinade, and a selection of offal, like liver. There were also processed meats like sausages and even fish balls and squid balls. And being Chinese, we also had a container of pickled vegetables, fresh cabbage leaves, corn, and sweet potatoes that we placed in the pit to roast.

Walking along the path to the Upper Aberdeen Reservoir
Once the fire toned down and the charcoal started turning white, that's when the real barbecuing began and it was quite fun sitting around shooting the breeze and slowly cooking our food. In the background I knew there were clashes going on at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, but this was a good way to get our minds elsewhere.

When I was pretty full, I asked my relatives where I could go for a walk and they gave me directions to walk to the Upper Aberdeen Reservoir. 

It was about a 15 minute walk up a gentle slope, where there are more barbecue pits. However they seemed to have attracted a family of wild pigs! The mother led her five piglets away from the barbecue pits and into the hillside and for me it was my first encounter with wild pigs so close up. The mother didn't seem to mind us humans, otherwise she would have been defensive in protecting her piglets.

A family of wild pigs near a barbecue site!
I walked passed them and kept going until I hit the upper reservoir, and it was quite an impressive sight. There were also lots of butterflies everywhere, enjoying the sun.

The Upper and Lower reservoirs were built to supply water to the west side of Hong Kong Island. The project began in 1929 and finished two years later. The Upper Reservoir stores up to 820,000 cubit metres of water, and together with the Lower Reservoir have a total capacity of 1.23 million cubic metres that served 850,000 residents.

From here I turned around to go back and again encountered the same wild pig family, that seemed to like to linger in the area... I wonder why...

When I came back the fire was perfect for roasting marshmallows and helped my cousins get that golden brown, slightly crunchy on the outside, and wobbly gooey inside. I couldn't help eating a few myself!

A scenic view of the Upper Aberdeen Reservoir
We finished in the late afternoon and needless to say there was no need for dinner except for some fruit! But it was also a good mini escape from the stress of the protests and enjoy a bit of nature (and food).

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Hong Kong Government Denials

Protesters dealing with non-stop tear gas in an earlier protest
Last week it was Matthew Cheung Kin-chung who left us all flabbergasted with his comment that he didn't understand why people were still angry even though the government had withdrawn the extradition bill.

This week it's Sophia Chan Siu-chee's turn.

Sophia Chan refuses to disclose the chemicals in tear gas
There have been calls since the protests began, asking what exactly is in the tear gas in terms of chemical composition so that the public and healthcare workers know how to treat victims of tear gas.

However, Chan denies there is a harmful effect from tear gas use, and refuses to disclose the chemical composition of the gas for fear it would affect police operations.

So police operations are more important than people's health?

Chan added the police were sourcing "safe and suitable equipment globally according to the established procedures".

Many dead birds have been sighted
She even had the gall to say in the Legislative Council that there was no evidence to suggest the use of tear gas can produce dioxins or cause dioxin poisoning.

"Given the short time of combustion of a tear gas canister, any cyanide produced will be quickly dispersed in the air," the health secretary said.

We know where this government's priorities are.
Then the environment secretary Wong Kam-sing attributes the toxic substances in the air to the burning of shops, and garbage, and Molotov cocktails.

So 10,000 rounds of tear gas don't mean much?

Have Chan and Wong seen the dead birds and squirrels around the city, especially around Hong Kong Polytechnic University these past few days?

These animals didn't commit mass suicide or all ate the same bad apple. 

Again these comments not only show how out of touch Hong Kong's senior officials are, but also how desperate they are to show they are in line with Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, or with Beijing.

Wong Kam-sin says pollution is created by the protesters
With their integrity is virtually non-existent these days, perhaps they think they can lie about everything.

Do they seriously think people believe them, regardless of what side they are on?

These elites are really astounding in their tone deafness...

Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Tear Gas Collection a Crime

Protesters trying to put out tear gas with water on the streets of Hong Kong

In the past five months, the Hong Kong police have fired around 10,000 canisters of tear gas at protesters and bystanders, and even those at home when the distinctive peppery smell wafts into their flats.

The vast majority of Hongkongers have had a "tear gas buffet", though breathing in the fumes is carcinogenic.

Police have fired over 10,000 rounds of tear gas
And so it's understandable for reporters and activists alike to collect these spent canisters to try to estimate how many rounds were fired.

Some residents have collected the canisters and strung them together on walkways as a kind of protest art.

But it turns out you need a license to carry ammunition, even when they're spent.

Chow Man, a 26-year-old reporter found that out the hard way when he was caught by police at an MTR exit at Sai Wan Ho in the early hours of November 18 to be in possession of spent tear gas canisters, tear gas grenades, sponge grenade and rubber bullet.

The spent canisters have been used to make protest art
He was charged with possession of ammunition without a license today in Eastern Court, but Chow was denied bail. While he didn't have to enter his plea, his next court date won't be until January 14.

If convicted, Chow could face a sentence of up to 14 years in jail and a fine of up to HK$100,000.

So even trying to clean up the streets of Hong Kong of tear gas canisters and rubber bullets is a crime...

Meanwhile there are reports of lots of birds spotted dead on the ground, thanks to inhaling so much tear gas.

Monday, 18 November 2019

Anger Continues to Seethe

Hong Kong Polytechnic University was on fire late last night
Today, a lot of Hong Kong people were really angry.

They were angered by the police's heavy handedness in dealing with the protesters holed up in Hong Kong Polytechnic University, not allowing them any way out, while firing endless rounds of tear gas and water cannons at them and threatening to use live rounds.

Meanwhile the protesters were trapped inside the campus and running out of food and drink. There is a video circulating on Twitter of two social workers who read out a message in English saying the police wouldn't let them out, that they are stuck inside Poly U, and that the protesters who are trapped inside are emotionally distraught, and some are injured but can't get medical aid.

In the morning many Hong Kong residents didn't go to work and instead headed towards Poly U to distract the police and to offer help the protesters. However the police kept them at bay with teargas, but that didn't deter them from leaving the area.

At lunchtime as expected, office workers in Central occupied Pedder Street and Connaught Road Central, carrying umbrellas and ready to take on the tear gas with umbrellas.

Long lines waiting to catch the Star Ferry back to HK Island
And around the same time came some good news to cheer about -- the High Court ruled that the government's anti-mask law that was put into effect on October 5 was unconstitutional.

High Court judges found the mask ban introduced under emergency legislation was "incompatible with the Basic Law".

Two judges also found the measure that gave police the power to require a person to remove his or her mask at public places a disproportionate measure given its "remarkable width".

"There is practically no limit on the circumstances in which the power under that section can be exercised by a police officer," the judges wrote.

A lot of people are back to wearing masks again.

Tonight after work, so many people -- thousands -- wanted to head to Poly U to offer their support that to deter them, the Tsim Sha Tsui MTR station was closed, so they took the Star Ferry instead by the droves. It's probably the best day in business the Star Ferry has ever had in a long time.

Protesters abseiling down from a bridge to motorbikes below
Despite getting over to Kowloon, and then marching a few kilometres to Poly U, the next challenge was having to fend themselves from tear gas and the threat of arrests by police. As I write this, thousands of people have descended on the area, and trying to make their way to Poly U. It's not that easy, but they are determined to make it there.

To see so many people out there trying to help, even just moral support is amazing. To see so many people willing to risk arrest to help the protesters just shows how much the respect for authority in Hong Kong has fallen by the wayside.

Meanwhile some protesters found a creative but also dangerous way to escape the campus by abseiling down from a bridge using a hose and then getting away by waiting motorbikes below. Apple Daily has reported at least 100 protesters escaped this way before the escape route was spotted by police.

And now leading politicians, including former president of the Legislative Council Jasper Tsang Yok-sing, Ip Kin-yuen, the education sector lawmaker, have gone into Poly U and promised that those under 18 would not be arrested, but that the police would note down their details.
 Some 150 students took the deal and left the campus, but other protesters warned them not to trust "outsiders".

It's hard to say... should these people be trusted? But at the same time, these kids are mentally and physically exhausted.

Meanwhile where is Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor? Earlier in the day she visited the policeman -- police liaison officer -- who was shot in the leg with an arrow. As she left the hospital she didn't take any questions from the media about what was happening at Poly U.

It seems she has left that to the police to handle while she waits in her ivory tower for the mess -- her mess -- to be cleaned up... 

Sunday, 17 November 2019

Hong Kong's Battle to the Death

Earlier in the day police tried to pummel the protesters with water cannons

Students and hardline protesters have been literally at war with the police at Hong Kong Polytechnic University all day today. Even though the police have water cannons and armoured vehicles, the protesters with their makeshift weapons have managed to fend them off for over 12 hours. One policeman was even shot in the leg with an arrow.

Water cannons unleashed blue dye on the protesters
At around 9pm, the protesters were given until 10pm to leave the campus, but guess who was waiting at all the exits? The police.

The kids are literally fighting to the death now and managed to stop an armoured truck from entering thanks to Molotov cocktails thrown at it. Pretty impressive.

Some lawmakers tried to negotiate with the police, like Ted Hui Chi-fung, except the police replied by pepper spraying him. 

Again the Hong Kong government is hiding behind the police who are doing all the dirty work, trying to clear the university and also unblock the Cross Harbour Tunnel so that life can get back to normal.

Molotov cocktails stopped an armoured truck from advancing
Except that life isn't normal here anymore.

I went out for dinner tonight at Causeway Bay and asked the host to push up dinner earlier. They complied and we met at 6pm thinking the MTR would still be running until 10pm. However at just after 7pm there was an announcement that the MTR would close at 8pm at Causeway Bay. How convenient.

By the time we finished dinner around 9.20pm disruptions were happening in Central... needless to say I waited for a bus and nothing came. It also didn't help that in the distance I could see three or four riot police with shields crossing the road. I walked to Queen's Road East and managed to catch a taxi.

A policeman with an arrow shot in his calf
At Cheung Kong Centre in Central I could see lots of riot police standing around, and then as the taxi drove by, I saw at least 10 young people behind detained by the police, some wearing white T-shirts. It was unsettling to see.

Meanwhile there are protesters who are surrounding the police who are surrounding Poly U.

It's going to be a sleepless night for everyone...