Friday, 18 August 2017

Joshua Wong's Mom Hits Back

Nathan Law, Joshua Wong and Alex Chow before sentencing yesterday
 When Joshua Wong Chi-fung was in the spotlight for his activism starting back in 2011 to protest against national education, his parents were media shy. But following Wong's sentencing yesterday, his mother could not help but make a statement.

Grace Ng Chau-mei wrote a letter to her son before the sentencing that was only released afterwards on Wong's Facebook page.

Wong is now staying at Pik Uk prison near Sai Kung
In it, she said Wong, 20, had sacrificed personal and family time since first entering political activism in May 2011, for the sake of "building a more beautiful Hong Kong".

Ng criticized the Hong Kong government for pursuing the stiffer sentences. "The justice department vowed to imprison them based on what they said... and to eliminate young people's passion and ideals, as well as their vision and commitment for the society," she wrote.

"Why is Hong Kong so depraved now to be treating this generation of children like this?" she asked.

In a reference to the biblical figure Joshua, who led the Israelites in the conquest of God's "Promised Land" in Canaan, Ng wrote: "Dad and I gave you this name 'Joshua'. So don't forget what God told Joshua: reflect on whatever you do, follow the truth, and you can be courageous."

While Wong's parents were not in court on Thursday, Ng visited him today at Pik Uk maximum security prison near Sai Kung.

A reminder in strength in numbers to create change
There he will have to study and attend vocational training, and as he is underage, he has to march military style to the canteen for meals, and clean his own toilet.

When he turns 21 in October, he will be moved to another correctional facility.

However, he may not have to be there long -- his lawyers are preparing applications for Wong, Nathan Law Kwun-chung and Alex Chow Yong-kang be granted leave to prepare for their appeal.

Last night and today on many people's Facebook feeds, they posted pictures they took during the 2014 Umbrella Movement as a reminder of what the trio (and tens of thousands of others) were fighting for.

Some felt it was yet another blow in the fight for self-determination, others a nostalgic reminder that we should not forget what happened almost three years ago.

No one knows how this will end, but it is important not to give up -- that's exactly what the Hong Kong government wants people to do.

This is about the city's future, and jailing the next generation isn't the solution.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Three Occupy Leaders Jailed

Joshua Wong in a police van before being sent to start his prison sentence
Joshua Wong Chi-fung hasn't been afraid to stand up for his convictions, but today he, along with Alex Chow Yong-kang and former legislator Nathan Law Kwun-chung will face their biggest test yet -- prison time -- for storming Civic Square, that led to the eruption of the Umbrella Movement almost three years ago.

Wong was sentenced to six months, Law eight, and Chow seven. Because their prison terms are longer than three months, they are ineligible to run for a seat in the Legislative Council for the next five years.

The trio were defiant before the sentences were handed down
Speaking before the ruling, and expecting to be behind bars, Wong said he wanted to see a "hopeful Hong Kong when I am out [of prison] next year", while Law declared he had no regrets about his activism.

While we know the trio are steadfast in their beliefs, are they physically strong enough to deal with prison life? Look at former chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen -- he couldn't even handle two months and he had it really cushy.

Nevertheless we're deeply disappointed in the ruling. Wong and Law had already served their community service sentences that were originally handed down by trial magistrate June Cheung Tin-ngan, along with Chow's suspended three-week jail sentence.

The trio had testified they stormed Civic Square in the hopes of securing talks with then chief executive Leung Chun-ying over the restrictive framework set by Beijing over how Hong Kong would elect its next leader.

The storming of Civic Square led to the Umbrella Movement
Cheung had ruled the case was atypical, and that it called for a more lenient and understanding attitude since the three were young student activists who expressed their demands based on genuinely held political ideals.

At the time she said a deterrent sentence would not be fair.

However, the Hong Kong government wasn't satisfied with the punishment meted out and demanded a judicial review of the sentences, with prosecutors saying they were too lenient and sent the wrong message to young people.

Do those sentences send the wrong message? Are they too lenient? Or do they reveal the government's intentions to bend the law however it sees fit to punish those who try to defy it?

The three will already be punished for life anyway -- they cannot go to the mainland to travel or work, they will never be able to get a proper job in Hong Kong. Financially they are already stymied and they are less than 30 years old.

The government seems heavy-handed in this case, but it's meant to send a warning to others who may think they can take the trio's place to continue the fight.

"The freedom of assembly is never absolute," wrote Wally Yeung, a vice president of the Court of Appeal, who added the court must uphold the importance of public order even though "sentencing ambitious, idealist young people to immediate imprisonment" was not a judgment he made "readily".

Then why did the trio of judges decide on these sentences?

Fellow protest leader Lester Shum says the three plan to appeal their sentences.

On Twitter Wong posted this message soon after his sentence: "They can silence protests, remove us from the legislature and lock us up. But they will not win the hearts and minds of Hongkongers."

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Lam's Tale Apparently Full of Holes

 Lam was arrested last night; today he was charged with misleading police
The bizarre story of Democratic Party member Howard Lam Tsz-kin took another turn today as he has now been charged with misleading police, as the authorities are finding his story implausible.

Footage shows Lam was there an hour later than he claimed
Yesterday news organization Fact Wire released video footage its reporters had gathered where Lam claimed he had been abducted by mainland agents. Instead of seeing him bungled into a van in Yau Ma Tei, he was walking on his own with a knapsack on his back. He was also in the area an hour after he claimed the incident took place.

There was more CCTV footage of him getting onto a minibus in Mongkok to go to Sai Kung and he wandered around the beach. Originally he had claimed his abductors had dumped him there in his underwear and he somehow managed to have money to take a taxi home.

Police also questioned why the crosses of staples on his thighs were so neatly done, and there was no sign of him struggling. Staples on other parts of his body that he couldn't reach could have made the claims more plausible.

Police say the staples in his thighs were too neat to be forced
Lam's case will be heard tomorrow in Kowloon City Court, though he will not be present because he claimed to be feeling unwell and was still in hospital.

Another issue is that Lam has a history of mental health issues including depression and suicide, and the authorities think that perhaps the stapling was a form of self-harm, but he insisted he was mentally fine.

Meanwhile the Democratic Party is slowly backing away from Lam, after they had rallied around him during his press conference last week. The whole incident further disintegrates whatever integrity the party had left, making it the laughing stock of local politics, dragging down the likes of Martin Lee Chu-ming with it.

Police searched for more clues on Sai Kung beach today
Why would anyone want to support them now, but the only alternatives are a bunch of kid activists or patriotic pro-Beijing supporters. There isn't much choice left. The pan-democrats are really lucky it's not an election year...

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

RTHK Changes Channels

RTHK cuts the 24-hour transmission of BBC World Service to eight hours
Ah Hong Kong is sliding further into mainlandization with Radio Television Hong Kong announcing it will drop the 24-hour transmission of BBC World Service that has been broadcasting for almost 40 years and replace it with Chinese state radio.

The change will happen in a few weeks' time in early September, which an RTHK spokesperson said was to "enhance the cultural exchange between the mainland and Hong Kong".

How nice, considering China National Radio, known as Central People's Radio in Chinese, will be in Putonghua, not Cantonese. Guess that's part of the "cultural exchange".

From September, the BBC can be heard overnight 11pm-7am
But before you get out your pitchforks, not all is lost -- BBC World Service will continue to be broadcast from 11pm to 7am, which means having to become a night owl listener.

Demosisto's Joshua Wong Chi-fung says he has listened to BBC World Service since high school "because our teacher always told us to learn English from the BBC," he said.

However he cited other reasons for the change.

"This just proves how political consideration and Chinese forces are eroding press freedom [in Hong Kong]," Wong said.

But RTHK retorted that the Chinese broadcast was made for the city.

"This channel is tailor made for RTHK when we first introduced digital audio broadcasting, and it can enhance the cultural exchange between the mainland and Hong Kong," said Amen Ng, head of corporate communications at RTHK.

Wonder how many people will listen to China National Radio...