Commentary on Political Economy

Thursday 29 August 2019


In the end, I guess that my visceral hatred of the Chinese Dictatorship is due entirely to my revulsion at the mere breathing of thugs. Thugs are not human beings: they are rotten beasts that must be destroyed by all means possible. You could say that my experience of the Mafia in Sicily has something to do with it. Human beings are not beasts; therefore beasts are not human beings. Thugs are beasts. This simple syllogism should guide our lives, our hopes and our deeds. Always.

Alice Woodhouse, George Hammond, Joe Leahy and Nicolle Liu in Hong Kong 3 hours ago Print this page 52 Two of Hong Kong’s leading protest organisers were attacked by thugs armed with a baseball bat and metal poles in separate incidents on Thursday, sharply increasing tensions in the Asian financial hub’s worst political crisis in decades.Jimmy Sham, the leader of the group behind the largest mass protests in Hong Kong, and Max Chung Kin-ping, the organiser of a protest in July against attacks on demonstrators by alleged gangsters, were each set upon as they went about their business in different parts of the city.“We Hong Kongers have now lost the freedom of living without terror,” Mr Chung said after the attack, revealing to the media thick red welts on his back and side from the beating.The assaults come two days before Mr Sham’s group, the Civil Human Rights Front, which has arranged three anti-government marches that each drew crowds of more than 1m in recent weeks, was planning to lead a new mass rally on Saturday.Police on Thursday denied permission for the planned march, which was meant to mark five years since Beijing announced a restrictive framework for future elections of the territory’s leader. Police also tried to stop the group’s previous march two weeks ago, granting permission only for a rally in a park, but the estimated 1.7m protesters who attended eventually took to the streets in an illegal but peaceful demonstration.The assaults on the activists represent a significant escalation of political violence in the city. The Civil Human Rights Front said Mr Sham was attacked in a restaurant by two masked men carrying a baseball bat and a knife. A friend who protected him was sent to hospital. Police have said they are investigating an alleged assault.Mr Chung, meanwhile, said he was attacked in an outlying neighbourhood of the territory by four men carrying iron poles and umbrellas while he was being interviewed by a reporter. He and the reporter were taken to hospital. Police said an incident fitting Mr Chung’s description of the attack had been reported to them.Both attacks were carried out by men of non-ethnic Chinese descent.Mr Chung organised a rally in the outlying Hong Kong region of Yuen Long last month to protest against an attack by men armed with wooden sticks in a commuter railway station on protesters returning from demonstrations and passersby. Police have accused some of the men of having links to Hong Kong’s criminal triad organisations. Recommended Nathan Law Hong Kong’s leaders must respond to the people’s protest Protests against a controversial bill that would have allowed extradition to China for the first time began in June and have morphed into broader calls for democracy and increasingly violent clashes with police. The bill has been suspended but Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam refuses to completely withdraw the legislation.With the protests well into their third month, the government has raised the prospect of using emergency powers to combat anti-government demonstrations.At a press conference on Tuesday, Ms Lam refused to rule out deploying the Emergency Regulations Ordinance, a law that has not been used for more than 50 years.Triggering the law would grant the government a range of powers, including the ability to censor publications and communications.Responding to Ms Lam’s statement, the Hong Kong Internet Service Providers Association said on Wednesday that any restrictions on internet services “would start the end of the open internet of Hong Kong, and would immediately and permanently deter international businesses from positing their businesses and investments in Hong Kong”.Unlike mainland China, Hong Kong has free access to the internet, making the city an appealing base for businesses that rely on the free flow of information.

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