Hong Kong – Where Are the Tycoons & Celebrities

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People are asking why HK’s tycoons and celebrities aren’t speaking up in favor of the democracy protesters. It’s pretty easy to figure out.

The mega-rich in Hong Kong want to continue to do business in China. Hong Kong’s 7 million people – with a large percentage living below the poverty line or earning minimum wage – aren’t a big enough market for them when you compare it to China’s middle and upper classes, which I’m guessing numbers somewhere between half and three quarters of a billion. So they won’t rock their economic boat.

Very few HK movie, TV and music stars have spoken out, Chow Yun Fat and Anthony Wong being two rare exceptions. I’m convinced that most stars are under incredibly restrictive contracts and they won’t risk their livelihoods.  Again, the major media distributors want to distribute their products in China as well as Hong Kong and don’t want to see that market closed, or specific artists banned.

Here’s one exception – Chapman To.

chapman

 

Chapman To Man Chak yesterday appeared at the Dragon Center to promote his film FLIRTING IN THE AIR. When TVB interviewed him, the host asked Ah Jat to remove his yellow ribbon that showed his support for the movement and upset Ah Jat. Ah Jat immediately broke into foul language and refused to back down. “TVB doesn’t allow people to wear yellow ribbons, crazy.” TVB could only continued the interview. Ah Jat was still angry after the interview, “Air it if you like, don’t air it if you don’t.” 

No idea if TVB aired it or not.

The same article mentions that Wong Jing is wearing a blue ribbon, indicating support for HK’s police and Beijing. It’s probably been close to 20 years since he’s made a movie worth watching.

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Hong Kong’s Old Guard Speaks – Martin Lee and Regina Ip

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First, Martin Lee, in the OpEd pages of Sunday’s edition. You may argue that Lee was not a very effective leader of the Democrats back in his day, but he was the leader they had and up against an opposition that no one else has figured out how to deal with either.

HONG KONG — At 76 years old, I never expected to be tear-gassed in Hong Kong, my once peaceful home. Like many of the other tens of thousands of calm and nonviolent protesters in the Hong Kong streets last Sunday, I was shocked when the pro-democracy crowd was met by throngs of police officers in full riot gear, carrying weapons and wantonly firing canisters of tear gas. After urging the crowd to remain calm under provocation, I got hit by a cloud of the burning fumes.

The protesters persevered. They ran away when gassed, washed their faces and returned with raised hands. But the police continued to escalate the crisis. Their aggressive actions hardened the resolve of Hong Kongers, many of them too young to vote, to defend our freedoms. These include the long-promised right to elect our leader — a right that was effectively ruled out in late August when the government in Beijing said that candidates for the city’s top executive post must be vetted by a nominating committee filled with Chinese government allies.

The riot police pulled back on Monday morning and since then the government has chosen a wait-them-out strategy. At times downtown Hong Kong has felt like a street festival: bands have appeared and tents have sprouted up. Young people chat, lounge, poke at their phones and sleep. Thursday night the atmosphere turned tense when Leung Chun-ying, the city’s chief executive, held a news conference in which he refused to resign. But by and large, Hong Kongers are relaxed and determined.

Why are we protesters — including the many high school and university students among us who have their whole lives ahead of them — fighting for our rights in the city’s streets?

Because this is a last stand in defense of Hong Kong’s core values, the values that have long set us apart from China: the rule of law, press freedom, good governance, judicial independence and protection for basic human rights. Beijing’s heavy-handed response earlier this week made it clearer than ever that our future as a free society is at stake.

It is young people on the frontline of the protests — including many who weren’t born when the territory was handed over from Britain to China in 1997 — who understand this most clearly. They don’t want to spend their lives in a Hong Kong that becomes like just another mainland city, corrupted by cronyism and a duplicitous one-party system. They value academic freedom and the ability to speak and write freely.

The protest will reach a crisis point, one we cannot win alone. In order for us to attain the rights that Beijing has promised, the rest of the world has to stand with Hong Kong. That includes the many multinational companies whose prosperity depends upon our free markets and open-and-honest society, but more important, it includes the world’s free democracies. Hong Kongers deserve more vigorous backing from Washington and London, which pledged to stand by us before the handover in 1997, when Beijing made the promises it is now so blatantly breaking.

Both Washington and London, in their failure to come out strongly in favor of the peaceful democracy protesters, have effectively sided with Beijing in a disgraceful display of power politics.

My biggest fears are twofold. If Beijing, in an attempt to defuse the situation, steps back from confrontation, offering a few meaningless carrots to the demonstrators and diplomatic bromides to the international community, the demonstrations — and the media attention so necessary to keep them going — may lose force. In that case, time is on Beijing’s side.

What would be worse, of course, is if the mandarins in Beijing conclude that global censure is meaningless, that overreacting with tear gas and violence against peaceful protesters will cost them nothing but a few weak protestations from the world community.

The people of Hong Kong have waited for decades for China to honor its promise that we would rule our city with a “high degree of autonomy.” This commitment was made in the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration, an international treaty registered at the United Nations — and applauded by the world when it was announced. China’s determination to ignore its promises and to control the election of Hong Kong’s next chief executive has created this dangerous climate.

Britain signed the Joint Declaration with Beijing and must act now that it is being violated. The United States is an effective guarantor of that treaty, and President Obama’s policy should be governed by the U.S.-Hong Kong Policy Act, which states that the survival of Hong Kong as a free society is in America’s interest. London and Washington have leverage with Chinese leaders and the duty to urge China to honor its international treaty obligations.

China’s leadership could still use its better judgment, as it has done before. In 2003, Beijing tried to force Hong Kong to pass legislation that would have rolled back religious, press and political freedoms. There was a massive peaceful demonstration on July 1, 2003. The chief executive at that time, Tung Chee-hwa, was eventually forced out of office and the law was shelved.

Beijing should stop dictating the outcome of Hong Kong’s elections and threatening the pillars of our society, not least so that China itself can advance with Hong Kong as its model.

The message of the past week is clear: The people of Hong Kong will fight for our freedom and way of life. At a time when the world is wondering if China will be a responsible member of the global community, Hong Kong has become the essential test.

Two days ago, a not unfavorable profile of Regina Ip. I don’t trust her and I think what she is doing at the moment is just saying whatever she feels she has to say so that Beijing will see her as the successor to CY Leung. And she will continue Hong Kong’s tradition of each CE being worse than the one before.

HONG KONG — As dusk settled over Hong Kong, Regina Ip glanced out of the window of her office in the Legislative Council building. Eight floors below, students chanted slogans as they prepared to escalate the boycott that within 48 hours would turn into the most momentous demonstrations on Chinese soil since the Tiananmen protests in Beijing a quarter-century ago.

“We have an identity crisis,” Ms. Ip said in an interview last week. “These young people, they are congregating outside. There’s a lot of problems with them — their sense of identity. How come they cannot identify themselves with China?” [Really? She has no clue?]

Squaring Hong Kong’s British colonial heritage with its reality as a part of China is a problem that Ms. Ip, student of Elizabethan poetry, former colonial official and now pro-Beijing lawmaker in Hong Kong’s legislature, has been tackling for decades. Her seesaw intellectual struggle in many ways mirrors Hong Kong’s, and she says wants to build an effective democratic system that fits Hong Kong’s reality: rule by Beijing.

Ms. Ip is one of the few establishment figures seeking to meet with leaders of the Occupy Central movement to find a way to end the protests that have caught the world’s attention. “If you see it in a positive light, it’s another demonstration of our tradition of large-scale peaceful protests, if we can resolve it peacefully,” she said on Thursday. She said she might run for Hong Kong’s top post in 2017, seeking to replace the increasingly unpopular incumbent, Leung Chun-ying.

For Ms. Ip, 64, the path of compromise was not always the natural choice. More than a decade ago, as Hong Kong’s top security official, she led the government’s push to pass a law on subversion and treason. Her efforts to ram the bill through the legislature, despite widespread concern that it would erode the city’s civil liberties, ended in failure and her resignation in 2003. She was also hobbled by her public statements, at one point remarking that democracy helped Hitler’s rise to power in Germany in the 1930s and led to the subsequent Holocaust, and that it was not “a panacea for all problems.” She later said she regretted making that comparison, but maintained that the point about democracy not being a cure-all was a valid one.

It was an unusual remark coming from someone who in the 1980s as a civil servant under the British helped set up some of Hong Kong’s first democratic institutions — elections for local councils. She then went to Stanford University and took a seminar on democracy taught by two prominent scholars on the subject, Seymour Martin Lipset and Larry Diamond.

And after her resignation in 2003 she went to Stanford again, that time to study under Mr. Diamond for a master’s degree. Her thesis was on how to build democracy in Hong Kong.

“She came here very burned and kind of wanting to withdraw and contemplate, and kind of recovered some political creativity and energy,” Mr. Diamond said in an interview. “And as a result of her thinking, began to develop what she thought was some kind of middle way or independent path that could navigate this difficult contradiction between hopes for greater popular sovereignty in Hong Kong and a pace and level of reform that Beijing could be comfortable with.”

In her master’s thesis, Ms. Ip argued for a stronger political party system in Hong Kong and a chief executive, much like in the United States, who was also a party leader, giving him or her more authority. She viewed democracy as more of a tool than anything — a mechanism to help Hong Kong’s leader govern more effectively. She concluded in the thesis that “if this opportunity is seized to good effect, the spinoffs for the future democratization of China are immeasurable.”

Now, though, she makes it clear that democracy has to be more than something nice to have in principle — it has to deliver. “While I fully support and understand the normative justifications for a democratic system, having seen Hong Kong’s democratic transformation, the big question in my mind is in what way more democracy added value,” Ms. Ip said in the interview.

After returning to Hong Kong she quickly set out to enter the public arena again, this time in the Legislative Council. In 2007, she stood for election, facing her onetime boss, Anson Chan, the former chief secretary of Hong Kong. Mrs. Chan, who won, said in an interview that a desire to keep Ms. Ip out of the Legislative Council helped her decide to run.

“Quite frankly, with her background, with her beliefs and with her character, I thought it would be sending to the community of Hong Kong quite a wrong message about democracy,” Mrs. Chan said in an interview. “I also knew, particularly with the entire Communist machinery behind her, the only person who stands a chance of defeating her is me. So that’s why I decided to run.”

Mrs. Chan said she did not think that Ms. Ip really believed in democracy, saying, “a leopard doesn’t change its spots.”

Ms. Ip ran again in 2008, successfully, and has been in the legislature since.

Ms. Ip studied the works of the 16th-century English poet Philip Sidney at the University of Glasgow. Soon after she was recruited in London to serve in Hong Kong’s colonial-era civil service. She speaks of the British colonial administrators with admiration — unusual because Chinese officials often view those who rose through the ranks of the British system with suspicion. “My British bosses, they actually governed Hong Kong in accordance with Confucian values,” she said, noting that she received commendations from several colonial governors.

“Is Hong Kong Chinese or is Hong Kong Western?” she asked. “It is in our interest to be both.”

It is her affection for Chinese culture, and passion for order and authority, that may draw her toward Beijing. Her website features a picture of former Prime Minister Zhu Rongji giving her a thumbs up during a meeting in Brussels in 2001, when she was Hong Kong’s top security official. And, like other pro-Beijing officials and lawmakers here, she acknowledges Beijing’s authority. She rattled off the names of senior officials she had just met in Beijing, where she had taken a delegation of business executives, quoting several of them in Mandarin.

“The reality in Hong Kong, naturally, is we are part of China,” she said. “You can’t really go against Beijing.”

So there you have it in a direct quote. If she does succeed Leung and become Hong Kong’s next Chief Executive, she “can’t really go against Beijing,” so in moments of crisis and in between, we know where her loyalties will lie.

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Hong Kong – Might Makes Right?

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Here’s how bad it is, taken from this Facebook Page (with links to translated evidence):

Dear media correspondents who care about what is happening in Hong Kong,

We are a group of Hong Kong citizens who are grateful for your concern and efforts in reporting the news of Umbrella Movement. We understand the challenge in obtaining and managing all the information as most journalists may work as a one man band. We have prepared a list of verified sources with translations including videos and first-hand articles regarding how the Hong Kong Police allow violence to be used against peaceful protesters.

A) Provocative action of the suspicious mobs

Suspicious mobs started meddling among the peaceful protesters yesterday in the busiest district Mong Kok and attempted to plunder the essential supplies of the protesters including safety equipment. Roaring with profanity, a large group of masked men threatened the peaceful protesters, arming with iron bars they destroyed all the booths including the medical supplies. In contrast with dispelling the peaceful protesters by means of pepper spray and tear gas on last Saturday, the police did not execute intervention on violence.

I) Destruction of first aid station outside Mong Kok HSBC by mobs

Video (SocREC): https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=984242581602673&set=vb.160696287290644&type=2&theater

0:20 The boy in black glasses and T-shirt “you even destroy first aid station”

0:24: Man in white glasses “you are wrong to put (the station) here.”

0:28 The boy replied “I will tell the police.” He tried to protect the first aid station.

0:50 An inspector appeared at the spot merely separating people

1:04 The thugs kept destroying the station in the witness of the inspector.

1:11 The inspector patted the shoulder of the thug in blue shirt. The inspector didn’t arrest anyone and allowed the thug to carry the booth away..

II) Thugs destroyed the supplies booth in Mong Kok by provocatively hurling away the carton boxes and toppling the supplies.

Video (HKFS):https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10152478610187872&set=vb.269056797871&type=2&theater

B) Protesting girls threatened by sexual harassment

Female protesters became sexual harassment target of the thugs in Mong Kok and Causeway Bay.

I) Thug hugged the legs of the girl protesters

Happening in the afternoon of Oct 3 in Causeway Bay where many pro-democracy protesters were gathering on roads to call for universal suffrage. A man came near her and hug her leg until the crowd shouted at him. He still tried to repeat the same act till he was under arrest.”

Photo: https://fbcdn-sphotos-e-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-xpa1/v/t1.0-9/1524658_10203996369445725_4344330427223964460_n.jpg?oh=54d2dd84159384465788cec4f5440438&oe=54CF1AAB&__gda__=1421463489_146ccd79da98d8c73f006f3c93b63bd8

 II) Female student supporting pro democracy occupying indecently assaulted by a man from the opposing side (direct quote from the witness – a nurse volunteer)

Translated Article(InMedia): http://www.inmediahk.net/node/1026818

III) Police let go of thugs who grabbed the breast of the girl protester in Mong Kok 

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iMnYyH-9NIY

0:11 The man with a cap grabbed the girl’s breast

0:22 Man with cap:”I didn’t harassed her. I just pushed her.”

0:36 The girl “I want to to report him”

0:34 Police escorted the thug away without arresting

1:04 The girl explained the incident. “A few men were provoking each other. I said please calm down. The lady (in blue shirt) provoked me and grabbed my phone. The lady said ‘why do you videotape me. I am taking your phone’. A few men started pushing me and touching my breast. I didn’t let the lady go by holding her blue shirt because she stole my phone.

2:08 Policeman asked her to assist the investigation and the girl realized that the man has already been released.

C) Police ignoring and tolerating vandalization

Despite all the violations and assaults stated above, police were found standing aside without intervening nor offering help to those who were injured, disturbed or harassed. Instead, some of the police were seen escorting provokers out of the zone without pressing charges.The police arrested nineteen people in total after a day-long chaos in downtown occupied area.

I) Police escorting the thugs to take the taxi

Video(SocREC): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6b1oZetBvw

0:29 A protester asked “are you going to release this man?”

0:40 The suspect was escorted to the taxi by the Police

II) Repeated request for help was ignored by the police as they turned a blind eye

Video(Citizen): https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10154735670590157&set=vb.721940156&type=2&theater

The protester in white T-shirt repeatedly asked for help from the police. “There is conflict. I need two policeman. Is it really impossible to send two policeman? who should I talk to?”

“The police is apathetic to people dying,” shouted from the crowd. “I can bring you there,” repeated the protester from 1:00. However, none of the policemen around him addressed his call.

III) Police attacked citizen with extensible steel baton 

Video(HKFS) (English Subtitle) :https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10152479379252872

 Police attacked citizen with extendible steel baton. That citizen filmed the whole incident in a hurry. Other policemen responded with foul language, and attempted to assault that citizen again.

IV) Police Witnessed to have Let Assaulter Go at MTR

Video:(Local Press) https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=1547183948831414

At Mongkok MTR Station, a mobster hit someone and was arrested by the police.However, at the scene, a Hong Kong citizen said that he eye-witnessed that mobster had been caught by the police earlier on. That citizen said that he had assisted in subduing that mobster and took a video of the whole process as evidence. He personally saw the police handcuffing the mobster and bringing him away. However, later on, the same mobster appeared again in the street without any handcuff. Citizens surrounded the police and the mobster at the Mongkok railway station, shouting that they wanted to “escort” the mobster and the policeman to the police station. The reporter of Local Press subsequently interviewed the citizen mentioned above, who explained the incident in detail.

V) Police escorting suspect to “protect him from danger” while “don’t know what happened”

Video (citizen) : https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=4793292928416

Suspect is escorted by the policeman who claimed that he knew nothing but believe the suspect was in danger surrounded by the protesters. Protesters tried to block their way and furious about the police ignoring the law. Protesters asked the policeman to put on handcuff but was ignored.

Police(PC no. 53956) escorting a suspect of beating protester, without putting handcuff but only putting his hand on the suspect shoulder.

0:13 Protester: “The policeman is not fair.”

0:25 Protester repeated: “53956″ (PC no.)

0:40 Protester: “Are you escorting him to leave?”

0:54: Protester in white T-shirt stood in front of the suspect with hands at the back trying to block the way – “I did nothing”.

1:16 Police: “Okay. Please. We don’t know what happened”

1:19 Protester: “You don’t know what happened. Do you mean you are releasing this suspect?”

1:32 Policeman: “I only knew that many people surrounded him. He was in danger.” Protester: “53956(PC number). You are ignoring the law.”

01:41 Protester: “He beat people.”

01:47 Protester: “Calm down. Any witness?”

02:01 Protester: “Put on Handcuffs”

02:36 Policeman to walkie-talkie: “We are surrounded by the citizens.”

02:45: Policeman: “Please calm down. Where is the witness? I only saw him being surrounded.”

03:00: Protester: “we have video”

03:15: Policeman: “I don’t know what happened just. Find the witness, okay?”

D) Brutal physical abuse by mobs on protesters

Thugs punched and kicked protesters in the occupied areas while it took much much longer than usual for the reinforcement of police to arrive.

I) Protesters Drenched in blood after being beaten by mobs

Video(Apple Daily): https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10152840971567448&set=vb.105259197447&type=2&theater

00:06 Protester was pushed to the floor

00:10 Man in black T-shirt continuously hit the head of the protester with object

00:18 Protester drenched in blood

01:57 The crowd applauded and cheered

Photo(Dash):https://www.facebook.com/dashhk/photos/pb.430660383682444.-2207520000.1412355738./703574849724328/?type=3&theater

II) Secondary school student injured after being beaten by mobs

Photo(Citizen) :https://www.facebook.com/hk926/photos/pb.351486368335627.-2207520000.1412396187./353786794772251/?type=3&theater

A secondary school student wearing uniform was beaten in Mong Kok. His lips were injured and bled.

III) Physical attack from the mobs

Video(SocRec): https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=984413098252288

Mr. Lau, a voluntary security guard of the protest, shares his experience of how the police treated him upon his complaint of being attacked by the mob. He was trying to offer help to the protesters when a group of masked gangsters meddled in Causeway Bay. He was asked to leave but he refused to go. One of the masked gangsters first pushed then started beating him up. Five others joined in the harassment. Mr Lau protected himself by basic martial art which barely saved him from the violence. He was relieved when he saw the arrival of the police, but he was soon taken by surprise as a high ranking police officer commanded him to back off from the confrontation as if he was the one stirring up troubles, even though it was obvious that Mr. Lau was the one being attacked as his posture was clearly a defensive one. He became emotional as he explained that it was reasonable for him to defend himself with martial arts while the mobs attacked him. When the police separated him from the 6 masked attackers, he was clueless why he was criminalised as an offender. He expressed his disappointment in the Hong Kong Police and he suspected that the police and the mob cooperated in today’s vandals due to how the police handled his case. The video ended with him questioning why such things could happen in Hong Kong.

IV) RTHK reporter was injured by the mobs attack

Video (Apple Daily): http://hk.apple.nextmedia.com/realtime/breaking/20141004/52978446

0:09 Man in blue t-shirt complaint the reporters were videotaping him.

0:15 This man threw off RTHK camera and beat the reporter’s head.

0:53 The policeman was escorting the man and the protesters were demanding the police not to release him again.

1:28 The police asked the crowd to calm down since they were investigating.

Video (EyePress): https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10153293357789782&set=vb.25964309781&type=2&theater

The wound bearing RTHK reporter reporting his location.

Reports of reporters attacked by thugs and the police:

Photo (HKJA): https://www.facebook.com/HKJA.official/photos/a.462959970308.256597.242729300308/10152747664440309/?type=1&theater

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Hong Kong: The Yellow and The Blue

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Mid day on Saturday, things are calmer, but not completely calm. From the SCMP’s continuing live-ish reporting of events:

8.23am:  Captain America in Admiralty.This protester, who identifies himself only as Ken, arrives in Admiralty protected by his super-hero’s shield.

“I am here to block the blue ribbon guys with this,” said Ken. He also has with him plastic cords, which he plans to use as “handcuffs” to “arrest” any anti-Occupiers.

captain_america

8.34am: Fewer than 40 protesters remain in Causeway Bay as a slow trickle of citizens begin to head to work. Most protesters began leaving for the day once the MTR opened.

9.00am: Scores of anti-Occupy protesters, wearing blue ribbons, march towards police headquarters in Admiralty after gathering in the MTR station. As they proceed, they chant “Support police!”

Some are retired policemen like Mr Tam. “I feel so upset seeing my brothers working so hard yet coming under fire. They are facing a task much harder than what I have experienced.”

He says the police use of force has not been fully understood by the people: “Protesters are ten times our number. They are layers of offence and we are just one line of defence. Of course we have to resort to other ways of defence [ousrselves] like tear gas and batons.”

[The protesters to date have not been "layers of offence." They have been peaceful. The attack on the protesters by the police was unprovoked.]

As they depart the MTR station, tempers flare as the blue ribboners shout at the Occupy protesters wearing yellow ribbons.

An ambulance from the Auxiliary Medical Services arrives on Lung Wo Road and indicates its intention to enter the chief executive’s office.

“Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung asks protesters for a pair of scissor to remove the plastic straps linking barricades, and finally removes the first set of railings while police officers remove a second tier at their cordon.

It takes six minutes for the ambulance to enter Tim Mei Avenue before it can gain access to government headquarters.

9.20am: As the protest in Mong Kok enters its first weekend scuffles between the pro- and anti-Occupy camps break out and the crowd of onlookers grows.

10:00am: Anti-Occupy “blue ribbon” marchers disperse in Wan Chai after a brief rally ouside the police headquarters.

They say they planned take food and water to the government headquarters in Tamar but only could not because Tamar was blocked by Occupiers.

Cho Wai-hing, 61, a housewife, said she came to support police and she did not find the force used on Occupiers excessive. “I experienced the riots in 1967. At that time a relative of mine was arrested and jailed even he was just walking on the street,” she says.

The police supporters said they will rally again in Tsim Sha Tsui at 2pm, and Mong Kok at 4pm.

During scuffles at the Admiralty MTR, police appear to hand control over the scene to the “Blue Ribbons”.South China Morning Post reporter who tries to enter the barricaded circle where confrontations are taking place is stopped by Stanley Yeung, a retired sailor who is leading the “blue ribbons” crowd, even though a policewoman tells the reporter entry is allowed.

10.30am: Chris Lau, a protester who has been defending the barricades in Causeway Bay since Monday, says: “I feel so helpless now. They [anti-Occupy groups] seemed to be so well organised but we are just ordinary students and citizens.”

Despite attacks from those opposed to the protests, Lau says he will continue fighting. “I’m exhausted, physically and psychologically. But I would not leave.”

He says he has been unable to sleep for the past few nights: “I have to stay vigilant and I’m afraid people or police are gonna come and destroy everything,”

“I’m upset now because of the negative situation,” Lau says with tears in his eyes, “I dont know why Im so emotional I have only cried when police fired tear gas at Admiralty on Sunday.”

10.55am: Loud, heated exchanges continue in Mong Kok close to the sit-in. A physical clash erupts between pro- and anti-Occupy groups after a man tries to pull down tent used by the protesters.

11.35am: Conditions are largely peaceful outside the chief executive’s office in Admiralty where some 20 young protesters are gathered .

A 70-year-old man arrives at around 11.15. He is clearly emotional and questions why protesters are blocking roads and limiting his freedom.

Lawmaker “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung, who is with the protesters, attempts to mediate and tells the man to appeal to the police.

The elderly man continues to speak for 15 minutes, until he breaks down in tears and two members of the negotiation team take him behind the police cordon zone to comfort him.

Some of the protesters joke, telling Leung: “You may get into [the] chief executive’s office if you cry too”.

Nearby, a group of about ten female students from the Chinese University display placards and walk around the protest area to encourage people to continue their efforts.

“We are not afraid, but we are heartbroken that Hong Kong has sunk into violence,” says Louise Cheung, one of the students.

12.00 noon: The scene at midday in Causeway Bay is calm. There are not many protesters on the ground but a number of people who didn’t attend on Friday are here to show support.

Lucas Lim, from the University of Hong Kong, says he feels ashamed that he was not at the protest on Friday.

“I want to show that Hong Kong people are not afraid of violence, especially violence by illegal groups,” Lim says.

He understands the movement has caused inconvenience but thinks Hong Kong people have to strive for universal suffrage.

“We are fighting for a better Hong Kong and this is the last chance for Hong Kong people,” he says.

12:20pm: In front of Langham Place on Argyle Street in Mong Kok students are facing off against residents as a crowd opposed to Occupy attempts to tear down the barricades.

One Mandarin-speaking lady is in the thick of the fray, trying to pull away the wooden pallets. Plenty of shouting is taking place, but no actual fighting. All sound, but no fury.

I’ve got to give some respect to the SCMP in the past week. You know I’ve been as critical of them as anyone in the past but I think their reporting has been the most comprehensive (for English language outlets) and pretty fair.  Twitter has of course also been amazingly useful – check out the stream for #OccupyHK.

Whether these blue ribbon people are paid or not, it’s extraordinarily disturbing that the police seem to be tolerating their violent actions. And while some people were arrested last night, at this point I have zero confidence that once everything settles down, the people behind the blues will ever be brought to justice.

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The Saddest Day in My 17 Years in Hong Kong

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First, from the SCMP:

7.30pm Causeway Bay: An organised group of around 20 men wearing masks broke through Hennesy Road and reached Jardine’s Bazaar and began removing barricades there. Police tried to contain the situation, but fights flared up involving men, police and protesters. Police officers formed a human cordon separating protesters and the group of men. The group of men left, splitting into two groups. The student group has managed to expand outside the previously tightening cordon as Occupy reinforcements stream in. Students scream at the those opposing the demonstrations, accusing them of being hired by the government or Beijing. Few police officers are seen as the battlelines grow increasingly blurred.

7.45pm Causeway Bay: Protesters grow angry because police didn’t make arrests after scuffles with the masked men. One woman shouts “Why didn’t you do anything?” while the crowd chants “Shame on you” at the police.

8.00pm Mong Kok: Anti-Occupy protesters again try to break through a human chain formed by police. They throw bottles into the crowd of Occupy protesters.

8.25pm Mong Kok: More than 100 angry anti-Occupy demonstrators shout insults at Occupy protesters who are being led away to safety by police.

8.35pm Admiralty: Ian Mo, 28, a scientist, watched Occupy Central organiser Benny Tai address crowds in Admiralty to denounce violence against protesters in Mong Kok.

Mo, said he had been planning to join the [Mong] Kok protest this evening but changed his mind when he saw the violence first hand. “The atmosphere here in Admiralty has changed a lot. The people here were so peaceful over the past few nights,” Mo said. “People feel angry because of tonight’s violence and are standing up again.”

Mo said he had walked past the protests in Mong Kok and seen police officers in uniform and wearing police vests who were not breaking up the violence. “There were some police standing by in the crowd but they simply did nothing,” Mo said.

8.45pm Mong Kok: Fighting breaks out soon after a group of masked young men arrive at the main occupied junction in Mong Kok. Taking advantage of the scene with only about ten officers present, the masked men kick Occupy protesters, who fall to the ground.

8.50pm A young man with a head injury complained that he was beaten by anti-occupy protesters and that police did not intervene.

“I was being kicked when chanting slogans. “People kept beating me after I fell”, he said while his bleeding from a cut in his head. “I will definitely file a complaint (against the police),” he said.

8.55pm Anti-Occupy protesters started throwing water bottles into the crowd of Occupy protesters. One SCMP reporter was hit.

Later on, more and more anti-Occupy protesters started to gate-crush the human chain formed by policemen around the student protesters. Some anti-Occupy bystanders gave rounds and rounds of applause. At one point, one anti-Occupy protester threw a water bottle at the police. Police officers were not seen to take any action against the person.

9.10pm Benny Tai says he suspects triads behind violent attacks on Mong Kok Occupy protesters and their supporters, and accuses police of inaction. 

9.15pm Anti-Occupy people continue to hurl insults and occasionally plastic water bottles at student protesters and their supporters. 

10.00pm Labour Party leader Lee Cheuk-yan condemns the violence in Mong Kok, saying the attackers had apparent triad links, and criticised the government’s indifference towards the attacks.

“When students were protesting peacefully on Sunday, police fired tear gas at them; but now, the police did nothing to the people who actually attacked the occupiers,” he said. “It has shown a big contrast.”

10.25pm Mong Kok: Fighting breaks out but police failed to intervene for the first 10 minutes. Instead they formed a line about 20 metres away from the fracas, watching from a distance while guarding the main occupied road junction in Mong Kok. The two parties were eventually separated by bystanders. Police have ignored repeated calls for officers to intervene.

10.35pm Mong Kok: The Fire Services Department send a mobile casualty treatment truck to the protest zone in Mong Kok that has almost become a battlefield.

10.45pm In a clip uploaded to the govenment’s website tonight, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying urged all people to leave Mong Kok immediately after the scuffles broke out.

“People should stay calm and not to use violent means no matter what side they take on Occupy Central,” he said. “I have noticed there are many young people, with some students in their uniforms. I called on them to leave immediately as I do not want to see any citizens get hurt.”

Leung said he had demanded police to spend their greatest effort to resume public order and asked people to coordinate with police’s evacuation work.

He once again urged protesters to leave Mongkok so the livelihood of people would not be affected.

10.45pm Mong Kok: More than 100 police officers have been dispatched to defend its police line in case more demonstrators storm into the protest zone in Mong Kok.

10.55pm Hong Kong The Federation of Students announce they will officially call off its meeting with Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor after the police and government turned a blind eye to attacks on protesters by suspected triad and pro-Beijing groups.

“It is government and police who break the dialogue and they should bear the consequences themselves,” the statement read.

It was Leung Chun-ying’s usual tactics to use both police and triads to threaten Hongkongers, the Federation said, adding Hongkongers should stay united and protected the remaining occupied area.

11.00pm Admiralty: Democratic Party chairman Martin Lee stands with a group of marshals at the entrance to Harcourt road from Admiralty Centre.

He said the group was forming a “frontline” to protect protesters in Admiralty.

“It was very ugly in Mong Kok, clearly the anti-Occupy people deliberately caused a scene and creating trouble, giving police an excuse,” Lee said.

“Because of the presence of the international press, the police won’t use tear gas again to throw the people away,” he said, “So they use these triad society members to create a scene and threaten the people. We are peace-loving and we are getting injured.”

“They hoped to deter us but you see, more and more people are coming,” Lee said, gesturing to the steady flow of people coming out if the MTR station.

Lee said the violent scenes today in Mong Kok were “Communist tactics” to “use people against people to eliminate those they don’t like.”

Protesters continue to pack into admiralty from the station as crowds brave the intermittent rain under umbrellas to listen to speakers on the stage under a pedestrian bridge.

Thursday night at midnight I was scared. The students had said that if CY Leung didn’t resign by 11:59 PM, they would try to occupy government buildings. I was certain it would only result in violence. Fortunately this never happened.

Friday, the mood had changed. Sure, even the sidewalk railing in far-flung Tai Po was covered with yellow ribbons but Beijing and Leung were basically right – after one week of protests and disruption with no result aside from helping focus world attention on the situation here (and with solidarity protests taking place in more than 60 cities around the globe), things were winding down.

The students couldn’t possibly gain anything more than they already had, which wasn’t much. And the general opinion seemed to be turning against them. People having very difficult commutes, businesses losing money. (Yes, I know, it’s easy to say from a distance, “What’s the loss of a few dollars vs. the sacrifice for democracy.” It’s not so easy when it’s the roof over your family’s head or the food on your family’s table.)

And then … this. Apple Daily claims to have evidence that the violent anti-Occupy forces were paid. I have no trouble believing this.

What I have trouble believing is what I saw – the police just standing by and not impartially enforcing the law. This is not the mark of a civilized society. This is third world anarchy. This cannot serve to make anything better. And I strongly believe that we will never know who was behind this, we will never know who paid off the thugs to attack, we will never know who gave the orders for the police to just stand there watching.

I mean, how stupid can the leaders be? When will they realize that every time they do something like this – or allow it to happen – that they are merely adding converts to the opposition?

This from the New York Times:

Pro-democracy protesters in two crowded Hong Kong neighborhoods came under assault on Friday from men who tore down their encampments and attacked the protesters.

The protesters said the attackers were pro-government gangs, and several of the groups leading the protest threatened to call off planned negotiations with the government “if the government does not immediately prevent the organized attacks.”

Then in the afternoon, bitter skirmishing broke out between protesters and men who tried to remove them and their makeshift shelters.

As skies darkened and rain fell, a couple of dozen men stormed the encampment in a major thoroughfare usually packed with traffic and shoppers. The men pushed and pummeled the protesters, grabbed the scaffolding of canopies and pulled them until the tents collapsed in heaps.

Brawls also broke out at another protest encampment, in the busy shopping district of Causeway Bay, as tourists hustled by clutching shopping bags.

After nearly a week in which the tens of thousands of protesters who have taken over parts of the city were, for the most part, not only nonviolent but assiduously polite and clean, the attacks came as a shock.

The mayhem appeared to have derailed proposed talks between the Hong Kong government and student protesters, who have demanded democratic elections for the city’s leader. The Hong Kong Federation of Students, the main organization of university students, said Friday night that it would not participate in the talks, and blamed the government for the violence.

“Yesterday the government stated it was willing to hold a dialogue with students,” said an emailed statement from the federation. “Today, it has gone broken its promise to the people, broken faith and without justification cracked down on the Occupy movement, treating the people as enemies.”

Protesters raised questions about the lack of police in both areas that came under attack, accusing the authorities of allowing the attacks to occur.

The Mong Kok area is notorious for organized gangs known as triads that extort payments from the many small businesses there, or in some cases own the businesses. Some of the protesters suggested that the attackers were connected to them.

The surrounded protesters linked arms in an effort to protect their tents and barricades, while the police struggled in vain to control the mayhem but in insufficient numbers to keep the two sides apart.

Several protesters said the attackers groped and sexually harrassed female protesters.

But the groups of men who stormed the two sites came abruptly and in force, and on two sides of Victoria Harbor at about the same time, leaving many in the pro-democracy camp convinced that the assaults were not just spontaneous initiatives by nearby residents.

Emily Lau, the chairwoman of Democratic Party, said in an interview that it was time for Hong Kong’s tycoons, with their deep business and political ties in China, to speak up and help broker concessions that could end the impasse.

“If you want the general public to climb down and accept nothing, I think it’s very difficult,” she said. “Some of the people that I think should be and could be influential, I think they should do something, and I am referring to the political and business elites in Hong Kong, especially the business community. These are the only ones that Beijing will listen to.”

This is not the Rule of Law.

While all of this was going on, it’s worth noting that the four broadcast TV stations (2 from TVB, 2 from ATV) did not interrupt their usual programming to cover it. CNN and BBC were providing better coverage, but still pushed down below their coverage of ISIS and Ebola. TVB has a live feed on the Internet – a camera pointed at the goings-on in Mong Kok – it’s not actual reporting but aside from Twitter, it’s the best we’ve got. It’s pretty clear that the media know which side of the conflict butters their bread.

I posted a “joke” on Facebook a few hours ago. “I thought it would take China about 25 years to destroy Hong Kong. They’ve done it in 17. I guess their mommies are proud.” 

 

 

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HK Protesters’ Mobile Phones Targeted

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There’s a new backdoor attack into mobile phones that affects both Android and iOS users.

The Android platform has always been susceptible to viruses and malware due to the more open nature of the Google Play store.

While the Apple app store has generally been free from viruses and malware, this one comes in the form of a message received on WhatsApp. However, it can only affect iOS devices that have been jailbroken.

Once it gets “in,” it can access all of the information stored on your phone – everything from contacts to SMS messages to location coordinates to passwords.

There is a possibility that this originates with the Chinese government. More from Lacoon Mobile Security (excerpts below):

The Lacoon Mobile Security research team has discovered a new mRAT it calls “Xsser mRAT.” The Xsser mRAT specifically targets iOS devices, and is related to Android spyware already distributed broadly in Hong Kong.

A link to the Android spyware, disguised as an app to help coordinate Occupy Central protests in Hong Kong, was sent as an anonymous message to Whatsapp users there on Thursday. In its investigation of that spyware, Lacoon uncovered the Xsser mRAT hosted on the same Command and Control (CnC) domain with the project being named Xsser. Though called Xsser, this is not related to an XSS attack.

Cross-Platform attacks that target both iOS and Android devices are rare, and indicate that this may be conducted by a very large organization or nation state. The fact that this attack is being used against protesters and is being executed by Chinese-speaking attackers suggests it’s first iOS trojan linked to Chinese government cyber activity.

The Xsser mRAT is itself significant because while there have been other iOS trojans found previously, this is the first and most advanced, fully operational Chinese iOS trojan found to date. Although it shows initial signs of being a targeted attack on Chinese protesters, the full extent of how Xsser mRAT is being used is anyone’s guess. It can cross borders easily, and is possibly being operated by a Chinese-speaking entity to spy on individuals, foreign companies, or even entire governments.

The Xsser mRAT represents a fundamental shift by nation-state cybercriminals from compromising traditional PC systems to targeting mobile devices. The risks extend well beyond the personal user to any enterprise with employees using mobile devices — company-provided or employee-liable — for business purposes. When infected, Xsser mRAT exposes virtually any information on iOS devices including SMS, email, and instant messages, and can also reveal location data, usernames and passwords, call logs and contact information.

The investigation began late last week with a malicious, fake Android app claiming to coordinate the Occupy Central pro-democracy movement. Activists have been receiving a link to the application via Whatsapp phishing messages from an unknown phone number saying, “Check out this Android app designed by Code4HK, group of activist coders,  for the coordination of Occupy Central!” Once victims click the link, their devices are infected an advanced mRAT, or mobile Remote Access Trojan.

There’s a lot more technical detail at the Lacoon web site.

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Good HK Background Pieces from NYTimes and HBR

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From the NY Times, a profile of CY Leung (excerpts below):

Mr. Leung, 60, is the man on whom President Xi Jinping of China is relying to quell the enormous pro-democracy demonstrations that have gripped this financial capital and pose one of the biggest challenges in years to Communist Party rule. At the same time, Mr. Leung has become a main target of the protests, blamed for authorizing the riot police to tear-gas the protesters and seen as a symbol of Hong Kong’s lack of democracy.

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I Read the News Today Oh Boy

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I don’t pretend to be a news outlet and I can’t imagine anyone comes to this site looking for the latest news. That being said, I’ve tried to avoid posting anything in the last few days (here, Facebook or Twitter) that wasn’t relevant to the ongoing situation in Hong Kong. I’ll admit I’m watching everything at a distance – I was in Manila until Monday night, Tuesday I had to work, today … well, I’m where I am.

Anyway, a few news items that have caught my eye.

Chai Yan Leung is the daughter of HK’s fearless leader CY Leung. I don’t know if this is real or not, but this screenshot of her Facebook page was posted at Coconuts.

screenshots_2014-10-01_at_5.18.17_pm

You tell me if it’s the real mccoy. Also posted to that page yesterday:

Pls keep up with the trying-to-get-into-my-account/ hacking (but failing like the loser you are), sending ‘”friend” requests”‘ (as if I’ll accept), meticulously scrolling through my public fb content and commenting on every single pic or status or note- IT’S SO FCKING ENTERTAINING and I’m laughing my ass off with my friends. Should I be flattered that you’re all so obsessed with me??#SoFunny #PlsKeepItComing #MyEverydayEntertainment

And a bit earlier, something about how she thinks Lindsay Lohan is the most talented actress of her generation.

Also from Coconuts, a photo she supposedly posted to Facebook last June:

chai_yan_wrist_0

 

(And please, no jokes in comments about how if you were related to CY, you’d try to kill yourself too. Yes, she slashed them the wrong way, but either way it’s sad.)

The SCMP reports that the Philippine consulate has warned Philippine workers in Hong Kong to stay away from the demonstrations as it might be unsafe or possibly illegal to attend, with fines of up to HK$5,000 (which is greater than one month’s salary for a domestic helper here).  Further, “Ferdinand Ramos, a 38-year-old musician who has lived in Hong Kong all his life but goes back to the Philippines periodically, said media reports in his country had warned nationals not to join the protest because they could be deported.”

Domestic helpers in Hong Kong received a salary raise this week. The minimum monthly salary has been raised from HK$4,010 to HK$4,110. It’s a raise of US$13 per month or approximately 2.5%.

This one here is a bit of a head-scratcher. Apparently early on Tuesday some idiot in a Mercedes literally sped through a street crowded with protesters.

Protesters scrambled for cover just seconds before a grey Mercedes-Benz, allegedly driven by a 59-year-old man surnamed Cheung, could hit them when it speeded through a section of Argyle Street near the junction with Nathan Road at around 2am.

The driver was later arrested at his Kowloon City home for suspected dangerous driving after reporters revealed his identity on social media. Police said there was no report of injury.

The driver said he had done nothing wrong.

I didn’t break any law. I was only exercising my citizen’s rights to use the road,” he told Cable TV.

“I didn’t see anything at all. All I remember is that I would not hit any people or objects. I used the road safely. I went through. That’s OK,” the driver said as he raised his right thumb.

Police senior inspector Wong Siu-leung, from the Kowloon West accident investigation unit, said the suspect’s driving manner was “problematic”.

“He rang his horn, and slowed down, but his vehicle was too close to the crowd,” Wong said.

Wong added that the driver was on his way to a friend’s home. He passed a breathalyser test.

The incident sparked anger and panic among the protesters. Some screamed as the car came close to hitting the crowd while others chased after the vehicle trying to catch the driver or rushed to reinforce the road block.

In Causeway Bay today, someone threw a plastic bag filled with water and bits of watermelon rind out of a window. One woman was taken to the hospital.

While most of Hong Kong’s entertainment industry stars have kept their mouths shut about all of this, and the HK gossip sites continue to post their usual nonsense, Chow Yun-Fat has spoken out.

Veteran actor Chow Yun-fat also spoke up. He told the media that the government made a serious mistake by using tear gas on students on day one. He criticised the government for being evasive when it should be facing the public.

“The students are very smart and rational. This is a peaceful protest. Why did [the government] have to resort to the violent tear gas?” Chow said.

“CY Leung cannot run away from this,” Chow said.

I have a co-worker who is from the mainland. This person has been posting stuff relevant to the protests on Weibo. The posts have all been deleted of course. The co-worker says they were told this is actually safer – if the posts were not deleted, it could be more troublesome for them in the long term.

Anyway, where things stand at the moment, in case you didn’t already know, is that the student protesters have changed their demands somewhat. Rather than saying they will occupy Hong Kong until China grants full democracy, they’re now saying they will go home once C.Y. Leung resigns or is forced from his post.

This is more achievable. After all, it was a mass demonstration in 2003 that forced the “resignation” of Hong Kong’s first chief exec, Tung Chee-Hwa.

But worryingly, they’ve said that if Leung doesn’t resign by Thursday, they will attempt to occupy government buildings. This could have disastrous consequences. I hope this will not be the case.

UPDATE: What I meant to add above was that it’s the devil you know vs. the devil you don’t. If Leung does step down or is forced out, who will replace him? Tung was inept, Tsang was corrupt and Leung is like the weird uncle you wouldn’t let babysit your kids. Beijing is clueless so don’t think that whoever follows in Leung’s footsteps is going to be an improvement.

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Lenny Bruce on Authority and the Origin of Law

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Something about what’s been going on the past few days reminded me of this classic Lenny Bruce routine:

I figure, when it started, they said, “Well, we’re gonna have to have some rules” — that’s how the law starts, out of that fact. 

“Let’s see. I tell you what we’ll do. We’ll have a vote. We’ll sleep in Area A. Is that cool?”

“OK, good.”

“We’ll eat in Area B. Good?”

“Good.”

“We’ll throw a crap in area C. Good?”

“Good.” 

Simple rules. So, everything went along pretty cool, you know, everybody’s very happy. One night everybody was sleeping, one guy woke up, Pow! He got a faceful of crap, and he said:

“Hey, what’s the deal here, I thought we had a rule: Eat, Sleep, and Crap, and I was sleeping and I got a faceful of crap.”

So they said,

“Well, ah, the rule was substantive –” 

See, that’s what the Fourteenth Amendment is. It regulates the rights but it doesn’t do anuthing about it. It just says, That’s where it’s at.

“We’ll have to do something to enforce the provisions, to give it some teeth. Here’s the deal: If everybody throws any crap on us while we’re sleeping, they get thrown in the craphouse. Agreed?”

“Well, everybody?”

“Yeah.”

“But what if it’s my mother?”

“You don’t understand. Your mother would be the fact. That doesn’t have anything to do with it. It’s just the rule, Eat, Sleep and Crap. Anybody throws any crap on us they get thrown in the craphouse. Your mother doesn’t enter into it at all. Everybody gets thrown in the craphouse — priests, rabbis, they’ll all go. Agreed?”

“OK, agreed.” 

OK. Now, it’s going along very cool, guy’s sleeping. Pow! Gets a faceful of crap. Now he wakes up and sees he’s all alone, and he looks, and everyone’s giving a big party. He says,

“Hey, what’s the deal? I thought we had a rule, Eat, Sleep, and Crap, and you just threw a faceful of crap on me.”

They said,

“Oh, this is a religious holiday, and we told you many times that if you’re going to live your indecent life and sleep all day, you deserve to have crap thrown on you while you’re sleeping.”

And the guy says,

“Bullshit, the rule’s the rule.”

And this guy started to separate the church and the state, right down the middle, Pow! Here’s the church rule, and here’s the federal rule. OK, everything’s going along cool, one guy says,

“Hey, wait a minute. Though we made the rule, how’re we going to get somebody to throw somebody in the craphouse? We need somebody to enforce it — law enforcement.”

Now they put up this sign on the wall, “WANTED, LAW ENFORCEMENT.” Guys applied for the job:

“Look. Here’s our problem, see, we’re trying to get some sleep and people keep throwing crap on us. Now we want somebody to throw them right in the craphouse. And I’m delegated to do the hiring here, and, ah, here’s what the job is.

“You see, they won’t go in the craphouse by themselves. And we all agreed on the rule, now, and we firmed it up, so there’s nobody gets out of it, everybody’s vulnerable, we’re gonna throw them right in the craphouse.

“But ya see, I can’t do it cause I do business with these assholes, and it looks bad for me, you know, ah . . . so I want somebody to do it for me, you know? So I tell you what: Here’s a stick and a gun and you do it — but wait till I’m out of the room. And, wherever it happens, see, I’ll wait back here and I’ll watch, you know, and you make sure you kick ‘em in the ass and throw ‘em in there.

“Now you’ll hear me say alotta times that it takes a certain kind of mentality to do that work, you know, and all that bullshit, you know, but you understand, it’s all horseshit and you just kick em in the ass and make sure it’s done.”

So what happens? Now comes the riot, or the marches — everybody’s wailing, screaming. And you got a guy there, who’s standing with a short-sleeved shirt on and a stick in his hand, and the people are yelling, “Gestapo! Gestapo!” at him:

“Gestapo? You asshole, I’m the mailman!”

That’s another big problem. People can’t separate the authority and the people who have the authority vested in them. I think you see that a lot in the demonstrations. Cause actually the people are demonstrating not against Vietnam — they’re demonstrating against the police department. Actually, against policemen. Because they have that concept — that the law and the law enforcement are one.

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No Idea

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Here’s the home page of KMB, one of the two major bus companies here.

kmb1

Clicking there leads to this:

kmb2

Meanwhile, MTR’s home page looks like this:

mtr

Not terribly useful at the moment. (MTR’s iPhone app delivers near-real-time service updates. I can’t find any place on their web site for similar information.)

Driving from the airport to home tonight, signs over the roadways declared that there was congestion in Central, Admiralty, Causeway Bay, etc. due to a “public meeting.”

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