Last week, I talked about my pro-establishment acquaintances having grave concerns about how fast the rule of law had deteriorated in Hong Kong, and more specifically, I referred to the upcoming draconian communist China style entry and exit bans. In view of the Immigration Ordinance coming into effect on August 1, less than 90 days from now, those who are paranoid about the changes have already booked their flights before the effective date. But the “horror show” doesn’t stop here. It also applies to those who want to enter Hong Kong: the immigration officials might let you in, but there is always a possibility that you might not be able to get out for you might be held in some form of arbitrary detention. The ramifications are profound, and only time will tell whether the bill would affect a lot of people.
The immigration bill was passed on April 28, after the pro-Beijing legislators hastily pushed the bill forward. Legal experts, business groups and enterprises from the international community doing businesses in Hong Kong have already raised concerns about the implication of these changes. With no pro-democracy legislators in the legislature now, all bills can be passed at supersonic speed ̶ the Legislative Council functions like a rubber stamp for the draconian government. It is important to note that Hong Kong has lost its autonomy completely since 11pm, June 30, 2020, the time when the NSL(National Security Law) came into effect. In regards to national security matters, all governmental departments within Hong Kong (police, security, finance, immigration, correctional services, to name a few) have to effectively report to Luo Huining, the head of the Chinese Communist Party(CCP)’s Liaison Office based in Hong Kong.
Communist China and now communist Hong Kong behave very much the same now. Since the NSL came into effect, a broad spectrum of pro-democracy activists have been held in detainment, exiled, or repressed one way or another. Those who are held in custody pending trial are receiving inhumane treatment ̶ the mental torture is just surreal. Wu Chi-wai, former legislator and chairperson of the Democratic Party, will have missed his father’s funeral that took place on Friday by the time of this publication. It was a political move, and Wu was alleged to be jeopardizing national security by subverting state power. The Hong Kong government sings the same tune with their Beijing masters up north now, and there is no sign of mercy. The sweeping power of NSL is indeed leveraged to launch continual assaults on human rights. And so far, it seems there has been nothing able to regulate it. (In a surprising turn of events, Wu might be allowed to attend his father’s funeral in person Friday afternoon according to the latest news on Friday morning, and the story is still developing.)
[Editor’s note: The High Court granted an urgent bail application from Wu Chi-wai, after the Correctional Services Department barred him from attending his father’s funeral, scheduled on Friday evening.]
In regards to the June 4 candlelight vigil commemorating the Tiananmen massacre that took place 32 years ago, it is now official that the Hong Kong government would ban it from taking place at Victoria Park. It has happened two times in a row, or may I say it has been banned for good? To the totalitarian regime, any form of public commemoration of the Tiananmen crackdown is a challenge to Beijing’s authority. Furthermore, I also believe the July 1 rally in Hong Kong, which attracts a big crowd every year, will be no go. Hong Kongers are now barred from large-scale assemblies, and this extreme makeover given to Hong Kong has chained the city further ̶ we are moving further away from a respectable financial hub, and it is being replaced by a genuine police state.
It is somewhat ironic when I look back on myself drafting a sincere and heartfelt “Ten Demands to the Communist Party of China from the People in Hong Kong (Financial Sector)” during the Umbrella Movement of 2014. I find myself a bit naïve then, believing that the CCP would listen to the wishes of Hong Kong people. Let me recap on what we expressed to President Xi Jinping in point 3 at the time:
“Defend Hong Kong’s freedom of speech, the press, assembly, religion, creation, and all kinds of freedom enshrined in the Basic Law and relevant international conventions.”
I believe all hopes are gone now, when the NSL creates a new standard which is superior to and overrides the Basic Law. If you drill deeper into the point, you will find it reasonable and practical:
Hong Kong’s achievements today are owed to generations of hard work, and significantly so being a pluralistic and free society. Universally-accepted liberal values and freedom in business and information flow are among the reasons why Hong Kong attracts international enterprises. The successful development of the financial industry hinges upon free flow of capital and information. The economic miracle of Hong Kong can hardly be carried on if any of the abovementioned freedoms is battered. Foreign investors and even businessmen from mainland China will lose confidence in the business environment, which thus makes inconceivably negative impact on China’s overall economic development and the process of reform and opening-up. The central and Hong Kong SAR governments must conscientiously safeguard all existing freedoms in Hong Kong, instead of restricting and suppressing Hong Kong’s renowned liberties for any political reasons.
The latest blow to Hong Kong’s freedoms goes to Chickeeduck, a local children’s apparel store with a product line of clothes and souvenirs that carry a message “freedom for Hong Kong”. The newly opened store in Tsuen Wan was raided this Thursday by about fifty police officers wearing NSD (National Security Department) vests, after some Beijing media criticized Chickeeduck’s products for promoting Hong Kong independence, inciting violence, and violating the NSL. Sadly, it seems to me that the NSD, run by the Hong Kong police, have to make a scene regularly just to prove their existence and that they are worthy of tax payers’ dollars.
Say goodbye to doing businesses in Hong Kong freely and without disturbance, for the NSD will definitely keep putting on all these “horror shows” on behalf of the totalitarian regime in the most high-profile manner to make a silly point. Let me put forward one thing: those who decide to stay in Hong Kong, fear not and fight on. This type of political bullying has just once and again proved that the people in power are incapable of administering Hong Kong, and have turned the city into a dictatorship.
I took the opportunity to visit the Chickeeduck store on Thursday night after the raid to show moral support for the store owner Herbert Chow (today’s thumbnail picture on the right). I am lost for words - the Hong Kong government has gone this low politically, and has no clue about defending normal business operations. I am upset beyond words that Hong Kong is clouded with white terror, and that the population is living in fear.
(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: firstname.lastname@example.org)
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