Things are much more complicated than you think, especially when you see a piece of major news that has gone viral in Hong Kong was disseminated by a pro-Beijing media outlet, and interestingly, it involves a high-profile scandal concerning the most sensitive and controversial unit of the police force ̶ the National Security Department (NSD). The number two officer of the Hong Kong Police NSD is reported to be caught red-handed during a raid on an unlicenced massage parlor made by the police. (The number one is a high-ranking female police officer) The fifty-year-old rising star, Frederic Choi, holds the position of Director of National Security, and was regarded as a top contender for and next in line to the Commissioner of Police in Hong Kong. It is reported that the NSD police head is now on leave and under investigation, and some believe he will be replaced soon. If there were a free Hong Kong, the NSD police head would be presumed innocent until proven guilty. Now, everything in Hong Kong is politicized, including affairs concerning those in the inner circle, and no one is immune.
A press conference was held on Wednesday shortly after the news had been broken to the public, with Chris Tang, the Commissioner of Police, tackling questions from the media, including whether the NSD director had sex with the masseuse, whether there were other police officers involved, whether there was any usage of illegal drugs, who operated the premises, and where exactly the parlor is, etc. For “national security” reason, no more information can be provided to the public? And then, more questions and comments raised by the public. Are so-called unlicenced parlors effectively brothels for “special forces”? Are the masseuse(s) under 18? Was the massage parlor a part of a bigger illegal ring? Would the operation involve human trafficking? To give more comic relief to the case, some netizens called this mysterious parlor “Happy Ending”, and one even held up to ridicule the reason why the National Security Office that is responsible for National Security Law (NSL) operations in Hong Kong picked a hotel in Causeway Bay last year as its temporary office: a “Quickie Getaway Near Me”. Witty comments, perhaps. It is understood the raid took place a month ago, and the breaking news came out around Wednesday midnight Hong Kong time (Tuesday night, Wednesday morning). The news was disseminated by the SCMP (South China Morning Post) which is owned by CCP (Chinese Communist Party) member Jack Ma, the largest individual shareholder of Alibaba who has his own issues with the mainland China’s securities regulators.
The NSD has a lot of power, and the people who run it must have gone through a vigorous background check by Beijing. Before reaching the one-year mark of the NSD operation, there seems to be an urgent need for some serious housekeeping already, some sort of a makeover that has to be given to its internal affairs. The NSD’s roles and duties are vague to the public. That said, it is believed that the NSD is held responsible to vet all potential candidates who want to contest an election of the legislature and district council in Hong Kong, after the extreme electoral reform made by Beijing. It is believed that the NSD will also perform due diligence on the soon-to-be beefed-up Election Committee of 1500 members strong in Hong Kong, in which each individual member representing an interest group of the city has a vote to cast for the next Chief Executive of Hong Kong. That said, the outcome of the election will have no margin of error, as Beijing has changed the rules so much that different levels of pre-screening will be done in advance, and the next Chief Executive will therefore be pretty much predetermined. If you go further up the power chain, you will understand one thing: Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam just follows orders from Beijing, so do senior members of her cabinet. And as what I alluded to last week, in regards to national security matters, all governmental departments in Hong Kong (police, security, finance, immigration, correctional services, to name a few) have to effectively report to Luo Huining, the head of the Liaison Office based in Hong Kong, and are regarded as being utterly loyal to President Xi Jinping.
After a raid carried out by NSD police on the local childrenswear chain store Chickeeduck, I paid a follow-up visit to the owner Herbert Chow this past Wednesday just to see how he was doing. Chow commented that the demeanor of the NSD police was worse than expected, perhaps much worse than that of the local triads, which Chow has experience in dealing with.
I am more concerned about the legitimacy of the baseless charges against the former district councilors and legislators who are now serving prison terms or being held in detainment. Xia Baolong, head of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, even publicly mentioned weeks ago before the trial that Jimmy Lai, owner of this publication, Joshua Wong, the most famous democracy activist in Hong Kong, and Benny Tai, a legal scholar and advocate of Occupy Central, needed to be severely punished. Xia, who is perceived as a hardliner and utterly loyal to President Xi Jinping, got his own fame by toppling church crosses in Zhejiang (浙江) and suppressing Christian activities around the area.
As far as Hong Kong’s bigger picture is concerned, the one-year mark of the NSL is at the end of June. Let us do a political barometer check on three important dates: June 4 Tiananmen vigil, July 1 rally, and August 1 that the amended Immigration Ordinance takes effect to give the immigration authorities unlimited power to bar people from entering and leaving Hong Kong. For the June 4 and July 1 event, they are a crucial democracy barometer that sends an important signal to international businesses whether Hong Kong is still free. The answer is pretty obvious now, and in less than a year, the NSL has eroded Hong Kong’s autonomy, democratic principles and rule of law. The tyrannical acts to oppress democracy and human rights in Hong Kong have just gotten worse.
And back to the NSD scandal, time will tell whether the NSD director, who has fallen from grace, is just the first high-profile victim of Hong Kong’s political infighting. As for Hong Kong, the political atmosphere is more like a city of hell, and the Basic Law, the mini constitution of this city meant to protect businesses and its people living in the city, has become nothing other than just empty words. There is a lot of evilness going on, and the people living in Hong Kong are effectively just unchained prisoners living in a bigger prison cell.
And one last reminder, we have less than 80 days before communist Hong Kong authorities will exercise their discretionary power to bar anyone from entering or leaving the city without a court order; and Hong Kong airport has already been under routine surveillance by NSD police. We all need luck now, especially those Hong Kongers who live in Hong Kong, under the hands of the Chinese Communist regime.
(Edward Chin (錢志健) runs a family office. Chin was formerly Country Head of a UK publicly listed hedge fund, the largest of its kind measured by asset under management. Outside the hedge funds space, Chin is Convenor of 2047 Hong Kong Monitor and a Senior Advisor of Reporters Without Borders (RSF, HK & Macau). Chin studied speech communication at the University of Minnesota, and received his MBA from the University of Toronto. Twitter: edwardckchin Youtube: Ed Chin Channel Facebook.com/edckchin Email: email@example.com)
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