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Posts tagged as “carrie lam”

The Definition of Insanity…

… is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result*.

Are Carrie Lam, the Hong Kong government, and the Hong Kong police insane?

They seem to be doing the same things again and again: oppressing the people of Hong Kong more and more ruthlessly, banning face masks, beating and abusing the demonstrators, firing more tear gas, pepper spray, and rubber bullets, even raping and shooting demonstrators with lethal weapons. None of that has worked, and yet they continue to expect a different result. It won’t happen. The demonstrators continue their resistance. Public support for the demonstrations has continued, even increased, while at this point, the vast majority of the Hong Kong people loathe Carrie Lam and the police.

So, are Carrie Lam, the Hong Kong government, and the Hong Kong police actually insane? Probably not in the clinical sense; although, some of the members of the Hong Kong police definitely seem to have lost control of themselves and may truly be suffering from mental illness.

Carrie Lam has backed herself into a corner, probably with the “advice” of the CCP’s thugs government bureaucrats. She has said there can be and will be no negotiations, and the demonstrators Five Demands can never be implemented.

What then, is the solution? More of the same? Escalation of violence until dozens, hundreds, even thousands or tens of thousands are killed? Insanity.

At this point, there is more-or-less open warfare between the Hong Kong police and the young people of Hong Kong; although, it is by no means only young people that are protesting. In the past couple of days, thousands of office workers have taken to the streets in the Hong Kong central financial district, peacefully protesting, where of course, they were tear gassed by the police.

The CCP, and by extension the Hong Kong government and police, are utterly bereft of ideas. They seem to understand violence and oppression as the only means of dealing with people. It isn’t surprising, given the CCP’s history. Mao said, “Every Communist must grasp the truth; ‘Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.'” It is what they believe and all they know, to this day. Insanity.

At this point, we have no answers, only prayers for Hong Kong.

* Although often attributed to Albert Einstein, apparently, it was not actually said by him.

Protests in Hong Kong Continue after Withdrawal of the Extradition Bill; Where Does It End?

Despite the withdrawal of the extradition bill, the protests in Hong Kong are continuing, as we expected. The protesters have adopted “Five Demands, Not One Less” as one of their slogans. They will not be satisfied with the easy half-measures taken by the HK government. Beijing and Carrie Lam’s leadership still don’t understand the movement. If they thought that just withdrawing the bill would end the protests, they were badly mistaken – again.

Protesters are now demanding accountability for the police that stormed subway stations last week, indiscriminately beating and pepper-spraying passengers that were not resisting, without ever even attempting to identify whether or not they were involved in the protests. Regardless of whether any of the passengers were involved in any protests – even if they had committed crimes – the police do not have the right to beat and pepper spray anyone that is not resisting. The protesters demand for accountability for police brutality – and there have been numerous instances of it documented clearly on video – is entirely reasonable. MTR, the company that operates the commuter trains in Hong Kong, must release the video captured on security cameras in the subway stations. Why refuse? Are they afraid that the video will reveal just how brutal and out of control the police were that day? Are they protecting the police? If not, then release the raw, unedited video. You can bet that if the video showed that the police acted reasonably, it would be released immediately. MTR’s refusal to release it shows that the HK government has something to hide. The protesters skepticism towards an “investigation” conducted by any agency or organization associated with the government, like the IPCC, is well-founded. The HK police have already tried to whitewash, justify, and coverup the brutality that was been committed by their comrades (we use the word intentionally).

More, um, enthusiastic members of the protest movement have continued to vandalize train stations and other infrastructure and to aggressively confront the police. We understand their thinking that peaceful protest is ineffective. They may even be correct. But without a doubt, the CCP propaganda machine will (continue) to do their best to turn public opinion against the protesters. The pro-democracy movement must be careful not to lose its base of support. On the other hand, the CCP’s pet media has been painting the movement as violent and unreasonable from the beginning, so it actually may not make any difference in that respect.

Either way, we hate to see violence continuing in Hong Kong. Many people have been injured, some quite seriously. One of the things that motivates the protesters targeting of MTR and demanding release of the security camera video from the train stations is their belief that some protesters were murdered by the police. After seeing video of the vicious beatings perpetrated by the police on the protesters, it is easy to understand why they think some might have been killed. But to be fair, some protesters have also attacked police when they’ve had a tactical advantage. We hope that both sides would step back from violent confrontations.

The question that remains, of course, is what is the end-game? Will Beijing back down, and allow for free and fair, truly democratic elections, in Hong Kong? It is exceedingly unlikely. Will the Hong Kong government allow for an in-depth, independent investigation of the Hong Kong police? Doubtful – but perhaps not completely out of the question. Will the protesters that have been arrested be released without charges? Carrie Lam said no, so probably not. Will Carrie Lam resign? She has said she won’t, but given that she has said she would like to, it is possible.

Where, and how, does it end?

Extradition Bill Withdrawn. What’s Next?

So, as we reported last night, the extradition bill that was the initial impetus for the protests in Hong Kong has been withdrawn by Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam.

That’s excellent news, but where does that leave the protest movement? Let’s take a look.

Of the Five Demands that the protesters have made, one has been met. What about the others? Here is what we know right now about any progress in meeting them.

  • An independent investigation into the actions of the police. In a press conference, Lam did address this, saying that the IPCC (Independent Police Complaints Council) will investigate. Protesters have criticized the IPCC as being dominated by pro-government members, doubting that the investigation will be independent. It is unlikely that an IPPC investigation will be acceptable to pro-democracy protesters.
  • Stop characterizing the protests as “riots.” This demand is important because if the protests are called “riots” and the protesters are called “rioters” then those that were arrested during the protests face more serious charges and harsher punishment. We have not seen or heard anything from the HK government regarding this demand.
  • Release of all protesters that have been arrested and dropping of all charges against them. Again, we have not seen or heard anything regarding this demand. [UPDATE: Lam said in her press conference, “we cannot accept letting criminals go under the existing legal system.” So, the HK government will not accept this demand.
  • Resignation of Carrie Lam and universal suffrage for the Hong Kong people for chief executive and other legislative and government positions. Nothing has been formally said about this, either, but it would not be at all surprising if Carrie Lam steps down soon. [UPDATE: however, in her press conference, Lam said, “My personal stance has made known for months, my team and I will remain and will tackle the problems, with the priority on stopping violence.”] As for the demand for universal suffrage, we regard this as the most important of the protesters’ demands for Hong Kong’s future, and the one least likely to be acceptable to Beijing.

Withdrawal of the extradition bill is an important first step toward a free and prosperous Hong Kong, but it is by no means the end of the road. Many pro-Beijing, business, and establishment leaders will say that the reason for the protests has been removed, so the pro-democracy movement should stop the protests, and Hong Kong should return to “normal.” The CCP state-run media will portray any continuing protests as unreasonable (well, they’ve portrayed the protests as violent and unreasonable all along). The pro-democracy movement should continue to protests for all of their demands to be met, but they must do so carefully, being mindful of public opinion. Right now, the protesters have broad support, both within Hong Kong and internationally. Loss of that support will hand Beijing the final victory, even if the protesters won the initial fight over the extradition bill.

Hong Kong Extradition Bill to be Formally Withdrawn

This is incredibly important, if it is true. The Hong Kong Free Press is reporting that Carrie Lam will formally withdraw the extradition bill. This bill is the initial cause of the protests that have convulsed Hong Kong for over three months.

If the bill is formally withdrawn, the Hong Kong government will meet one of the five primary demands of the protesters, and it could pave the way for negotiations on the other four of the protesters’ five demands.

That said, if the bill is withdrawn, look for Beijing and the HK government to pressure the protesters to relent. If the protests continue anyway, many people, both in Hong Kong and internationally, will tend to view the protesters as unreasonable. The protest movement must play this very carefully, or they will lose the public support that they currently enjoy. Beijing may be counting on more radical elements in the protest movement to overplay their hand, alienating their base of support. That must not happen if the protest movement wants to effect lasting change in Hong Kong.

In any case, if the bill is withdrawn, it does appear to be a victory for the protest movement – but let’s not celebrate too early. This is an early report, and it is likely that Beijing has other plans in effect to disperse and blunt the effect of the protest movement.

Must-Watch CBC Interview of Anson Chan

The CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) has posted a fascinating interview with Anson Chan, former head of the civil service in the Hong Kong government, on YouTube.

CBC YouTube video

As the headline on the video says, Mrs. Chan believes that Carrie Lam has “lost all will to govern.” The government of Hong Kong certainly has done little-to-nothing to address the protests constructively, so it seems that Mrs. Chan’s observation is spot on.

You may have seen this video of Mrs. Chan being accosted by two pro-Beijing people on the streets of Hong Kong.

Her class in the face of these rude confrontations is incredible. She is very admirable.

Carrie Lam Would Quit “If She Could.” What is the Path Forward?

Multiple news sources are posting on a Reuters report on Carrie Lam’s talk with a group of business leaders. Reuters obtained a leaked audio recording of Lam’s remarks.

During her talk, Lam said she had caused “unforgivable havoc” by introducing the extradition bill, and that she now has very limited room to maneuver politically to resolve the crisis, as it has become a national security issue for the Beijing government.

If I have a choice, the first thing is to quit, having made a deep apology.

Carrie Lam in Reuters report on her remarks to Hong Kong business leaders

It’s nice that Lam recognizes her enormous blunder, but at this point it is really too late for regrets. Since Beijing has elevated the crisis to a national level, and is not willing to back down lest it “lose face,” Lam must do everything that she can to convince Beijing to completely withdraw the bill. She must also try to restore the Hong Kong government’s relationship with the people to the state it was in before she introduced the bill. This is a next-to-impossible task, given that she has already (no doubt at Beijing’s orders) flatly rejected all of the protesters’ demands, and given the police brutality experienced by the people of Hong Kong. Restoring trust in the government and in the police will be a long-term, arduous, and challenging process, and that process cannot begin at all as long as Beijing and the HK government will not negotiate with the protesters in good faith.

Why Beijing would want Lam to remain in office at this point is very difficult to understand. She has proven herself incapable of handling the crisis and incompetent as a chief executive. Her personal regrets and misgivings are signs that she perhaps has learned something from her mistakes, but if Beijing will not allow her to act on what she has learned, her new understanding of the situation is meaningless for Hong Kong.

What would a reasonable path forward look like? In our opinion, the Hong Kong government, with the support of Beijing, can start by doing these things:

  1. Remove Carrie Lam from office (accept her resignation) and elect/appoint a chief executive respected by the protesters and acceptable to Beijing.
  2. Release an announcement by the new chief executive that the extradition bill has been completely withdrawn and will not be resurrected under any circumstances. Re-affirm the “one country, two systems” principles and the Basic Law. Reject any pressure by Beijing to erode the rights of the Hong Kong people.
  3. Announce a general recognition of the Hong Kong people’s right to assemble and have their grievances addressed in stated in the Basic Law; stop the “white terror” at Hong Kong businesses (e.g. Cathay Pacific Airlines). Reject pressure from Beijing to make HK businesses comply with their demands that are not in accordance with Hong Kong law.
  4. Announce a general amnesty for all protesters and release any still held, with some exceptions (maybe) for those involved in extreme assaults against police.
  5. Remove riot police and other special tactics units from the streets, unless extreme elements within the protest groups continue attacks against police, civilians, infrastructure, or government buildings and property. Strictly instruct and train riot police and special tactics units that they cannot violate the rights of the people, and that they cannot under any circumstances use violent tactics, unless they encounter resistance, and even then, limited force may only be used in order to secure an arrest. Violations of people’s rights or excessive force by police must be met by dismissal from the police force and potential prosecution.
  6. Remove any and all CCP-controlled personnel (People’s Armed Police or other infiltrators) from the HK police force.
  7. Independently investigate and remove any police officers identified as having used excessive force from their duties, and prosecute those that used extreme violence without any justifiable cause. The HK police leadership must not be seen as protecting officers violating the law and the rights of the people.
  8. Re-affirm the rule of law and allow the people of Hong Kong to freely elect their own representatives to the government, per the agreements between China and the U.K in the handover treaties and as set down in the Basic Law, reversing the CCP Standing Committee’s ruling on universal suffrage.

In short, the Hong Kong government should meet the protesters Five Demands.

Finally, if Beijing wants to truly restore Hong Kong, it should announce that the Basic Law will be the governing law in Hong Kong in perpetuity, not just until 2047. Although the Hong Kong people, with good reason, do not trust Beijing, only that step will truly have a chance of giving the people of Hong Kong confidence that their freedom in the future is ensured.

We understand that the CCP will not take our recommendations on this matter; nevertheless, this is what we believe to be reasonable and necessary steps for Hong Kong to be truly restored.

Carrie Lam Meets with “Young People” in a Useless Gesture

Carrie Lam has met with a group of “young people” after the violent events yesterday (link to South China Morning Post article).

The response of Hong Kong’s government continues to be weak and ineffective. Dialogue with “young people” is good, but until the Hong Kong government is willing to negotiate in good faith and respond to the protesters “five demands” in a positive way, it will accomplish nothing.

This is what is causing the stalemate between the Hong Kong government and the protesters.

First, Carrie Lam and the Hong Kong government’s intransigence on the extradition bill and other demands:

According to a source at the meeting, some attendees told Lam it was not necessary for her to satisfy the five demands all at once. But Lam could consider completely withdrawing the bill first and establishing the independent inquiry, they told the chief executive.

Lam responded that it would be difficult to completely withdraw the bill but stopped short of elaborating on the reasons, the source said. She also said the police had already been under huge pressure from the protesters’ accusations of excessive use of force.

SCMP article

And, the protesters do not trust the Hong Kong government:

Claiming he [Chris Chan, one of the protesters] represented 100 radical protesters, and was in touch with total of 300, Chan said the groups had no intention at all to hold a dialogue with the government. Previous dialogues had only led to protesters losing out, he said.

SCMP article

The message delivered to Carrie Lam at the meeting is reasonable. Carrie Lam has herself said the extradition bill is “dead,” so why not completely withdraw it? The protesters are right to be concerned that as soon as the pressure is off of the government, the bill with be re-introduced and quickly passed before anyone can do anything about it.

The Hong Kong government’s (and thus the CCP’s) refusal to negotiate in good faith and lack of any kind of creativity or willingness to take the protesters’ demands seriously is the ultimate reason behind the crisis. Of course, this kind of inflexibility and lack of vision is a prime characteristic of totalitarian states. The protesters need to adjust their tactics accordingly. Direct confrontation just leads to entrenchment by the government. We believe that non-violent tactics will give better results.

An article in The Strategist by Michael Shoebridge argues that Beijing is orchestrating events in Hong Kong to force a bloody crackdown. He is quite possibly correct – we have wondered if at least some of the violent attacks on the HK police could be by CCP “plants” among the protesters. If events in Hong Kong are being pushed toward a violent conclusion by Beijing, it is all the more reason for the protesters to adopt non-violent tactics. Confrontations, as we said earlier, just play into the CCP’s hands.

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